Kyoto, officially Kyoto City is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kobe. As of 2018, the city had a population of 1.47 million. It is located some 30 miles (50 km) northeast of the industrial city of Ōsaka and about the same distance from Nara, another ancient centre of Japanese culture. Gently sloping downward from north to south, the city averages 180 feet (55 metres) above sea level. Kyōto fu is at the centre of Kinki chihō (region). The city is one of the centres (with nearby Ōsaka and Kōbe) of the Keihanshin Industrial Zone, the second largest urban and industrial agglomeration in Japan.
In 794, Kyoto (then known as Heian-kyō) was chosen as the new seat of Japan's imperial court. The original city was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinese feng shui following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an. The Imperial Palace faces south, resulting in Ukyō (the right sector of the capital) being on the west while Sakyō (the left sector) is on the east. The streets in the modern-day wards of Nakagyō, Shimogyō, and Kamigyō-ku still follow a grid pattern.
The Emperors of Japan ruled from Kyoto in the following eleven centuries until 1869, when the court relocated to Tokyo. The city was devastated during the Ōnin War in the 15th century and went into an extended period of decline, but gradually revived under the Tokugawa shogunate (1600–1868) and flourished as a major city in Japan. The modern municipality of Kyoto was established in 1889. The city was spared from large-scale destruction during World War II and as a result, its prewar cultural heritage has mostly been preserved.
Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan and a major tourist destination. It is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, many of which are listed collectively by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Prominent landmarks include the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and the Katsura Imperial Villa. Kyoto is also a center of higher learning, with Kyoto University being an institution of international renown.
Data and Facts
- Kyoto is the name of both a city and a prefecture. There is Kyoto City (population 1.5 million) and Kyoto Prefecture (population 2.6 million)
- There are 1,681 temples and 812 shrines in the city of Kyoto
- It is believed that there are over 1000 Buddhist temples in Kyoto. The mother of all shrines, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, has mesmerizing arcades of vermilion torii spread across a mountainside
- People in Kyoto Prefecture consume bread more than people in any other prefecture in Japan do and spend more money on coffee than people in any other prefecture do
- Now a world famous game maker “Nintendo” was established in Kyoto in 1889. They made playing cards for Japanese card game
- JR Kyoto Station has the longest platform in Japan. It has the length of 564 meters and it takes 5 minutes to walk from one side to the other
- 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 directly elected executive mayor in Kyoto as of 2013 is Daisaku Kadokawa, an independent supported by Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito Party, Your Party and Social Democratic Party. The legislative city assembly has 69 elected members.
Kyōto urban prefecture, which extends to the Sea of Japan, is under the administration of an elected governor, while the city is administered by an elected mayor and city council.
The key industry of Kyoto is information technology and electronics: the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo, Intelligent Systems, SCREEN Holdings, Tose, Hatena, Omron, Kyocera, Shimadzu Corp., Rohm, Horiba, Nidec Corporation, Nichicon, Nissin Electric, and GS Yuasa. Tourists are hugely fond of Kyoto, contributing significantly to its economy. The cultural heritage sites of Kyoto are constantly visited by school groups from across Japan, and many foreign tourists also stop in Kyoto. In 2014, the city government announced that a record number of tourists had visited Kyoto, and it was favoured as the world's best city by U.S. travel magazines.
Traditional Japanese crafts are also a major industry of Kyoto, most of which are run by artisans in their plants. Kyoto's kimono weavers are particularly renowned, and the city remains the premier center of kimono manufacturing. Gekkeikan and Takara Holdings are major sake brewers headquartered in Kyoto. Other notable businesses headquartered in Kyoto include Aiful, Ishida, MK, Nissen Holdings, Oh-sho, Sagawa Express, Volks and Wacoal. The concentration of population to the capital city area is 55%, which is highest among the prefectures. The economic difference between the coastal area and inland area including Kyoto basin is significant. Encompassing ¥10.12 trillion, Kyoto MEA had the fourth-largest economy in the country in 2010.
Kyōto is a city of thousands of medium and small industries, many of them family owned and operated. Traditional handicrafts abound, and their manufacture for the tourist trade is an important element of Kyōto’s economic life. Anti Pollution measures have forced the once-thriving Kiyomizu pottery kilns to move to nearby Yamashina.
For centuries silk weaving, centred in the north-central Nishijin district, has been one of Kyōto’s major industries. Along with the geisha and entertainment sector, the fine textiles, delicate fabrics, and embroidery represent a continuity of Kyōto’s traditional role as the centre of Japanese culture. In addition, the Fushimi district in southern Kyōto, favoured with excellent water, produces some of Japan’s finest sake. Also located in southern Kyōto are several industries established after World War II that produce industrial ceramics, women’s garments, and medical instruments. Since the early 1980s, companies such as Kyocera Corporation have put Kyōto in the forefront of such high-technology industries as electronics, robotics, and computers.
Kyōto is mainly a consumer city. It is the national centre of silk and fine textile wholesaling, but its main commercial activity is retail trade. The Gion and Pontocho districts, famed for their geisha and maiko , offer a variety of traditional and foreign food and drink. During the summer, yuka are set up on the banks of the Kamo River in the heart of town, and strolling troubadours pass below as a reminder of how Kabuki theatre originated. Traditional Japanese inns abound, and many Western-style hotels cater to the wedding, tourist, and convention trades. Kyoto's special characteristics include its world-renowned traditional arts such as Nisijin brocade and unique Kyoto styles of Yuzen silk dyeing, pottery, and dolls, and these exacting, intricate traditional arts of Kyoto is the force behind the rise of many advanced technologies. Many world-leading companies are located in Kyoto.
Moreover, Kyoto's smaller businesses and their unique products and technologies are another of the prefecture's attractive features. Kyoto is aiming to become a major IT cluster attracting IT-related companies to the area and fostering new venture businesses by taking advantage of Kyoto's stand-out characteristic of high-tech IT-related companies sitting side by side with companies with advanced manufacturing technologies. Kyoto Prefecture hosts more than ten foreign-affiliated companies.
Kyoto is also a high-potential area to invest for companies focusing on sales with an eye on the huge Kansai market. In addition to a good job environment and a cluster of many universities and research centers, many globally active companies are located in Kyoto. The 'Kyoto brand' that has been inherited from cultures sophisticated throughout its history and traditional industry to advanced industry will give new business development.
Kyoto Prefecture offers support for your location in coordination with municipalities, offering incentives such as subsidies, loans, and special provisions on taxation. Kyoto invests significant efforts into attracting businesses from overseas, establishing new research facilities and building relationships with foreign entrepreneurs and researchers. In response to the wide-ranging support systems put in place by the national government and the Kyoto prefectural and municipal governments, the Kyoto Foreign Investment Promotion Committee. was established in April 2003.
Although Kyoto does not have its own large commercial airport, travelers can get to the city via nearby Itami Airport, Kobe Airport or Kansai International Airport. The Haruka Express operated by JR West carries passengers from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station in 73 minutes.Osaka Airport Transport buses connect Itami Airport and Kyoto Station Hachijo Gate in 50 minutes and cost 1,310 yen for a one-way trip.
Some buses go further, make stops at major hotels and terminals in the downtown area. Another airport located further from the city is Nagoya Airfield located 135.5 KM away from the city. Kyoto's municipal bus network is extensive. Private carriers also operate within the city. Many tourists join commuters on the public buses, or take tour buses. Kyoto's buses have announcements in English and electronic signs with stops written in the Latin alphabet.
Most city buses have a fixed fare. A one-day bus pass and a combined unlimited train and bus pass are also available. These are especially useful for visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. The bus information center just outside the central station handles tickets and passes. The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called «Bus Navi.» It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sites and fare information. This too is available at the information center in front of the main station.
There are five bicycle rental stations and 21 EcoStations in central Kyoto. Because of the large number of cyclists, permitted bicycle parking areas can be difficult to find.
Within Kyoto's ancient lanes, a one-way system is prevalent and necessary for preservation of its character. The city is connected with other parts of Japan by the Meishin Expressway, which has two interchanges in the city: Kyoto Higashi in Yamashina-ku and Kyoto Minami in Fushimi-ku. The Kyoto-Jukan Expressway connects the city to northern regions of Kyoto Prefecture. The Daini Keihan Road is a new bypass to Osaka.
Although Greater Kyoto has fewer toll-highways than other comparable Japanese cities, it is served with elevated dual and even triple-carriageway national roads. As of 2018, only 10.1 kilometres of the Hanshin Expressway Kyoto Route is in operation. There are nine national highways in the city of Kyoto: Route 1, Route 8, Route 9, Route 24, Route 162, Route 171, Route 367, Route 477 and Route 478.
Just like other major cities in Japan, Kyoto is well served by rail transportation systems operated by several different companies and organizations. The city's main gateway terminal, Kyōto Station, which is one of the most popular stations in the country, connects The Tōkaidō Shinkansen bullet train Line with five JR West lines, a Kintetsu line and a municipal subway line. The Keihan, the Hankyu, and other rail networks also offer frequent services within the city and to other cities and suburbs in the Kinki region. There is a Railway Heritage site in Kyoto, where visitors can experience the range of Japanese railways in the JR Museum formerly Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, situated about the roundhouse.The Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau operates the Kyoto Municipal Subway consisting of two lines: the Karasuma Line and the Tōzai Line. The Transportation Bureau and Kintetsu jointly operate through services, which continue to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara. The Karasuma Line and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line connect at Kyoto and Takeda. All the stations are located in the city proper.
The Tōzai Line is coloured vermilion, and its stations are given numbers following the letter «T». This line runs from the southeastern area of the city, then east to west through the Kyoto downtown area where trains run beneath the three east-west streets: Sanjō Street , Oike Street and Oshikōji Street .
The line has following stations, from east to west: Rokujizō in Uji; Ishida and Daigo in Fushimi-ku; Ono, Nagitsuji, Higashino, Yamashina and Misasagi in Yamashina-ku; Keage, Higashiyama and Sanjō Keihan in Higashiyama-ku; Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae, Karasuma Oike, Nijōjō-mae, Nijō and Nishiōji Oike in Nakagyō-ku; and Uzumasa Tenjingawa in Ukyō-ku.
The Keihan Keishin Line has been integrated into this line, and thus Keihan provides services from Hamaōtsu in the neighbouring city of Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture.
The Tōzai Line connects to the Keihan lines at Rokujizō, Yamashina, Misasagi and Sanjō Keihan, to the JR lines at Nijō, Yamashina and Rokujizō, and to the Keifuku Electric Railroad at Uzumasa Tenjingawa. All the stations except Rokujizō are located in Kyoto.
The Tōkaidō Shinkansen operated by JR Central provides high-speed rail service linking Kyoto with Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo to the east of Kyoto and with nearby Osaka and points west on the San'yō Shinkansen, such as Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, and Fukuoka. The trip from Tokyo takes about two hours and eighteen minutes. From Hakata in Fukuoka, Nozomi takes you to Kyoto in just over three hours. All trains including Nozomi stop at Kyoto Station, serving as a gateway to not only Kyoto Prefecture but also northeast Osaka, south Shiga and north Nara.
Established in 1989, Kyoto Research Park is an innovation hub that has grown massively in its near 30-year existence. It was the first privately operated research park to open in Japan, with the aim of forming a base for new business creation and the collaboration between different industries, academia and government to drive innovation. A lot of this is technology based, with the KRP currently home to 420 tenant companies in ICT, biotech, electronics, machinery and other sectors. Walking around KRP, it looks pretty much like you’d imagine for an innovative Japanese business park. It has clearly grown since it was first introduced and there are now a variety of block buildings with large glass windows, dark grey bricks and revolving doors. From the road the façade looks like a cross between a block of flats and an office environment, with trees and bits of greenery dotted around. It’s inside the KRP where the magic happens though, where two main services are offered to these innovators. It was only in 2012 that the university’s Shinya Yamanaka won it for inventing the synthetic stem cell.
It has been the huge number of successful companies that have emerged from Kyoto University that has seen the government, academics and business leaders work together to link capital funding with start-ups in tech, energy and biotech. The Kyoto University Venture Fund is a prime example of this. Then there’s Innovation Hub Kyoto, which opened in 2017 in the Med-Pharm Collaboration building of the university. It aims to foster biomedical ventures and promote commercialisation of research. Visiting the university, it’s incredibly big and spread out. For those with an interest in it as a working tech hub, it’s best to visit for a specific lecture or arrange with a member of staff, as otherwise you could spend ages walking endless corridors.
Arguably Kyoto’s most famous entertainment-based tech export has been Nintendo. The headquarters of Nintendo are still based in Kyoto. First, visit the old HQ, which is situated in the middle of the ancient city, though there’s not much around it. You can see the original signs on the building, but you can’t go in, sadly there isn’t a museum or gift shop for Nintendo fans. Plenty of investment, strong academia, a long history and supportive infrastructure mean Kyoto’s tech hub should have a bright future.
In November 2015 the Japanese electronics company started a project called «Kyoto KADEN Lab.» It aims to push innovation while collaborating with traditional industries in Kyoto. It is both a process of analyzing what products make our life meaningful and creating objects which encapsulate and add to this experience.Kyoto KADEN Lab. won international acclaim during the first phase of the project, called “Electronic Meets Crafts.” Designers and craftsmen collaborated to create 10 prototypes of future consumer products, which would awaken memories and the five senses. The project won the Best Storytelling Award at the Milano Salone in 2017. Riding a wave of international acclaim, Panasonic moved forward and introduced “Electronics Meets Crafts: Engraving Phenomenon.” This second phase created five prototypes aiming to recall the deepest experiences engraved in our memories.Since Panasonic aims to foster creative innovation, there seemed no better place to do it than the hub of culture in Japan: Kyoto.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Kyōto is one of the largest cities in Japan. Its population—which includes a sizable foreign community comprising mainly Koreans , Chinese, and Americans—has remained relatively stable for a number of years. Most of the city’s residents live in the central districts, but increasingly people are moving to outlying and suburban areas.A major item remaining on the municipal agenda has been how to assimilate the thousands of burakumin, the historical outcaste group, who live in segregated communities in the city. This has been a continuing social problem largely in the older urban areas of western Japan, particularly Kyōto, Ōsaka, and Kōbe. Despite the fact that the last discriminatory legal bars were removed in 1969, social and occupational progress has lagged.
Historically, Kyoto was the largest city in Japan, later surpassed by Osaka and Edo towards the end of the 16th century. In the pre-war years, Kyoto traded places with Kobe and Nagoya ranking as the 4th and 5th largest city. With its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact – it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan. Among the most famous temples in Japan are Kiyomizu-dera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion; and Ryōan-ji, famous for its rock garden. The Heian Jingū is a Shinto shrine, built in 1895, celebrating the Imperial family and commemorating the first and last emperors to reside in Kyoto. Three special sites have connections to the imperial family: the Kyoto Gyoen area including the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Sentō Imperial Palace, homes of the Emperors of Japan for many centuries; Katsura Imperial Villa, one of the nation's finest architectural treasures; and Shugaku-in Imperial Villa, one of its best Japanese gardens. In addition, the temple of Sennyu-ji houses the tombs of the emperors from Shijō to Kōmei.
Other sites in Kyoto include Arashiyama, the Gion and Pontochō geisha quarters, the Philosopher's Walk, and the canals that line some of the older streets. The «Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto» are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Kyoto is renowned for its abundance of delicious Japanese foods and cuisine. The special circumstances of Kyoto as a city away from the sea and home to many Buddhist temples resulted in the development of a variety of vegetables peculiar to the Kyoto area . Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto. Many jidaigeki, action films featuring samurai, were shot at Toei Uzumasa Eigamura. A film set and theme park in one, Eigamura features replicas of traditional Japanese buildings, which are used for jidaigeki. Among the sets are a replica of the old Nihonbashi , a traditional courthouse, a Meiji Period police box and part of the former Yoshiwara red-light district. Actual film shooting takes place occasionally, and visitors are welcome to observe the action.
The dialect spoken in Kyoto is known as Kyō-kotoba or Kyōto-ben, a constituent dialect of the Kansai dialect. When Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the Kyoto dialect was the de facto standard Japanese and influenced the development of Tokyo dialect, the modern standard Japanese.