Located in west-central Honshu, in the scenic valley of the Kamo River and its surrounding mountains, Kyoto is one of the most historic and attractive city and a place of endless fascination and delight! The city is the heart of traditional Japanese culture and charms its visitors with quiet temples, colorful shrines, and divine gardens. Take a look below for 30 interesting and incredible facts about Kyoto.
1. Kyoto is in the western part of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, and is located in a peaceful valley surrounded by mountains on three sides.
2. Its origins go back to the 6th Century.
3. Kyoto has been a Buddhist centre since the 8th century and is in many ways the intellectual heartland of Japan.
4. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than one thousand years.
5. The history of Kyoto starts in 794 when Kyoto was chosen as the new seat of Japan’s imperial court. The Emperors of Japan ruled from Kyoto in the following eleven centuries until 1869, when the court relocated to Tokyo.
6. The city is now the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture located in the Kansai region, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.
7. Wars have raged across Kyoto down the centuries, but the city largely escaped conventional World War II bombs because it was not included in American invasion plans.
8. The Imperial City of Kyoto has more pre-war buildings than most other Japanese cities taken together.
9. The city has 1,600 Buddhist shrines and 400 Shinto Temples. Among these, the 17 historic monuments of ancient Kyoto are a collective UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. These heritage sites attract many people since each embodies a respective era in which it was constructed.
11. Kyoto is popularly known as the City of Ten Thousand Shrines, of which the Shimogamo Shrine is the most venerable. It stands in honor of the Mother of the God of Thunder.
12. Buddhist monks built the original structure in 678 AD ahead of a visit by Emperor Tenmu who became the first monarch of Japan.
13. Shimogamo Shrine is part of the larger Kamo religious complex. This is within an area landscaped according to ancient Japanese tradition, where visitors may freely roam.
14. Fushimi Inari-taisha is the head shrine of the kami Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres (764 feet) above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) and take approximately 2 hours to walk up.
15. Kinkaku-ji officially named Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The name Kinkaku-ji literally means the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and the official name Rokuon-ji literally means the Deer Garden Temple.
16. Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. It is one of the most famous and celebrated temples in Kyoto. The temple was founded in 778 AD and contains buildings from the 17th century, including the main hall designated as a National Treasure.
17. The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan.
18. Following a period of wanton destruction in the 15thcentury, Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi refashioned Kyoto in the style of the City of Chang’an that had a quarter of a million inhabitants by the year 2 AD, when recorded history begins.
19. During the 16thcentury, Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi doubled up the number of north-south streets. This created the familiar rectangular blocks with shorter side streets that form the fascinating older suburbs adored by visiting tourists.
20. Historically, Kyoto was the largest city in Japan, later surpassed by Osaka and Edo (Tokyo) towards the end of the 16th century.
21. Home to many cultural landmarks and historical sites, Kyoto is thought of as the heart of Japan.
22. The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the Kyoto National Museum are a great place to see the magnificent work and unravel the history of the city.
23. The festivals in Kyoto are famous not only in Japan but are also known worldwide. The three major festivals of Kyoto are the Aoi-matsuri Festival in early summer, the Gion-matsuri Festival in mid-summer, and the Jidai-matsuri Festival in fall.
24. Kyoto University that was established in 1897 is one of the former imperial universities. It’s considered the best in Japan after Tokyo University.
25. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The protocol aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.
26. The city has seven independent rail services. To go places, you need to rush from one to the other. This means you need different tickets and sometimes there is a hefty hike between stations.
27. Nishiki Market is a marketplace in downtown Kyoto. Rich with history and tradition, the market is renowned as the place to obtain many of Kyoto’s famous foods and goods.
28. Kyoto is justifiably renowned for its remarkably authentic cuisine. Being distant from the sea and having so many Buddhist vegetarians resulted in the development of 13 varieties of vegetables.
29. When you visit, look out for restaurants advertising albino potatoes, shogun kabul turnips, kamo nasu eggplants, and the shogoin radish that tastes good especially when simmered gently.
30. Many of Kyoto’s restaurants are in traditional wooden buildings, where you can have your brunch in nature’s lap.