Kyoto City 101

Kyoto City 101

Alright so you probably know that Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for more than ten centuries (from 794 to 1868 AD to be exact). And that it is home to what is known worldwide as the traditional Japanese culture. If you are looking for the capital of -modern- Japanese culture (i.e pop culture, and all the remaining sub-cultures [I'm talking to you yamamba girls!]) then you are talking about Tokyo. So now you know who to blame for the global spread of lolikon fetishism.

Certainly, Kyoto is better known as “that old Japanese city with temples and geishas”.

Yup! that’s us.

Or at least, that’s what most Kyotoites want everybody to think, just to keep the tourist crowds well herded and packed into the usual places and leave the rest of the city to people who actually live and work in here.

But this is “the insider’s guide to Kyoto” and we have a duty with our readers. So here it goes.

Not everything is history in here, but in any case this is the list of things that most Kyotoites know that you didn’t know:

  • Kyoto, as old as it may look, is actually the birthplace and headquarters of the following information technology, electronics and well-known Japanese companies around the world:
    • Nintendo Co. (you knew this one, but let’s just say they started as a playing card company back in 1889). The name Nintendo (任天堂) comes from an old proverb: “Do all you can with the power of humans (nin-任) and await the judgment of Heaven (ten-天)”.
    • Kyocera (The KYOto CERAmic corporation produces anything from semiconductors, to solar panels and yes, they still do stuff with ceramics)
    • Osho Food Service Corporation (Better known as 餃子の王将 [Gyouza no Osho] the king in gyouza and ramen chain restaurants in Japan).
    • Omron (A Japanese electronics company known for making the first electronic ticket gate, the first magnetic-card-reader ATM and more recently, for developing the backlight of your liquid crystal television)
    • Sagawa Express (one of the largest parcel delivery companies all over Japan)
    • Shimadzu Corporation (manufacturers of precision equipment, medical instruments, and aircraft parts. This company is one of the few that can say: “one of our employees won a Nobel Prize”. Which was indeed given in 2002 to Koichi Tanaka, and the coolest part is that he is also the only person in the world with a Nobel Prize in a scientific field and without a post-bachelor degree)
    • Tenkaippin (another chain of ramen noodles known all over Japan)
    • Nichicon (a manufacturer of capacitors used on most electronic devices worldwide)
    • Nidec Corporation (like Nichicon, another not-well known company but which is likely found on your optical drive or the motor of your hard drive)
    • Horiba (a worldwide manufacturer of precision instruments)
    • Maruhan (a favorite among the Japanese since it is a panchiko maker)
    • Wacoal (a lingerie manufacturer)
  • What other thing do all these Kyoto companies have in common that consequently lead us to the next point on our list? Answer: that none of their corporate-headquarters building is higher than 11 floors. Yes, not even Nintendo! And there is a reason for that… Kyoto is still full of World Heritage sites and there is a strict building policy enacted which forbids any building higher than 11 floors. So no skyscrapers here. Also, there are some “Kyoto colors” which supposedly must be used for new buildings such as black and variations of brown. And if you were wondering, yes, up to this day no one knows how on Earth the central Kyoto Station got its project authorization approved.
  • This strict building policy also leads us to the next point on our list which is: There are no major supermarkets nor malls in central Kyoto city. And legend has it, that it is also the very reason why Kyoto has the highest density of population of… convenience stores! in all of Japan.
  • Then again with the city layout: Kyoto is the only major Japanese city which was mostly spared from the conventional bombings by the American air force during World War II. It was also shortlisted as a target for the atomic bomb but another American, Henry L. Stimson, gets the credit for convincing the military to point their bombers somewhere else (targeting Nagasaki instead).
  • Kyoto is a touristic city as much as it is a university city. It is home to more than 30 universities including Kyoto University (if Tokyo University is the Harvard of Japan, Kyoto University is the MIT). Their university graduates have gathered more Nobel prizes than any other Japanese university. Then of course two out of four of the “KanKanDoRitsu” universities are in Kyoto (閑閑同立 – aka. the big four private universities in Kansai): Doshisha University and Ritsumeikan University. And if that was not enough, Kyoto also boasts the only Faculty of Manga/Anime offered as a B.A. in all of Japan, and which is taught at Kyoto Seika University. The same university that brought you the Manga Museum (with the largest collection of manga in the world), located in Oike/Karasuma.
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4 Responsesto “Kyoto City 101”

  1. I spent a year as an exchange student in Kyoto Japan, and I have to say I probably wouldnt have survived if it wasnt for a cheap bowl of udon a couple of times a week! There is even one shop where you can eat for free if you do 30 minutes of washing the dishes after! Anyway, I found a load more tasty looking ideas at this udon recipe site.

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