Kyoto is probably one of the very few cities in the world that does not really need any introductions. We could have just left it here, but it if you want to know a little more, please keep reading. Though no longer the capital of Japan it still remains her heart. Buddhist temples, Shinto Shrines, castles and gardens to name all of them would take quite some time. Kyoto remains to be one of the best-preserved cities in the whole of Japan, which makes it a great destination if your goal is to touch the history of Japan.
But with the population of almost 1.5 million and is incredibly well connected to Osaka and Kobe, if you are looking to see modern Japan, Kyoto can offer that as well.
kilometers from Tokyo (518 from Fukuoka)
temples and shrines
Though some findings suggest that early human settlements were present during the Palaeolithic period, not much is known about that time, until around 6th Century AD when the Shimogamo Shrine was said to be constructed and it still stands today.
During the 8th century, the Emperor decided to relocate the seat of government to Heiankyo (Heian capital) the name was later changed to Kyoto. Many years later in 1868, the government of Japan moved to Edo and we call Tokyo today.
The city has gone through some turbulent times, to say the least. During the Onin war, which raged for 10 years from 1467 until 1477, Kyoto suffered horrible destruction and did not fully return to her former state until the middle of the 16th century. The extent of to which the city was destroyed during the Onin war, meant that a lot of it had to be rebuilt almost from scratch. Hideyoshi Toyotomi who lived from 1585 to 1598 and was a daimyo (ruler) during the Sengoku period or the period of warring states, lead the reconstruction of Kyoto. This ancient capital burned again in 1864 and not until the early 1930s when the city`s population reached 1,000,000.
During the Second World War, most of Japan was bombed relentlessly with a lot of major cities lying flattened by the sheer number of ordinances dropped, Kyoto was left standing relatively untouched by the rages of the conflict. Although it was considered to be one of the main targets for the bomb drop that was to end the war, Kyoto was taken off the list due to the city`s cultural and historic significance. Because of that, it is the only large city in Japan that still has standing buildings dating to the pre-war period.
Modern-day Kyoto is not lost in history however, it is a large city, still growing and undergoing continual modernisation. Kyoto station is one of the best examples of this expansion. Built-in 1833 it is now the second biggest station in Japan after Nagoya station.
One of the bigger events in very recent history is that it became the city wherein 1997 the so-called Kyoto protocol was signed which was aimed at reducing the greenhouse emissions of the participating countries.
All this does bring us to today. Kyoto one of the most beautiful and well-loved cities in the world by both the Japanese and foreign visitors alike. If you have the chance to come to Kyoto, please do yourself a favour and do so!
Because Kyoto does not have an access to the sea, a lot of the local cuisine is guided by that fact. It doesn`t mean that it is lacking in variety and flavour. It is well known throughout Japan and with a very good reason.
What to try:
Needs no introductions. It is prepared and eaten in China for the past 2000 years and even longer. It is made by coagulating soy milk and applying pressure to the curds, making them into solid blocks. Tofu does come in a variety of different degrees of softness. There are simply too many varieties of Tofu to mention, but it can be consumed baked, fried, chilled and as a part of a larger dish. Come and try the many, many varieties of this ancient food!
Yuba or Tofu skin is formed during the boiling process of soy milk. Thin layer of tofu film is then collected from the surface of the water. In texture and taste it is very similar to tofu and it can be eaten in a great variety of ways just like tofu.
It is a term used generally to describe the traditional diet of Buddhist monks of Japan. It is a plant based diet and all the dishes are prepared without the use of any animal products whatsoever. If you are following a vegetarian or a vegan diet, it is not hard to find a meal to your liking. But it not just about avoiding meat or fish, it is also about the way the meals are prepared traditionally. A great deal of care and thought is taken when cooking these wonderful dishes and Kyoto is the right to come to do so!
Kyo-Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets and they come in a variety of shapes, colours and tastes. They are usually served in tea rooms of Kyoto with traditional Japanese tea. There is a great number of shops and tea houses that serve this and the best way to find out what they are is to come and try them for yourself.
Classic Japanese Dishes
Of course, Japan being what it is, though Kyoto has her own speciality foods and dishes, you can always find traditional, classic Japanese cuisine. Sushi, Sashimi, Tempura, Soba, Ramen and others. Why not come to Kyoto and try these, compare them to the ones you find in Tokyo or Fukuoka?