A leading cultural and industrial centre, Kyoto is in the southern Kyoto prefecture, 48 km northeast of Osaka, in the centre of Honshu island. The Japanese capital between 794 and 1868, Kyoto is now the centre of Buddhism and as such is a site of pilgrimage and tourism.
Archaeological evidence shows the area now Kyoto was inhabited during the Jomon (10,000–300 BC) and Yoyoi periods (300 BC–AD 300). Around the seventh century, the Hata clan migrated from China via Korea and settled the area. Around this time Koryuji, the first Buddhist temple, was built. Kyoto, first named Heiankyo (‘city of peace and tranquillity’), was founded as the Japanese capital in 794, when natural disasters forced Emperor Kanmu to move his palace from nearby Nagaokakyo to Kyoto’s wide valley. Flanked by the Kamo and Katsura rivers and surrounded by protective mountains, the city was built in the style of the capital of the Chinese Tang dynasty, Ch’ang-an (now Xian), around the imperial...