For over 1,000 years, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the heart of Japanese culture and politics. Kyoto is further unique within Japan in that it was virtually untouched during World War II, leaving a myriad of temples, shrines and a castle intact. This legacy has been recognized by UNESCO and 20% of Japan's national treasures and 15% of the country's cultural properties can be found in Kyoto.
KYOTO PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENThttp://www.pref.kyoto.jp/en
kyoto city web site http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/
Since Kyoto was the seat of the Imperial household for so long, master artisans gathered here to serve the Emperor and his court. Kyoto offers what a great many Westerners long for in Japan: raked pebble gardens, the sensuous contours of a temple roof, the tripping step of a latter-day geisha. This ancient city holds a special place both in the hearts of the Japanese people and those foreign visitors who have had the good fortune to make its acquaintance. Nearly 40 million tourists visit Kyoto each year. As they savor its treasures and pleasures, they also seek the essence of all that is traditionally Japanese. Its unique identity arises from an unmatched legacy of history, culture and religion - not simply relegated to the past, but handed down from generation to generation and carefully tended in the present for the sake of the future.
Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine
SHIGA PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENT http://www.pref.shiga.jp/index-e.html
Just across the Higashiyama mountain range from Kyoto is Shiga, a small prefecture famous as the home of Lake Biwa, Japanís largest freshwater lake. Shiga, which borders both Nara and Kyoto, has a unique and varied culture and has been the site of many significant historical events, with many heritage sites telling of the long human history of the area. Today, Shiga still acts as a transport crossroads, generating a great deal of economic activity and enjoying a rich and diverse cultural environment.
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