Kyoto became the capital of Japan in the 8th century. It flourished as the center for Japanese politics, economy and culture for some 1,100 years, until the capital functions were transferred to Tokyo in the mid of 19th century. Kyoto Prefecture stretches out from the southeast to the northwest in the central and northern parts of the Kansai region. It has four geographical features, the saw-toothed coastal area around Maizuru Bay in the northeast, the Tanba Mountains around its center, the Kyoto Basin in the southeast, and the Yamashiro Basin. There remain many temples and shrines in Kyoto that were built during this long period.
Seventeen historic sites including, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Nijo Castle, are inscribed
as World Cultural Heritage Sites.
Long hanging-sleeved kimono in the Gion district, see the townscape characterized with popular 19th century style latticework, and visit the Nishijin where they weave traditional ‘Nishijin-ori’ textiles with vividly colored threads.
The festivals in Kyoto are famous not only in Japan, but are also known worldwide. The three major festivals of Kyoto are the Aoi-matsuri Festival in early summer, the Gion-matsuri Festival in mid-summer and the Jidai-matsuri Festival in fall. There is also the Gozan-no-Okuribi, more commonly known as Daimonji-yaki, held on the night of Urabon (August 16th). During this festival numerous torches are ignited on the five mountains surrounding Kyoto. It is a summer event.