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KIOTO (Kyoto)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 825 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KIOTO (Kyoto), the former capital of Japan, in the province of Yamashiro, in 350 01' N., 135° 46' E. Pop. (1903), 379,404. The Kamo-gawa, upon which it stands, is a mere rivulet in ordinary times, trickling through a wide bed of pebbles; but the city is traversed by several aqueducts, and was connected with Lake Biwa in 1890 by a canal 6i m. long, which carries an abundance of water for manufacturing purposes, brings the great lake and the city into navigable communication, and forms with the Kamogawa canal and the Kamo-gawa itself a through route to Osaka, from which Kioto is 25 M. distant by rail. Founded in the year 793, Kioto remained the capital of the empire during nearly eleven centuries. The emperor Kwammu, when he selected this remarkably picturesque spot for the residence of his court, caused the city to be laid out with mathematical accuracy, after the model of the Tang dynasty's capital in China. Its area, 3 M. by 31, was intersected by 18 principal thoroughfares, 9 running due north and south, and 9 due east and west, the two systems being connected at intervals by minor streets. At the middle of the northern face stood the palace, its enclosure covering three-quarters of a square mile, and from it to the centre of the south face ran an avenue 283 ft. wide and 32 M. long. Conflagrations and subsequent reconstructions modified the regularity of this plan, but much of it still remains, and its story is perpetuated in the nomenclature of the streets. In its days of greatest prosperity Kioto contained only half a million inhabitants, thus never even approximating to the size of the Tokugawa metropolis, Yedo, or the Hojo capital Kamakura. The emperor Kwammu called it Heian-jo, or the " city of peace, " when he made it the seat of government; but the people knew it as Miyako, or Kyoto, terms both of which signify " capital," and in modern times it is often spoken of as Saikyo, or western capital, in opposition to Tokyo, or eastern capital. Having been so long the iniperial, intellectual, political and artistic metropolis of the realm, the city abounds with evidences of its unique career. Magnificent temples and shrines, grand monuments of architectural and artistic skill, beautiful gardens, gorgeous festivals, and numerous ateliers where the traditions of Japanese art are obeyed with attractive results, offer to the foreign visitor a fund of interest. Clear water ripples everywhere through the city, and to this water Kioto owes something of its importance, for nowhere else in Japan can fabrics be bleached so white or dyed in such brilliant colours. The people, like their neighbours of Osaka, are full of manufacturing energy. Not only do they preserve, amid all the progress of the age, their old-time eminence a, producers of the finest porcelain, faience, embroidery, brocades, bronze, cloisonne enamel, fans, toys and metal-work of all kinds, but they havealso adapted themselves to the foreign market, and weave and dye quantities of silk fabrics, for which a large and constantly growing demand is found in Europe and America. Nowhere else can be traced with equal clearness the part played in Japanese civilization by Buddhism, with its magnificent paraphernalia and imposing ceremonial spectacles; nowhere else, side by side with this luxurious factor, can be witnessed in more striking juxtaposition the austere purity and severe simplicity of the Shinto cult; and nowhere else can be more intelligently observed the fine faculty of the Japanese for utilizing, emphasizing and enhancing the beauties of nature. The citizens' dwellings and the shops, on the other hand, are insignificant and even sombre in appearance, their exterior conveying no idea of the pretty chambers within or of the tastefully laid-out grounds upon which they open . behind. Kioto is celebrated equally for its cherry and azalea blossoms in the spring, and for the colours of its autumn foliage.
End of Article: KIOTO (Kyoto)
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