A warm welcome to Kyoto, widely regarded as the most beautiful city in Japan. Located amid the scenic mountains on the western side of Honshu Island, Kyoto was once Japan's imperial capital and home of the Japanese emperor from 794 to 1868.
At that time, Kyoto reigned as the seat of Japanese power and the center of tradition, religion and culture. It was a majestic locale that housed several palaces, temples and shrines, and where great emperors and shoguns roamed the city streets.
Unlike most Japanese cities, Kyoto survived World War II and Allied bombings of that time virtually unscathed, thanks to its great historic value, which even the Allies recognized. Remnants of its historic past are still visible to tourists today.
However, urbanization has taken its toll on the city, particularly the city centre, which now resembles any other modern-day metropolis in the world. However, discriminating tourists who look beyond the city's urban facade can still witness many reminders of the great, historic city that was Kyoto during its prime.
Today, Kyoto is the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture and home to around 1.5 million residents. It ranks as the seventh largest city in Japan. Tradition still runs deep within the city's boundaries, merged thoroughly with the predominantly modern glass and steel structures of today.
During its 11 centuries as Japan 's imperial capital, Kyoto suffered countless wars, fires and earthquakes. However, even the Allies recognized the city's historical significance and spared it from the bombings of World War II.
The city hosts countless architectural marvels, including magnificent palaces and beautiful gardens as well as over 2,000 temples and shrines. The buildings are surprisingly well-preserved.
Visit Kyoto and experience a different culture through fascinating attractions in the city. Kyoto has hundreds of temples from esoteric designs like To’Ji Temple and the five Zen style Buddhist temples like Nanzenji Temple and the Golden and Silver Pavilions. See the cherry blossom in spring and the colours of the leaves in Autumn. Kyoto has many diverse museums from the Museum of Sake to the Museum of Costume, the Museum of Modern Art, and even a Museum dedicated to Manga or the popular comic strips.
Experience Japanese culture by visiting a Tea Ceremony or try a Japanese cookery lesson, an exquisite art form in itself. Learn origami and consider learning Japanese flower arranging. Walk across the Togetsu-kyo Bridge and relax in the beautiful Shosei-en Garden. Try the Onsen or Hot Springs after a busy day, and don’t forget a visit to the theatre to see traditional Japanese Dance. Look for the Geisha who stroll around the Kagai District with elegant kimono, and consider a visit during the Miyaki Odoro Dance Festival. Explore the Kyoto Nishiki Food Market for exotic tastes and flavours of Japanese cuisine and shop for handicrafts in the city centre. Kyoto has a lot of diverse cultural experiences for visitors, which is a major attraction.
Given its rich history and significance to Japan, Kyoto naturally has a dazzling array of tourist attractions. This section lists only the very best of these attractions which tourists should not miss.
Some of the most popular Kyoto attractions are located in the Kyoto Gyoen area, which houses two of the traditional homes of Japanese emperors for many centuries, the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Sento Imperial Palace, as well as the Katsura Imperial Villa, one of the best architectural structures in Japan, and the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa, one of the country's most impressive gardens.
Kyoto is also renowned for its eye-catching Arashiyama Lake , the Philosopher's Walk, and the Gion and Pontocho geisha quarters.
Listed as a UNESCO world Heritage site are the so-called Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, which includes 10 historical shrines, the Nijo Castle and other sites.
Kyoto is also known as a center of Japanese cuisine, especially Buddhist inspired foods and various vegetables that are harvested in Kyoto.
The city also has a tradition of well-loved Japanese films and TV series, especially of samurai action films. Moreover, Kyoto also houses the Kyoto International Manga Museum, which has a voluminous collection of manga spanning over 200,000 titles.