Kyoto, Japan’s old imperial capital, is found in the Middle Western part of the island of Honshu. It sits about 50 kilometers northeast of Osaka and is roughly the same from Nara. Kyoto is surrounded by the mountains of Higashiyama, Kitayama, and Nishiyama on three sides, giving the city hot and stifling summers. The land area totals to 827.90km² and has a population of 1,473,068 as of 2007.
Kyoto, Kyoto-shi or “capital of capitals”, was founded in the 8th century and was the capital from 794 to 1868 when it was transferred to Edo. Today, it is the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture in the region of Kansai, and has become a highly urbanized city steeped with ancient cultural heritage. It is the center of Japanese culture and religion with numerous heritage sites, Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines scattered all over the city. Tourism is one of Kyoto’s major industries. School groups and tourists often come to see the many historical and cultural sites in the city, such as the Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle which is the old palace of the shoguns, the Shinto shrine of Heian , and Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the golden Pavilion.
Residential Places In Kyoto
Residential neighborhoods, or cho, are predominantly found in the wards of Kamigyo-ku, Kita-ku, and Ukyo-ku in Northern Kyoto. Kamigyo-ku had the prestigious past of housing the royalty and members of the elite in its district. Today, modern houses, apartments, and high-rise condominiums found in this ward house just about anyone. Residential areas in the other wards are also found, but not as large as with the first three. The ward of Higashiyama-ku has a residential area in its western part. Sakyo-ku, on the other hand, has a residential area in its southern part. Several schools are found here, including the Kyoto University and the Kyoto Institute of Technology. The Ukyo-ku ward is unique in that residential neighborhoods are littered with old shrines and temples, such as with Sagano. Also unique is the residential area in Minami-ku ward as it hosts a large Korean population. Real estate properties around the city of Kyoto are also being developed by the government and commercial developers.
Hospitals and Universities of Kyoto
Kyoto has 37 institutions of higher education. Of these 37 institutions, the Kyoto, Retsumeikan, and Doshisha universities are the largest and well-known. Kyoto University is the second oldest university in Japan, as it was founded on May 1, 1869, and is considered as one of Japan’s finest universities. It has produced 6 Nobel laureate awardees and 5 prime ministers. The university has three campuses located at Yoshida in Kyoto, Gokasho in Uji, and Katsura in Kyoto. Kyoto University encourages the participation of international researchers and students. Ample support is given to international students to help them in their transition. Japanese courses are often offered and an advising room for foreign students is established in the International Center. Also, a faculty member in each school or graduate department is charged with international student affairs to provide support for the student’s academics. The Retsumeikan University is a private university which was founded in 1869 by Prince Kinmochi. It has gained a status of being an international university with its numerous foreign exchange students program. It has three campuses, namely the Kinugasa campus in Kita-ku, Suzaku campus in Nakadyo-ku, and Biwako-Kusatsu campus in Kusatsu, Shiga.
Kyoto has a program which is associated with 14 American universities called the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese studies. The American universities provide a 2-semester undergraduate program for advanced study in Japanese cultural studies and language.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities abound in Kyoto with healthcare professionals versed in English. First of these is the Kyoto University Hospital which has a prestigious history in medical research and service. Other hospitals in Kyoto are: Rakuwakai Marutamachi Hospital in Nakagyo-ku, Takeda Hospital in Shimogyo-ku, and Takeda General Hospital in Fushimi-ku. Major clinics in Kyoto include Okano Clinic which specializes in Internal medicine, gastroenterology, and physical therapy. Another is the Mori Clinic which specializes in Gastroenterology, urology, dermatology, surgery, and proctology.
Commercial Places in Kyoto
Shops in Kyoto predominantly consist of small establishments selling souvenirs and traditional Japanese crafts. Popular souvenir items are traditional sweets, fans, carved wooden dolls, Nishijin textiles, paper parasols, washi paper, Noh masks, and Kyo pottery. Some establishments selling these items can be found near the Arashiyama station in western Kyoto, along Shijo Dori in central Kyoto, in Kawaramachi Dori., at Shinmonzen Dori and Furumonzen Dori in Join, or along the road leading towards Kiyomizu Temple in Higashiyama-ku. Temple markets are also good sites to shop for souvenirs, such as those found in Toji Temple and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (Tenjin-san market). Of course, modern department stores and shopping districts can also be found in Kyoto. Most of them are found near Kyoto station and near Shijo-Kawaramachi intersection in central Kyoto. One of these department stores is Daimaru on Shijo Dori in central Kyoto. Its nine levels contain an assortment of merchandise such as food, clothing, and electronics. It is the largest department store in Kyoto. Other department stores are Isetan in Kyoto station, Hankyu,on the Shijo-Kawaramachi intersection, and Takashimaya which sits across Hankyu.
Kyoto, being the center of tradition in Japan, is also the center of traditional Japanese cuisine. Restaurants and small eateries serving traditional Japanese cuisine and local specialties are found in many places in Kyoto. One notable establishment is Musashi located at the corner of Sanjo and Kawaramachi. It is one of the oldest conveyer belt sushi restaurants (kaitenzushiya)in Kyoto. Another famous establishment is Fuka which is an old shop that makes nama-fu or wheat gluten filled with sweet bean paste. It sits west of the Imperial Palace. Restaurants serving international dishes are also found in the city, such as Siam (Thai restaurant), Hati Hati (Indonesian restaurant), Kick-up Bar which serves sandwiches and pizza, and bar/restaurant Cafe Rue Ribera. Western pubs are now common in Kyoto where entertainment was traditionally done in tea houses (chashitsu ) with geishas. Many drinking establishments can be found in Kiyamachi located between Sanjo and Shaijo. British and Irish pubs can also be found in this area, such as the Hub, Pig & Whistle, The Gael Irish Pub, Hill of Tara, and McLoughlin’s.
Service Establishments of Kyoto
One large telecom company in Japan is the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. Application for a line is done by sending NTT a request through fax. Activation date for the line is received through mail. A subscriber may opt to lease a line, for a monthly bill of about 500 Yen ,or buy a line for 70,000 Yen. Upgradeable selections, such as voice mail, touch-tone dialing, call waiting, call forwarding, and caller ID, are also available. NTT also have ADSL (OCN) connection and mobile (DoCoMo) services. Payment of phone bills may be done by paying them through the post office or paying it in convenient stores that display the NTT logo. One alternative to the NTT is CATV which has cable services, internet connection, and telephone subscription. YahooBB also provides an alternative telephone and internet services with their broad band connection.
Japan’s National Police Agency has regional police bureaus which may be responsible for several prefectures. The regional police bureau for the Kyoto prefecture has 191 police boxes and 102 substations. The main role of the police boxes is disaster prevention and to ensure the safety of their towns and cities.
Embassies in Kyoto
Almost all foreign embassies in Japan hold office in the present capital of Tokyo, with the exception of a few consulates that can be found in Osaka. They are the Consulate General of the United States, Consulate General of Canada, Consulate General of Singapore, Royal Thai Consulate General, and the Consulate General of Belgium. These consulates also have their embassies in Tokyo with the exception of the latter. The British Consulate General has its office along Ichibancho in the Chiyoda-ku district of Tokyo. It also has an office in Osaka located on the 19th floor of the Seiko Osaka Building on Bakuro-machi in the Chuo-ku district of Osaka. Train or busses may be taken to travel to Osaka from Kyoto.