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Gion (Geisha District) - Kyoto.

Gion. The gem of Kyoto.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.107 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  Each top tourist destination in the world has it's major attractions, where tourists by their thousands flock to experience what is on... more »

Tips:  Anytime of the year, is a good time to visit Gion. I would suggest you time your visit in the evening, around sunset.
Getting here. If... more »

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Points of Interest

This video will take you from the corner of Shijo-dori and Kawabata-dori up to the Yasaka shrine and Maruyama-koen. Then you will return to Hanami-koji area and Kenninji temple.

2. Start, looking-up Shijo-dori towards Yasak shrine.

We are at the intersection of Shijo-dori and Kawabata-dori. The Keihan Gion-Shijo station is in the foreground. Looking-up Shijo-dori you can see the vermilion-coloured entrance to Yasaka shrine in the distance.

3. Minami-za Kabuki Theatre.

The Minami-za Theatre is the birthplace of Kabuki.The performances held here have been designated an Important Cultural Property.The theatre was founded in 1610 (the current building was built in 1929) and has a seating capacity of 1086 seats.
Check the attached link to learn more of Kabuki.

Once you have made your way up Shijo-dori, this landmark becomes quite an imposing sight.
In 2003, while participating in my first Hatsumode (the traditional visit to a shrine on New-Year's day), we came here. Shijo-dori was closed-off to all vehicular traffic. The reason being that the people attending this shrine were spread from one side of the... More

Once inside the complex wander about the grounds and view the many buildings that make-up this complex, and, if fortunate, you may hear a monk chanting.
If you are not in too much of a hurry, move on through the complex to Maruyama-koen (park).The vermilion-coloured Tori in the photo is the entrance/exit to the park.

6. Maruyama-koen.

This is an ideal place to take a break, have a bite-to-eat, and a wonder around the park.

7. Ryoma Sakamoto statue.

Ryoma Sakamoto was a very-famous person in regard to Japan's history. He spent a lot of time in the Kyoto region.
Check-out the attached link to learn more of this man's very-short life and what he accomplished.

After returning down Shijo-dori, you will come-across this landmark (it will also inform you are going in the right direction). This is a very-old and very-expensive traditional Japanese restaurant.

9. Ochaya (teahouse)

The Ochaya is where many Maiko are bonded, as they train and prepare to become a Geisha.
Around the front entrance you will notice a board announcing the name of the establishment, the Ochaya-san (the owners name) plus the names of the Maiko residing there, in this case there are 5-Maiko.
The function of the Ochaya varies widely, depending on the ... More

Kenninji temple is a Zen Buddhist temple and is considered to be one of the so-called "Kyoto Gozan", or five most important Zen Temples of Kyoto.
The temple was founded in 1202 and has large grounds to wonder around plus many artworks and treasures on display.

The Gion Corner doubles as a learning centre for Maiko and displays of Japanese tradition.
From March-to-November there are two-shows daily, commencing at 7pm and 8pm.
From December-to-February there is only the one show on selected days.
Admittance is 3150-yen for an hours performance.

12. Hanami-koji area to Shirakawa area.

This video will take you from one area to the next, via the modern trappings of Kyoto City ( shops, cafes, restaurants).

13. Shirakawa Area.

This is the quietest of the three areas of Gion. In the middle of the area is the Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine.
There also many Machiya here and is frequented by Maiko.
The Shirakawa Canal passes-through the area, with Willow trees lining both sides of the canal and many high-class restaurants overlooking the canal as well.

14. Machiya (townhouse).

Because property taxes were based-upon street frontage, the Machiya were built with narrow frontages (only 5-to-6 meters wide), but extended up to 20-meters in from the street.
There are three aspects of the Machiya I want point-out.
Firstly there is the Mushiko Mado (insect cage window/door). The purpose of this was allow the occupants inside to ... More

15. Shirakawa Area.

The Machiya come in many different styles. Some are converted into restaurants and have a Pine tree growing in an interior courtyard.

This video takes us from the Shirakawa area to the Pontocho area and back to where we began from.

Before entering this area, how about popping-into this restaurant for a bite-to-eat. Their speciality - Okonamiyaki.

The area is made popular by it's many restaurants, bars and clubs. There is sure to be something here to appeal to your many tastes - music, food,drink.
Many Maiko will be seen in this area, as they move-about the different establishments.
Traditional Japanese food isn't the only ethnic food available here. As you will see there is a Spanish and... More

As the lane is very narrow, blinking at the wrong moment, lessens your chances of finding the area.
This is where I exited and, 200-meters away, is the start/finish of this trail.

20. Maiko. What is Maiko?

Maiko is an apprentice Geisha. Geisha, Geiko, Geigi are synonyms, they are traditional Japanese entertainers whose skills include performing various Japanese arts, such as classical music and dance.
The Maiko appear very differently from the fully-qualified Geisha.The scarlet-fringed collar of a Maiko's Kimono hangs very loosely in the back to... More