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Edited by: Declan Murphy
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Kyoto today only has 1.4 million inhabitants, but has tremendous cultural assets including around 20% of Japan's National Treasures, and 15% of the Important Cultural Properties. Capital of Japan from 794 until the 1868 "Meiji Restoration", this city is cupped in a ring of mountains and cut through by rivers. Home of several UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city remains beautiful in parts, but has an unfortunate micro-climate - Kyoto is notorious for uncomfortably hot/humid summers and frigid cold winters. Kyoto is a must see for any traveller interested in Japan, with a long history and rich culture. Although the genteel rooflines and historic cityscape have largely been replaced by a concrete, steel and neon mess, traditions remain vital to the city - people flock to see raked pebble gardens at Zen temples such as Ryoan-ji or Ginkaku-ji, experience the artworks and history of Nijo Castle, dine in Pontocho or experience an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan in Gion.

A major business center and home of high tech corporations such as Kyocera (Kyoto Ceramic), there are as many temples to mammon as to deities. Kyoto is also a major student town with more than 35 universities and colleges - and although some may be attracted by famous colleges, one of the major lures attracting young Japanese university students to Kyoto is the raucous nightlife. It is a particularly great place during the Gion Festival and New Year.

Kinkakuji
Kinkakuji - the Golden Pavilion

  • City Highlights - Ryoan-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizudera, Jishu Shrine, Sannen-zaka & Ninnen-zaka walk Ginkaku-ji, Path of Philosophy, Nanzen-ji, Imperial Palace, Mt. Hiei and Enryaku-ji, Heian jingu, Saiho-ji, Tenryu-ji, Ichiriki Ochaya
    Gion District & Festival: - Yasaka (Gion) Shrine | Gion Festival | Maruyama park | Pleasure quarters | Pontocho | Teramachi | Shijo Street Shopping
  • Region Highlights - Uji, Byodoin, Ujigami Shrine, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Obakusan-Manpukuji, The Tale of Genji sites & museum, Uji Bridge, Tea Ceremony

    Tours - Japan Discovery visits Kyoto.
    Click here for more information regarding when Discovery visits this destination.

    Photographs and contributions

    Ninomaru Palace Garden, Nijo Castle
    Ninomaru Palace Garden,
    Nijo Castle
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