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Friday, February 27, 2009

Kyoto City Hall

kyoto city hall京都市役所

Kyoto City Hall is an oppressive pile located at the corner of Kawaramachi - Oike, just north of downtown.

Designed by Goiichi Murata, the main building (pictured at right) was completed in 1927.

It is perhaps the only pre-War building in the city that would not be mourned if it were to meet the omnivorous Kyoto wrecking ball.

Stalinist in both design and scale, the building is forbidding and cold. Entering is like traveling back in time - to a period full of bespectacled men in white shirts hidden behind piles on their desks, halls filled to brimming with cardboard boxes, and windows that have not been cleaned in decades.

Fortunately, most Kyoto residents - Japanese or otherwise - will never need to go to City Hall as most of bureaucratic life in Japan is handled at the ward office level.

In front of the main building is a massive open treeless space - freezing and windswept in winter, parched and broiling in summer - where a flea market is held on the first Sunday of the month.

At the east end of of the main building is a list of Kyoto's sister/friendship cities: Boston, Paris, Cologne, Kiev, Florence, Xian, Prague, Guadalajara, Jinju, and Zagreb. There are plaques and even gifts from some of the cities (see below) on display.

What is worth doing, however, is wandering the area near City Hall: Teramachi Dori.

The narrow street on the east end of City all is Teramachi Dori. If you go north, there are many shops and restaurants along a tree-lined street without too much traffic. This will take you to The Screen, a boutique hotel, and finally to the Imperial Palace.

Access

Take the Tozai subway line to Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae. If you wandering in the downtown area, walk up to Karasuma-Oike.

Telephone: 075-222-3094

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