Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its exceptional historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.
Kyoto, located in the Kansai region of Japan, is the country’s seventh largest city, with a population of 1.4 million people. Steeped in history, Kyoto is home to roughly one quarter of Japan’s national treasures, countless shrines and temples, and seventeen sites recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Travelers to Kyoto can easily spend a week visiting the city’s historical attractions such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), and Sanjusangendo. All sections of the city contain more than one locale well worth a thorough visit, Notably, some of Japan’s oldest traditions, such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and geisha schooling originated in the city. These ancient customs, while still practiced throughout Japan, can only be observed in their original setting in Kyoto.
Japan’s capital city and the emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is known throughout the world for its stunning beauty. Tourists are drawn year-round by the majestic palaces, statues, and villas, as well as by the carefully tended gardens; each spring, dozens of varieties of cherry trees bloom in Kyoto, and visitors are treated to time-honored hanami (blossom viewing) parties.
Kyoto is dedicated to preserving Japan’s oldest traditions, yet it is also a dynamic, contemporary city. Modern conveniences are readily available, making Kyoto a perfect destination for visitors looking to explore Japan’s past without sacrificing the comforts of today. Known as a national dining mecca, Kyoto proudly offers traditional Japanese cuisines, such as sushi, tofu and obanzi (Kyoto home-style fare). In addition, a variety of restaurants serve everything from Korean barbecue to French cuisine. Shopping is also a unique experience in Kyoto, with merchandise ranging from traditional Japanese crafts made by local artisans to cutting-edge couture. Among Japan’s many assets, Kyoto is one of the most prized, comparable only to the world’s most dazzling places.