Kyoto (京都 Kyōto, /;/; Japanese: [kʲoːꜜto] (listen)), officially Kyoto City (京都市 Kyōto-shi, Japanese: [kʲoːtoꜜɕi] (listen)), 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 2018, the city has a population of 1.47 million.
In 794, Kyoto (then known as Heian-kyō) was chosen as the new seat of Japan's imperial court. The Emperors of Japan would rule from Kyoto in the following eleven centuries until 1869, when the court relocated to Tokyo. The city was devastated during the Ōnin War in the 15th century and went into an extended period of decline, but gradually revived under the Tokugawa shogunate (1600–1868) and flourished as a major city in Japan. 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, many 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, with Kyoto University being an institution of international renown.
18th-century map with the Japanese capital "Meaco"
In Japanese, Kyoto was previously called Kyō (京), Miyako (都), or Kyō no Miyako (京の都). In the 11th century, the city was renamed "Kyōto" (京都, "capital city"), from the Middle Chinese kiang-tuo (cf. Mandarin jīngdū). After the city of Edo was renamed "Tōkyō" (東京, meaning "Eastern Capital") in 1868 and the seat of the Emperor was moved there, Kyoto was for a short time known as "Saikyō" (西京, meaning "Western Capital"). Kyoto is also sometimes called the thousand-year capital (千年の都).
The National Diet never officially passed any law designating a capital.
Foreign spellings for the city's name have included Kioto, Miaco and Meaco, utilised mainly by Dutch cartographers. Another term commonly used to refer to the city in the pre-modern period was Keishi (京師), "capital".