ISLAND LIFE

KYOTO - OSAKA

KYOTO
KYOTO

Kyoto served as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country's seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and a modern face. Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.
PONTOCHO
Pontocho is one of Kyoto's most atmospheric dining areas. It is a narrow alley running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of Kamogawa River. The alley is packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from inexpensive yakitori to traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine, foreign cuisine and highly exclusive establishments that require the right connections and a fat wallet. Business hours and closing days of the restaurants, bars and shops along Pontocho vary by establishment, but most places are usually open from around 17:00 to 23:00. Some also open for lunch. An increasing number of establishments offer English menus. Most of the restaurants along the eastern side of the alley overlook Kamogawa River. From May to September, many of them build temporary platforms over the flowing water where patrons can dine out in the open air. Known as kawayuka, this type of dining was developed as a way to beat the summer heat and is a great way to try some traditional Kyoto cuisine while taking in the cooling effects of the flowing water and the lively summer atmosphere. Advance reservations for kawayuka are recommended especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
OSAKA
OSAKA

Osaka is located on the main island of Honshu, roughly in the center of Japan. Osaka City, which was incorporated in 1889, has a population of 2.6 million and an area of 221 square kilometers. Osaka Prefecture, which includes Osaka City (its capital) and 42 other municipalities, has a population of 8.8 million and a total land mass of about 1,890 square kilometers. Although Osaka is Japan's second smallest prefecture by size, its population represents 7% of the entire nation, making it the second most populous prefecture after Tokyo. Furthermore, 15.6% of all non-Japanese residents live in Osaka.


OSAKA
Hideyoshi's Castle Town

In 794, the capital of Japan was moved to Heian-kyo (Kyoto). The period that followed, called the Heian Period, saw the construction of numerous fine temples around the Kyoto and Osaka areas, while arts, crafts and women's literature (such as A Tale of Genji) flourished. But by the late 1100s, as the nation entered the Kamakura Period, powerful warlords gained hegemony over the land, and the capital was moved to Kamakura. Thus began more than two centuries of civil war. During the 14th century, Osaka was largely devastated by a series of wars. Then in 1496, Rennyo, a high-ranking priest, began construction of Ishiyama Gobo, a temple and monk's quarters on Osaka's Uemachi Daichi heights. This temple later came to be called Ishiyama Honganji Temple, and the area around it as Osaka. Thereafter, Ishiyama Hongan-ji functioned as an impregnable fort to defend against attack by warlords. During the late Muromachi Period (1336-1573), Nobunaga Oda, a powerful warlord, took a liking to Uemachi Daichi in Osaka, because it was difficult to attack and commanded a fine view of the surrounding region. It was believed that to control this territory, which was blessed with water from the Yamatogawa and Yodogawa rivers and had a long history of international exchange, was to control the rest of Japan and the world. A decade-long conflict ensued, and much of the temple was destroyed. After that the temple was transferred to the control of Nobunaga Oda. His successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, another famous warlord, unified Japan from his base in Osaka and built Osaka Castle in 1583 during the Azuchi and Momoyama Periods (1574-1600). Rivers were excavated to expand Osaka's capabilities as a base for marine transportation. However, in battles that raged between the winter of 1614 and the summer of 1615 the castle town of Osaka was burnt to the ground.
TOKAIDO SHINKANSEN
TOKAIDO SHINKANSEN (Bullet Train)

TOKYO → (2h10m) → KYOTO 
TOKTO → (2h22m) → OSAKA