Kyoto has perfectly set up their city to establish a beautiful co-habitation of natural and historical landscapes with business and city structures. Since the Heian period in 794 when Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the city has maintained their grid pattern to fit the needs of the the people.

During the Heian era, the layout of the city consisted of two symmetrical cities: Sakyo and Ukyo. These cities were laid out in a grid pattern which was modeled after a Chinese design and eventually became the foundation for Kyoto’s infrastructure today.

This way of laying out the city was based on the system of “jobosei” and allowed for the division of the grid to create smaller streets. The Sakyo part of the city gradually became the town’s center for residens’ housing and some agriculture. They also constructed new streets called ‘zushi’ which extended into square blocks in the city to make rooms for even more housing and side streets.

From the Edo period under the Tokugawa Shogunate, the government started to notice the value of beautiful landmarks coinciding with natural landscapes. The popularity of visiting shrines and temples developed over time which established Kyoto’s tourism pull.

To keep the coordination between the natural surroundings and city development, the government enforced laws maintaining the height and size of houses and office buildings to be no higher than two stories and no larger than three ken—a traditional way of measuring surface area.

After World War II, Kyoto did not suffer as much damage as other Japanese cities and most of its historical landmarks survived. However, the city started a project to improve roads, squares and main streets but kept the grid pattern of the infrastructure intact.

Today, the infrastructure and grid pattern that was meticulously planned housands of years ago continues to thrive. Because of this, the city map is separated by perfectly squared sections making it easy for tourists or new people to the area to navigate the city.

To combat the growth and prosperity of Kyoto, the government of the city promotes the Kyoto Revitalization initiative. The goal of this initiative is the conserving natural landscapes, promoting culture and tourism, cherishing all the most attractive features of Kyoto as treasures of Japan and sharing them with the next generation.

Kyoto’s traditional infrastructure has supported the city and its essentials for hundreds of years and, with everyone’s help – tourists, visitors and residents alike – will continue to do so for hundred years to come.

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