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Kyoto, officially Kyoto City, is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kobe. As of 2021, the city has a population of 1.45 million. The city is the cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Kyoto, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 3.8 million people.

Kyoto is one of the oldest municipalities in Japan, having been chosen in 794 as the new seat of Japan’s imperial court by Emperor Kanmu. The original city, named Heian-kyō, was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinese feng shui following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang’an/Luoyang. The emperors of Japan ruled from Kyoto in the following eleven centuries until 1869. It was the scene of several key events of the Muromachi period, Sengoku period, and the Boshin War, such as the Ōnin War, the Honnō-ji Incident, the Kinmon incident, and the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. The capital was relocated from Kyoto to Tokyo after the Meiji Restoration. The modern municipality of Kyoto was established in 1889. The city was spared from large-scale destruction during World War II and as a result, its prewar cultural heritage has mostly been preserved.

Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan and a major tourist destination. It is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, and gardens, some of which are listed collectively by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Prominent landmarks include the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kiyomizu-Dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, and the Katsura Imperial Villa. Kyoto is also a center of higher learning in the country, including Kyoto University, the second oldest university in Japan.

In Japanese, Kyoto was previously called Kyō (), Miyako (), Kyō no Miyako (京の都), and Keishi (京師). In the 11th century, the city was officially named “Kyōto” (京都, “capital city”), from the Middle Chinese kiang-tuo (cf. Mandarin jīngdū). After the seat of the emperor was moved to the city of Edo and that city was renamed “Tōkyō” (東京, meaning “Eastern Capital”), Kyoto was briefly known as “Saikyō” (西京, meaning “Western Capital”). As the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is sometimes called the thousand-year capital (千年の都).

Historically, foreign spellings for the city’s name have included Kioto and Miaco or Meaco.

Kyoto is located in a valley, part of the Yamashiro (or Kyoto) Basin, in the eastern part of the mountainous region known as the Tamba highlands. The Yamashiro Basin is surrounded on three sides by mountains known as Higashiyama, Kitayama, and Nishiyama, with a height just above 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) above sea level. This interior positioning results in hot summers and cold winters. There are three rivers in the basin, the Ujigawa to the south, the Katsuragawa to the west, and the Kamogawa to the east. Kyoto City takes up 17.9% of the land in the prefecture with an area of 827.9 square kilometers (319.7 sq mi). Wikipedia

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