Formerly known as 山城国 (yamashiro-no-kuni), 丹波 (tanba), and 丹後 (tango), Kyoto is known as the old capital of Japan, as it was Japan’s capital until 1869. During World War II, Japan took quite some damage, however, Kyoto was one prefecture in Japan that took little to no damage whatsoever. Because of this, there are a large number of Buddhist temples, Shintō shrines, and other buildings in the prefecture that remain that were built before World War II. This is a prefecture that also boasts a large number of temples, shrines, and other buildings designated as a UNESCO World Heritage, as well as more temples and shrines than one can count. Thus, a prefecture in which it’s very easy to come in contact with the traditional side of Japan. On top of this, Kyoto is a prefecture where many famous historical Japanese figures were born, and where many historical Japanese figures died. Not only will you learn about the importance of many traditional and historic buildings and so on during your visit, but you'll also find yourself learning about those historical figures or other historical events when visiting the prefecture. Even if you’re somewhere in Kyoto that you think you fully understand, you'll always end up learning something new. This is one prefecture that goes much deeper than meets the eye.
The tradition of Kyoto goes beyond just its buildings that are designated as world heritage sites. Though the numbers are dwindling, there are still those that entertain guests via traditional dance and traditional games. They are what are known in Kyoto as 芸妓 (geiko), with apprentices known as 舞妓 (maiko). There are several prefectures across Japan where these girls can be found, but Kyoto is where they originated.
It’s not just these girls, but many of those who live in Kyoto also enjoy the traditional side of Japan, those traditions are kept alive within them. While wandering down many streets in Kyoto City it’s not uncommon to see people wearing traditional clothing. You'll also find many stores throughout the prefecture selling an assortment of traditional Japanese items. Whether it be through the traditional scenery that’s kept alive, or whether it be through the lives led by those who live there, there’s much in the prefecture that shows how much those who live there love their country.
With the restraints that COVID‑19 had placed on those entering Japan now being lifted large numbers of foreign tourists have returned to Japan. Kyoto prefecture (particularly in Kyoto City) is now overflowing with these foreign tourists. Because of this, many people may find it difficult to fully take in the traditional Japanese landscape and the atmosphere unique to Kyoto. Also, a lot of what many tourists would like to see and experience in Kyoto prefecture is not necessarily unique to the prefecture. Depending on the purpose of your visit, we at MORIKOBOSHI recommend visiting other prefectures instead.