Kyoto City Landscape Policy

May 29, 2017


By  Yu Sakamoto, Kazu Shibao, and Taishi Nishikawa

Kyoto is one of the most famous cultural cities in the world and it still has many important and historical architectural structures even though society has become modernized. In general, many cities have tried to protect their cityscapes by preserving buildings, neighborhoods and landscapes. They do not want to lose this valuable culture. Needless to say, Kyoto has had to face this problem of balancing the traditional with the modern.

Nearly 30 million tourists visit Kyoto each year. Kyoto is blessed with nature. The mountain ranges surrounding Kyoto show a different face each season and are the source of pure water. There are many opportunities for visitors to experience nature and Japanese culture in Kyoto. Therefore many people in Kyoto make their living through the tourist industry. Therefore, if Kyoto loses its unique traditional culture many local people will lose there work. Therefore, Kyoto city enacted several ordinances.

Toji pagoda


Kyoto TowerFor example, many buildings are required to be built in Japanese style. In Kyoto city, there are certain areas that have been designated by the city government as special historical landscape districts. In these districts people have to adhere to a variety of detailed building codes. There are detailed regulations ranging from height, shape and color of roof, angle of roofline, wall color and material. However, it depends on which area, for example if it is near a main sightseeing spot, building codes will be stricter than in other areas. Therefore, MacDonald restaurants or convenience stores in the Gion district are designed in Kyoto style.


Kyoto Hotelthe municipal government, so buildings in Kyoto cannot be built above 45 meters high. However there are some exceptions to this law. The first is the five-storied pagoda at Toji Temple. Second is the highest building in Kyoto, Kyoto tower (131m). It is a symbol of Kyoto City now, but before it was built there were no buildings higher than 45m in Kyoto. So there was a very big opposition campaign during its construction. The second highest building is the Kyocera building (95m). It was built in the southern part of Kyoto city where the height limit was relaxed to 100 meters 2 or 3 years ago. The third highest building is the Kyoto Hotel (58m). It is at the intersection of Oike and Kawaramachi avenues. Its construction was greatly opposed because it exceeded the existing height limits. Yet it was granted special status. The Buddhist community was especially angered and place signs outside their temple gates that said anyone who was staying at the Kyoto Hotel was not welcome to their temple

We looked around the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. The signs of stores had been placed in a low position so as not to disturb the atmosphere of the town


Look at this picture, this building belongs to a famous fast-food restaurant chain. The signboard was set in a low position. In addition, there were not only signboards. Please look at this image.


This image is of a famous convenience store, Lawson. The appearance of the shop was changed to blend into Kyoto’s townscape. The company’s logo color is blue and white, but in this case it was changed to white and brown.

Kyoto has many traditional buildings and beautiful places. Kyoto is famous with tourists. Many people want to visit Kyoto to see the sights. Therefore, we need to protect the landscape of Kyoto. People must keep its beautiful townscapes for the future.

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