The magical ancient capital

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#2 in Kansai

Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan (until the Meiji Restoration in 1868), is one of the most popular cities for travellers to Japan.

Despite its modest size compared with other towns in the Kansai region, with fewer than one and half million inhabitants in just over 300 square miles (800 km²), visitors love Kyoto for its traditional environment and for its countless temples, shrines and Japanese gardens that have shaped its architecture as well as its identity.

Considered the cultural capital of Japan, it is home to many sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is loved by tourists who come every year in increasing numbers (there were about 50 million in 2014 of all nationalities).

It is interesting to note that in the first half of 2014, more than 45 per cent of foreign travellers in Kyoto were Westerners (Europeans or North Americans), more than twice the number of Japanese nationals.

For simplicity and consistency, we have chosen to group the visits below according to the main geographic regions of Kyoto.

Things to do in Kyoto

Kyoto guides

Editor's posts on Kyoto

Must see around: Kansai attractions

-- View the whole Japan Map
Weather in Kyoto
28 °C
31 °C
-- View Japan weather forecast
How to get to Kyoto

From Tokyo -- By JR Shinkansen train, takes about 2:20 hours.

From Osaka -- By JR train:

  • 13-15 Minutes from Shin-Osaka by Shinkansen
  • 27 minutes from Osaka-Umeda in "limited express", 28 minutes in "special rapid" or 45 minutes in "local"
How long / when to visit

Sublime in all seasons, the city is particularly magnified during koyo red maples (usually in late november / early december).

Other name(s)

京都 (literally, the "capital city")