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    The former capital of Japan, famous worldwide for its temples and shrines, Kyoto was the center of politics and culture for 1,100 years.

    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 and the Yamashiro Basin in the south.

    Kyoto is conveniently accessible from both Tokyo and Osaka by air, bus, and rail. From Tokyo it will take just 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line ’Nozomi.’ Once in Kyoto, getting around should be no problem. There is an extensive network of buses, subways, and private railways in addition to tour buses and taxis linking almost all the major sightseeing spots. Kyoto also has a compact and flat cityscape and many attractive sightseeing spots are positioned close together. Therefore, Kyoto is well-suited for sightseeing on foot or by bicycle.

    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-19th century. 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.

    You may meet some ’maiko,’ young dancing entertainers, who walk in 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.

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