Introduction to The Kyoto City Landscape Policy 2007 (I.)

The Kyoto City Landscape Policy created in 2007 is a response to the disappearing historical essence in the Kyoto City. Focusing on changes to the cityscape, the implementation of rules aims to restore Kyoto with its timeless and radiant past, so that “Kyoto will always remain Kyoto.” The policy is worked to the finest detail to the color code of the façade, height of banner and coverage of automobile in order to harmonies the streetscape that merges perfectly with the historical edifices.

Having almost 1000 years of history, Kyoto is the home of the Imperial Palace, historical edifices and many exquisite landscapes that historical edifices architects use to “borrow view”-interweaving historical buildings with the abundance of nature, to create a picturesque atmosphere. Therefore stages of measures have been introduced to preserve Kyoto’s landscapes since 1930. Key events include designating scenic landscape district in 1930 (3400ha to 17938ha at present), the establishment of City Ordinances on Urban Landscape in 1972, setting height zone up to 45m for city in 1973, and the establishment of City Ordinances on the Betterment of Urban Landscape in 1995. Unfortunately, these implementations cannot stop the loss of Kyoto’s beautiful landscape as the society is driven by economy and efficiency. Not only there’s a loss of kyo-machiya and other historical buildings, construction projects maladapted to surrounding cityscape, but also the loss of scenery and the “borrow view” attempt for historical edifices created by architects in the past.

Fig.1 Landscape zoning © The Landscape of Kyoto
Fig. 2 Building height regulation map © The Landscape of Kyoto

To tackle the failure of previous policies, the Kyoto City Landscape Policy set 5 basic policies base on investigations. These 5 basic policies aims to:
1. Remain Kyoto as a historical city even 100 years later
2. Emphasize that buildings might be private owned, however landscape must be public assets
3. Stress on the importance for everyone to carry out their responsibility and duty to inherit Kyoto’s landscapes for furture generations

The 5 basic policies are the followings:
1. Building height
2. The design of building
3. Surrounding Scenery and Vistaed view
4. Outdoor Advertisements
5. Historical Streets


Reference: Kyoto City Landscape Policy – Unesco. Unesco, n.d. Web. <>.

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