Cherry blossom petals caught on a breeze, the burble of a water fountain permeating the silence of a peaceful rock garden, a pair of elegantly dressed geisha flitting between wooden tea houses … Kyoto is the Japan of the past, the Japan of your imagination. Standing as Japan’s capital from A.D. 794 to 1868, Kyoto has thrived as a hub for Japanese culture, art and education. Given the city’s respect for its history, it’s not surprising that millions of people visit Kyoto each year for a snapshot of imperial Japan.
But no matter where you point your lens, modern-day Japan is sure to make it into the frame. Centuries-old Shinto shrines and pagodas share the city with the headquarters of companies like Nintendo and electronics manufacturer Kyocera. Kyoto’s blend of ancient and contemporary makes it a vibrant city that certainly isn’t stuck in the past.