Kyoto's long history is one of great prosperity (the Heian Period of a millennium ago, when the arts flourished) and great tragedy (the 1467-1477 Onin War devastated the city). But in more modern times, 1868 was something of an annus horribilis.

The year that kicked off the Meiji Restoration was the beginning of an exodus from Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo) that would see Emperor Meiji, his retainers and the multitude of artists and craftsmen who served the Imperial court say goodbye to the old capital. Just a few years after 1868, Kyoto had lost a third of its population as well as its over 1,000-year position as the cultural and spiritual center of the country.

But next year, Kyoto will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration with a series of events that accent the positive, all with an eye on keeping tourists happy. A full program of seminars, exhibitions and public events is planned.