Kyoto, located in the Kansai region in southwestern Japan, served as a capital city for over a thousand years, playing a central role in laying the cultural and industrial foundations for Japanese tradition. It remains as an esteemed academic city incubating more than 30 national, public, and private universities, including Kyoto University. While retaining thousands of years of remarkable history, Kyoto attracts a constant inflow of new generations who both recognize the value of tradition and instill the city with creative energy. The artisans of traditional industries continue
to apply modern lifestyles to tradition in attempt to balance their old ways with the present. For that reason, Kyoto is once again recognized as a city with a solid sense of self-awareness that stays attuned to the times.
Welcome to the 67th edition of B.
Around this time of the year, spring shifts into summer, and last year it was at this time when we released our Portland issue. And this year, we focus on another city, Kyoto. It's the second Asian city we've covered, with our hometown of Seoul taking first, as well as the first Japanese city we've spotlighted. Considering all the Japanese brands B has covered, from Snow Peak and Porter to Tsutaya and Balmuda, maybe selecting a Japanese city was akin to a rite of passage. Throughout my travels to Japan for both business and pleasure, I saw Japan as a country I was familiar with. Now, having taken a good, long look at Kyoto made the city seem like a mystery. Speaking with various walks of life living in the city, each person we met made it feel as if we'd encountered yet another layer to uncover. With some cities, you peel back the elaborate packaging and realize the exterior was all there was to see. Conversely, some cities do not try to show off to the outside world, but reveal a dense, rich world once inside. Kyoto is definitely the latter. It offers a definitive contrast to Japan's capital city of Tokyo. While Tokyo glitters with things that seduce your eyes and your heart, Kyoto is a place where those things are quietly and calmly put together.
This calm surrounding provides you with time to focus on yourself. It's not easy to do this in a modern urban existence amidst continuous stimulation. It's even harder in today's era where virtue is placed in trivial things like indulging in each passing emotion or partaking in superficial, bite-sized experiences. Yet Kyoto and its people do not waver. The city stands firm in that face of the waves of foreign capital and tourists that flock to its attractions like moths to a flame. That's why outsider visitors are forced to adopt the stance of an observer. In a way, Kyoto makes current travel trends of "living like a local" seem silly at best. We at B also tried our best to sit back and observe during our stay in the city. It's the reason why we followed the pattern of a typical tourist: arrive, wake up in a hotel, take a walk, stop for some coffee, go to the market, and eat at a restaurant that uses locally grown ingredients.
We also met people in the up and coming generation who preserve their city's traditions. Although it may not seem incredibly exceptional to continue a family business in a city that boasts a plethora of workshops and shops with 200 or 300 years of history, the young Kyoto creators who have incorporated fresh influences into their crafts are undoubtedly incredible people. Our conversations with them gave us a new perspective on "tradition." Kyoto preserves traditions like historical sites and old buildings, but it also retains its beauty and its eye for beauty, as well as the technical skills required to produce beautiful things. As Kyoto served as the country's capital for a thousand years, it's only natural that the city developed an advanced culture. But this culture isn't just present in its museums and storage facilities but in the everyday lives of its residents-something you don't see in every city. Although Japan has many culturally rich cities, the quality of cultural life in Kyoto seems to be exceptionally high. You could even say there's a certain "Kyoto standard" when it comes to cultural identity. The beauty found in an exquisitely preserved garden of a Buddhist temple isn't much different from that of a flower pot resting on someone's front porch in Kyoto. There's also virtually no gap between the attentive service you get from a small shop in a market and the hospitality you feel in a high-class kaiseki restaurant. You could say that they all have come to a good agreement in what kind of a city Kyoto should be.
This synchronized vision is very important when determining the character of a brand. When designers, marketers, management, and employees all understand the same direction and objective, you achieve unified discipline, and it's that kind of discipline that makes good brands. In that respect, it makes one wonder if there's any other city with a brand image as distinctive as Kyoto. We hope that the city continues on its path built by solid craftsmanship, a unique pace, and determination. Sometime in the not too distant future, I hope to enjoy the city again through the slow, relaxed steps of a traveler.
Content & Editorial Director
Kyoto seen through its scenery
Firsthand accounts on the beauty of Kyoto
Objects reminiscent of Kyoto
Sociocultural keywords and statistics that give a glimpse into the many sides of Kyoto
Waking up in Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Walking courses in different areas that offer a taste of Kyoto
Kyoto's cafés capture the ideal urban lifestyle
Food industry experts describe the Kyoto dining culture
Traditional markets and bars encountered on local tours
Meaningful souvenirs picked up in Kyoto
Kyoto's tradition and originality found in communities that carry on family legacies
New potential seen through the creators and innovators pushing local boundaries
Kyotographie celebrates Kyoto's openness and respect for art
The Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto with a romantic nighttime garden
Colors found in Kyoto
People from diverse origins speak about their lives in Kyoto
Global brands that embrace Kyoto's unique sensibilities
Where to Go
Places to visit in Kyoto listed by different categories
Books with comprehensive accounts on Kyoto
- Publisher Suyong Joh
- CEO/Media Director Myungsoo Kim
- Content & Editorial Director Eunsung Park
- Senior Editor Heather Yoo
- Editors Jaewoo Seo, Jean Kim, Sol Lyu
- Photographer Miyeon Yoon
- Interns Diana Park Sooyoung Hwang
- English Translation Seoul Selection
- Guest Designer Gyeongtak Kang
- Marketing Hyunjoo Kim
- Sales & Distribution Sanghoon Kim, Suyeon Kim
- Correspondents Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Alex Seo (London), Lena Shin (LA), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
- Publishing JOH & Company
- Kyoto Pocket Precincts
- I Have Been to Kyoto and Back
- Kyoto: The Monocle Travel Guide
- Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto
- Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know about Cooking