Kyoto (Japanese will say “Keto”, literally “capital city”) is an ancient city in Japan, its capital in imperial times (from the Heian period to the end of the Edo period, i.e. from 794 to the XVII century, the residence of the emperor to 1868). The
area of Kyoto is 827.9 km2 . The current population is about one and a half million people.
Geographical location of Kyoto.
Kyoto is located in the central part of Honshu Island in the center of the historical Kansai region, in a valley (the so-called Kyoto Basin ), surrounded by mountains on three sides.
From Kyoto to Tokyo by highway less than 500 km. A high-speed train will take you from one to the other capital of Japan in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The history of Kyoto.
The date of the appearance of Kyoto is known for sure: in 793-794 AD, Emperor Kammu moved the capital to a quiet place, in the village of Uda . The capital was named Heian-kyo (literally “the capital of peace and tranquility”). The location of the city and the imperial palace was chosen using the methods of the Chinese art of geomancy. The city and the palace were built on the model of the Chinese capital Chang’an (present-day Xi’an ). The city received the name “Kyoto” in the XI century.
Before the historical Edo Period (otherwise known as the Tokugawa Period ) Kyoto remained the main sacred, religious, political, and cultural center of Japan. In the XV century, the city was devastated, from which it managed to recover only by the middle of the XVI century.
Gradually, economic and political power flowed to the capital of the Tokugawa Shogunate — the city of Edo. Finally, Emperor Mutsuhito moved from Kyoto to Edo in 1868, and Edo was called “Tokyo”, the “eastern capital”. Curiously, Kyoto then began to be sometimes called “Saike” — “the Western capital”.
The great happiness of Kyoto is that it was practically not damaged during the Second World War. Many Japanese cities with ancient monuments were destroyed by American bombing. There were very real plans for a demonstration atomic bombing of Kyoto, but the US administration chose other goals and Kyoto, with its 1,600 Buddhist and 400 Shinto temples, remained an untouched pearl listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Attractions in Kyoto.
World Heritage site.
The historical monuments of ancient Kyoto were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
Two cities in Japan — Kyoto and Nara-are the main cultural and historical centers that attract not only foreign tourists, but also the Japanese themselves. Almost every Japanese schoolchild has visited the old capital of Kyoto with an excursion. The main attractions here are Shinto and Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Ryoanji Temple (temple of the resting dragon) is one of the most famous attractions in Kyoto, or rather, not even the temple itself, but the rock garden attached to it. Zen Buddhism, which came to the Japanese islands, gave rise to a new aesthetic. The most original art of medieval Japan is the art of gardens, in which suteishi’s skill in placing stones played a significant role. The top of such art is the philosophical garden of Reanji, in which there are practically no plants. Fifteen dark, rough stones are scattered in clusters on an elongated area filled with white gravel.
No matter from which side the viewer approaches, he will not be able to see all the stones: the fifteenth stone will always be hidden from view, obscured by other stones. It is believed that only those who have attained enlightenment can see all fifteen stones.
Gravel is leveled on thin paths with a special rake. In this case, the stones can be perceived as islands in the sea or mountain peaks covered with fog.
The Karesansui (“dry garden”) in Ryoanji was created in 1499 by master Soami .
The Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji is a national treasure of Japan. In 1397, the active shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who had the title of “king of Japan”, retired from politics, decided to devote himself to contemplation. For this purpose, a palace-pavilion was built, covered with natural gold and reflected in the water of the mirror lake.

The grandson of the creator of the Golden Pavilion created the Silver Pavilion, Ginkakuji, which became a temple dedicated to the goddess Kannon. It was supposed to cover the walls of the pavilion with silver, but this plan remained unfulfilled. The architecture and principles of the organization of the living space of Ginkakuji are considered an important component of Japanese culture. The classic residential layout in Japan has a “study room” source in Ginkakuji. The Silver Pavilion is associated with a special style of Higashiyama in art.
Kiyomizudera (“temple of pure water”) is a temple complex in the east of Kyoto, one of the most popular in Japan. The temple has a small waterfall, a huge veranda projecting over the edge of the cliff, and two love stones. Many young Japanese and visiting Gaijin ask for love from the stones. To do this, you should walk with your eyes closed from stone to stone.
It is impossible to describe all the sights of Kyoto. It should be remembered that a visit to Kyoto is simply a must when traveling to Japan.