Kyoto - the Heart of Japan
Date of Creation:
A Tenmei era, colour-printed woodblock map of Kyoto, Japan, oriented with north to the left, created during the reign of Emperor Kokaku, who came to power during a great famine, but whose reign (1780-1817) is generally thought to have been peaceful. He is the last emperor to have abdicated, although the current emperor, Akihito, has formally stated his intention to abdicate in 2019.
Kyoto is one of Japan's largest cities and also one its oldest. Originally founded as Heian in 794, it had its golden age during 794 to 1185. Home to many cultural landmarks and historical sites, Kyoto is thought of as “the heart of Japan”. The city still bears the name Kyoto, or ‘Capital City’, even though the emperor and the National Diet are located in Tokyo. For most of Japan's history, Heian was the center not only of government but of learning and the arts. Kyoto was laid out in 794 on the model of Chang’an (modern Xi’an), the capital of China’s Tang dynasty, by order of the emperor Kammu. Following Chinese precedent, care was taken when the site was selected to protect the northern corners, from which, it was believed, evil spirits could gain access. Thus, Hiei-zan (Mount Hiei) to the northeast and Atago-yama (Mount Atago) to the northwest were considered natural guardians. The Kamo and Katsura rivers - before joining the Yodo-gawa (Yodo River) to the south - were, respectively, the original eastern and western boundaries. But the attraction of the eastern hills kept the city from filling out to its original western border until after WWII.