Three geographical features, saw-toothed coast, Tamba Mountains and Kyoto Basin – Capital of Japan flourished for 1,200 years

Kyoto stretches from southeast to northwest in the central and northern Kansai Region (Midwest Japan). It has three geographical features, the saw-toothed coast area around the Maizuru Bay in the northwest, the Tamba Mountains around the center and the Kyoto Basin in the southeast.

Kyoto became the capital of Japan in the 8th century. It had flourished as the center for Japanese politics, economy and culture for some 1,200 years until the capital functions were transferred to Tokyo in the mid 19th century. There remain many temples and shrines that had been built during this long period. Seventeen historic sites including the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Nijo-jo Castle are designated as World Cultural Heritage sites.

You may meet Maiko, young dancing entertainers who walk in long hanging sleeved kimono in the Gion, see the townscape characterized with popular 19th century style latticework, and visit the Nishijin where they weave traditional nishijin-ori textiles with vivid colored threads. The festivals are famous not only in Japan but are known worldwide.

The three major festivals of Kyoto are Aoi-Matsuri Festival in early summer, Gion-Matsuri Festival in summer and Jidai-Matsuri Festival in autumn. There is also the Okuribi in five hills of Daimonji, where torches shaping a letter or figure are ignited into flames on the night of August 15, in a Buddhist ritual called O-bon or Urabon-e.

Getting to Kyoto

Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station or a Rapid Train on JR Tokaido Line from Shin-Osaka Station for 25 minutes to Kyoto Station.