Kyoto, Japan's cultural queen
Trip Start Mar 20, 2009
177Trip End Jul 15, 2010
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Kyoto, "Capital of the West" with a 1.5 M population, has been Japan Imperial capital for more than 1,000 years (794 to 1868). Even as the capital, most political decisions were taken in Tokyo (ie: during the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate - the military political families who ended up giving back the reins to the emperor).
The city is full of ancient buildings (Nijo Castle, Imperial Palace) and host about 2,000 temples (Buddhist) and shrines (Shinto) and is Japan's actual cultural capital.
The trick here is to select a few good temples and buildings unless you want to spend months visiting them all.