KCJS :Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies

Life in Kyoto

Japan’s ancient capital for over a millennium (794-1868), Kyoto is steeped in history with 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while also being a place where the arts and technological innovation converge to create a dynamic, contemporary culture.

As chic as Paris or Milan, Kyoto isn’t simply a civic museum of its past glory. While you will find shops that have been in business for over a thousand years, at the same time Kyoto merchants and artisans are creating the most avant-garde trends in art, architecture, fashion, and cuisine. Many cutting-edge businesses like Kyocera and Nintendo also have their head offices in this city. As a global city, Kyoto also has communities of concerned activists addressing global issues such as climate change, animal rights, gender, poverty, and refugee rights.

As the seventh largest city in Japan, with a population of 1.4 million people and more universities per capita than any other Japanese city, Kyoto has something to offer everyone. The city is compact and easy to get around. The Kamo River runs through town and provides a great place for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and musicians. Next to the Doshisha campus is one of Kyoto’s largest Zen temples, Shokokuji, and across the road, the expansive old imperial palace and gardens.

Downtown offers excellent places to shop, eat, drink, and hang out, while the surrounding hills provide routes for hikers and hundreds of beautiful temple gardens to explore. The city is full of museums (even a manga and a kanji museum), art galleries, cinemas, concert halls, theaters and clubs for live music, all catering to a sophisticated clientele of locals. And while you are here, explore some of Kyoto’s excellent cafes and French bakeries. Coffee culture here has a history going back over a hundred years, with many classic spots as well as ultra-modern coffee houses where you can spend hours reading, studying, or listening to music.

As a key component of the KCJS Experience, students live amongst local residents of Kyoto either in a homestay, a resident hall, or independently in an apartment. Students soon learn that Kyoto is a very livable city that is comfortable to navigate, whether by learning the bus or subway lines or exploring on foot or bike. Live like a local as you build routines and immerse yourself in your new surroundings and daily Japanese life. You’ll come to know Kyoto as an easily livable and navigable city!

As a Kyoto resident and through field trips in your elective courses, you will develop a special affinity for and a more nuanced understanding of the breadth and depth of its history. You will also have plenty of opportunities to meet with Japanese students from Doshisha and Kyoto University through extra-curricular activities such as our conversation partner program.