Originally posted by senseiman
IAlso, arnadstephen, just as a correction to your post, Kyoto has in fact been bulldozed. I've been there on many occasions, its a city of ugly plastic and concrete as far as the eye can see just like every other city here. In the guidebooks you see pictures of pretty temples, but those are all well framed, close up pictures. If the camera gave you a wider view, you would see the giant pachinko parlors, power lines and concrete mountains that surround them. Its a depressing place to visit.
ooh I disagree with that quote highly. I spent 4 months living in Kyoto last summer, in Miburo (home of the Shinsen-gumi.) and I think Kyoto has done quite well both perserving the historical parts of its past as well as allowing for development of the city. I've travelled alot, and Kyoto really reminds me of a lot of the more beautiful cities in the world, very much a European city set into the natural surroundings of Vancouver British Columbia (sans the ocean)
Most of the Temples there are in protected areas, that havent seen major development. I can't think of one that is surrounded by anything more than a quiet suburbia, which is what they were set in when they were built. (They are quite tasteful normal japanese houses if you ask me). The only one that may have seen a bit too much development is one of the temples to the south (its name escapes me but its the pagoda one), but it ran into the misfortune of being built right beside the major arterial highway in and out of Kyoto. The main roads like Kawaramachi, Sanjo, Karasuma, Gion and others were always major commercial centers, so the development on them has seen commercialized growth, like high rises and other buildings that are considered "ugly". But these are limited to the center of the city, not near any temples. Around the major temples and sites, like Nijo-jo and Kinkakuji which are based in areas that are suburban in nature, there is very little in the way of ugly plastic growth. Most of Kyoto still retains the roads from the pre-meiji period, seriously hampering the ability to create large scale development (Miburo is the perfect example). Also the major temples that are situated in the foothills on the eastern bank, have seen little or no growth. The blood temple and 1000 budda temples sit in very very quiet areas surrounded by forests on , with the nearest commercial development a University. There are also little rivers on the east bank that are very quiet and add to the setting. Also you must realize that Kyoto has nearly a thousand historical/religous sites, and protecting each and everyone is a near impossibility, but the concentration of commercial activity on the west bank of the east river as well as Industrial activity to the far south has preserved Kyoto into a beautiful hybrid of a city. Truthfully it is one of my favorite cities in the world (beside Prague and Vancouver B.C.), because of the fact that it is so well developed, maintaining the best of both worlds.