Exploring Japan's ancient capital with author Judith Clancy


Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than one thousand years. Its history includes the creation, development and importation of some of the world's most beautiful arts and crafts and gave rise to a highly refined artisan class.

At the end of the 19th century, the capital was moved to Tokyo, together with the young Emperor and his new administrative staff. Many of the younger merchants and artists left to establish new businesses in Tokyo, but the original ateliers, workshops, and stores continued to operate in Kyoto as they had for centuries.

Generations of tea masters, weavers, dyers, calligraphers, painters, potters, monks, healers, masters of the culinary arts and martial arts, temple carpenters, gardeners, musicians, dancers, Noh drama and Kabuki actors and actresses continue to work, produce, and entertain at their traditional establishments. Besides its rich abundance of living traditional artists, the city retains more than a thousand temples and shrines, among which are seventeen World Heritage Sites, confirming Kyoto's reputation as the "heart" of Japanese culture.

Kyoto is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains on three sides, bringing nature within view despite the erection of modern buildings.

Parks, gardens, landscaped riversides, and mountain paths are readily accessible as are ancient streets that wind through the East Mountains,and the narrow alleyways of the geisha and weaving districts.