Kyoto thrived as the hub of Japanese politics for about 390 years during the Heian era, which began in 794, when the city was officially called Heiankyo, the old name for the country's capital.
Since the end of this era, Kyoto has played a pivotal role nationwide in diverse cultural fields with its great number of temples and shrines.
As Kyoto―one of Japan's most popular tourist sites―was not severely damaged during the Second World War, it has preserved numerous buildings and items designated as national treasures and important cultural assets, enabling the city to attract about 50 million visitors annually.
Main sightseeing sites in Kyoto
Kinkaku-ji, the official name of which is Rokuon-ji, is a temple in the northern part of Kyoto City. The common name Kinkaku, or "golden building," is derived from the main building (Shariden), which shines brilliantly because the exterior is coated with gold leaf, and this has led to the entire temple being called Kinkaku-ji.
The view of the temple, reflected in the water in the front of the building, and the overall landscape that varies according to the season, from fallen leaves in autumn to snowfalls in winter, is something every visitor should see.
Kiyomizu-dera is a temple on a slope of Mt. Otowa in the eastern part of Kyoto City. This temple has a platform built on the side of the mountain offering a spectacular view of Kyoto. In addition, there are dozens of souvenir shops selling traditional Kyoto craft items and candies along the main road leading to the temple.
Heian Jingu Shrine
Heian Jingu Shrine is located in the heart of Kyoto City. In 1895, this building, which is a reproduction of some ancient Imperial buildings, was erected as part of the city's preparations for an exhibition held to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the establishment of Kyoto as the country's capital. Since the exhibition, the building has served as a shrine to deify Emperor Kanmu, the 50th emperor, who relocated the capital to Kyoto. The main gate of the shrine stands about 24 meters tall.