Киото, Япония

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Iyna Bort Caruso

Kyoto, Japan, is known as the thousand-year capital. Its imperial reign extended from 794 to 1868 when Tokyo took over the seat of power.  However, the city continues to hold import. It is one of Japan’s best-preserved cities as well as its cultural and intellectual epicenter.

Kyoto is located on Japan’s largest island of Honshu. Service on the Shinkansen bullet train to Tokyo takes just over two hours. An extensive mass transit system, along with a grid pattern layout, makes easy work of navigating the city and its environs.

Set in a landscape of natural beauty, Kyoto is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The Kamo River runs through the city and is bordered by paths popular with Kyotoite’s walkers, runners and bicyclists. Come cherry blossom season in the spring, the city is one of the country’s most popular places to view the showy blooms, particularly in the area of Arashiyama on the western outskirts.

Seventeen monuments are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and that just scratches the surface of Kyoto’s historical repository. More than 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines still stand. Many are surrounded by Zen and strolling gardens that are considered to be among the loveliest in the world.

In an effort to balance the modern and the traditional, building height restrictions have limited the proliferation of high rise buildings. Designated historic districts, typical of old Kyoto, have their own set of code and zoning restrictions. Kyoto is known for its ubiquitous stock of historic wooden townhouses known as machiya, which were built up until the end of World War II. Today, they are rapidly disappearing although preservationists are trying to stem the tide. Many international buyers are drawn to Kyoto as a second home destination and particularly to machiya for their historical value.

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