Former capital of Japan 794–1868 (when the capital was changed to Tokyo) on Honshu island, linked by canal with Lake Biwa, 510 km/317 mi west of Tokyo and 40 km/25 mi northeast of Osaka; population (2014 est) 1,469,250. Industries include electrical, chemical, and machinery plants; silk weaving; and the manufacture of porcelain, bronze, lacquerware, dolls, and fans.
Features The city's more than 2,000 temples and shrines include Tō-ji (1380), Kiyomizu-dera (1633), Ryōan-ji with its 15th-century Zen rock and sand garden, Sanjusangendo (1266), and the former Ashikaga shoguns' villas Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji (the ‘gold and silver pavilions’). Other features are the Gion teahouse district with traditional geishas, the silk-weavers' district of Nishijin, 17th-century sake warehouses in Fushimi, Momoyama castle, and Japan's oldest theatre, the Minamiza kabuki theatre (early 17th century). Kyoto is the birthplace of such drama forms as No, Kyogen, and Kabuki and is a national centre for the tea ceremony and flower arranging (ikebana).The Gion festival is held in July. Kyoto is a major centre of higher education, with a total of 36 universities and colleges, of which the leading institution is Kyoto University (1897).
History Kyoto, known as Heiankyo and Miyako in the medieval period, was founded in 793. Like previous Japanese capitals, it was originally laid out in a grid pattern derived from China. Civil wars, especially that between the Taira and Minamoto clans in the 12th century and the Ōnin war (1467–77), caused great destruction in the capital, and it has been periodically ravaged by fire, most recently in 1864, when almost 80% of the city was laid waste. Although the shogunate was at times based elsewhere, Kyoto remained the seat of the imperial court until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, and is still a major cultural centre.
Architecture Among the most notable buildings are the Imperial Palace (9th century, rebuilt in 1855), Katsura and Shugakuin Imperial Villas (17th century), Nijo Castle (1603), Rokuonji Temple (Kinkaku-ji) (1395, rebuilt in 1955), Jishoji Temple (Ginkaku-ji) (1480), Daitoku-ji Temple (founded in 1319), Myoshin-ji Temple (founded in 1337), Rengeoin Temple (1164, rebuilt in 1251), and Kiyomizu-dera Temple (1633). These architectural treasures, and the works of art which they contain, preserved the city from bombardment during World War II.
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto