Kyoto, which means "capital city," was the capital of Japan for 1300 years from the end of the Nara Era (794) to the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868). At that time, the Emperor Meiji moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo, which was to become the present day Tokyo ("eastern capital"). So began the modern era of Japan.
During the Second World War, Kyoto was not bombed by the Americans because of the large number of World Heritage Sites within its city limits. While cities like Osaka and Tokyo were demolished, Kyoto was saved.
The Emperor's Imperial Palace is in the center of the city, and many famous temples such as the Golden Pavilion, the Silver Pavilion, Kodaiji, Tenryuji, the Heian Shrine, Kiyomizuji, Ryoanji, as well as the Shogun Castle, Nijojo, and the famous Sanjusangendo Hall, the House of the Thousand Buddhas, are all located a few kilometers away. The Gion district is famous as the center of the Geisha and Maiko entertainment center, where a healthy night life existed for over a thousand years.
The city today is a bustling modern city of 2 million people with a thriving tourism industry and one of the finest universities in Japan, Kyoto University.