Visit Gion, Kyoto’s most traditional district, where the world of geisha is still alive. The term Gion is related to Jetavana. Hope this helps you make the most out of your visit to Gion . Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. Visiting Gion Corner offers a great insight into the world of Geishas and Japanese traditions, without booking an expensive private service. For 3 days before the parade (yoiyama) the streets are closed off to all non-pedestrian traffic and are lined with street food vendors, with some private residences opening their doors to exhibit precious family heirlooms. Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. We stayed in guest house in Gion (see review for Indigo House Gion) which is old world neighborhood in Kyoto. It’s beautifully preserved, with a paved road lined on both sides by ochaya. The district is also home to some of Kyoto’s most notable temples, such as Kenninji Temple and Yasaka Shrine. In July each year the Gion Matsuri festival is held, as it has been since 869. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images. But since our guide Aiu was with us, it was she who told us that that it was a real maiko-san. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in … The prices can be quite high though, and Japanese conversation skills are usually required unless a translator is included in the package. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. These buildings give the district a beautiful old world charm and, understandably the area is very popular with tourists. Prices in the area are at the higher end of the scale, owing to its popularity and the large number of tourists that visit. Her explanation enable us to appreciate the culture and history of Gion and Giesha a lot more. Pro tip: Traveling around Kansai? If you’re interested in getting to know the Gion district better, joining a short walking tour is a good way to do so. Instead, we get a small share of the profit the seller would otherwise get. Originally, the Gion area developed around the Yasaka Shrine, formerly called “Gion Shrine”. If your budget doesn’t allow for dinner and performance by a geisha or maiko, going on a geisha hunt in Gion is the next best thing. Traditional paper lanterns, hanging from the shop fronts, dimly light the streets. Aya took us through the historical period and linked it in with today where we learnt about this unique culture that is still very much alive today. After you’ve explored Gion, continue onwards to explore more of the Higashiyama district. Just be prepared for lots of walking! Kyoto issues etiquette guides, taken photos of geishas without permission. Bus 100, 205 and 206 are good options from Kyoto Station. Je gids zal de geschiedenis en het leven van de geisha uitleggen terwijl je dit pittoreske gebied verkent. The Shirakawa riverside also becomes more breezy in the evening. The streets of Gion are characterised by old wooden townhouses (machiya) which contain teahouses (ochaya), shops and restaurants. There are quite a number of choices for accommodation in Gion, which include both traditional ryokan and regular hotels. We post only the good stuff to help you eat and travel like a local. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. The streets of Gion are characterised by old wooden townhouses (machiya) which contain teahouses (ochaya), shops and restaurants. The journey takes around 35-40 minutes. Inside Gion’s borders the geisha looked like they belonged, however just a few meters outside, they looked like they’d been picked up from old Japan and dropped into the centre of the modern world. An excellent and informative tour that took us around the Gion district at night. Similarly, in November, Gion Higashi has public performances which can be experienced with the purchase of a ticket. It was a good start of any Kyoto trip if you want to understand more about the place and what makes it such a magical and memorable place to visit. The ryokan has a number of spacious Japanese-style rooms, as well as a few Western-style rooms with beds instead of futons. The Shirakawa canal is lined by willow trees and several high end restaurants. If immersing yourself in traditional Kyoto is what you’re after, Gion makes a good base. Additionally a Maiko will walk in higher shoes than a Geisha. The Shinbashi-dori street along the Shirakawa canal is lined with ochaya, or teahouses. As Japan's tourism has grown exponentially, Kyoto has struggled to maintain its local way of life. Head out around sunset and you may be lucky enough to spot a geisha or maiko heading to their appointments. Visit Gion, Kyoto’s most traditional district, where the world of geisha is still alive. The district was built to accommodate the needs of travelers and visitors to the shrine. Gion may be a small district, but it offers some of the best things to do in Kyoto, from temple-hopping, to simply exploring its traditional streets, to witnessing Japan’s biggest summer festival. Her explanation enable us to appreciate the culture and history of Gion and Giesha a lot more. While walking the streets of Gion it’s not difficult to imagine what life would have been like here 2-300 years ago. To help you decide where to stay, I’ve listed a few of Gion’s best ryokan based on budget. The historic and traditional entertainment district in Kyoto, Gion refers to the area spanning between Shijo Street and the Kamo-gawa River on the west side and the Yasaka-jinja Shrine on the east, making up the unique area notable as the Geisha district.. History of Gion. But follow the road across the river out of Gion, and you’ll find the main shopping hotspot at the intersection of Shijo-dori and Kawaramachi-dori. Kyotos Gion District is one of Japans most well-known “Geisha districts”. There are several modern streets in the area too which house accommodation, bars, clubs, restaurants and the like. It's not yet clear how the bans and fines will be enforced. Gion is a great place to explore, but there’s also much more to see around the district. Secondly, we went to several districts in Gion that if I were to do it on my own I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it. Gion is no exception, and walking through its streets feels like stepping back in time. So far, the practice isn't banned, though -- just frowned upon. Further away from Gion is Arashiyama, a popular district for viewing autumn colours and cherry blossoms, and its star attraction – the famous bamboo grove. It’s one of the most scenic parts of Kyoto, due to its status as a national historical preservation district. Others have reportedly entered private property without permission. Renting a Kimono is a fun way to further immerse yourself into traditional Japanese culture, and of course snap some memorable pictures while you’re at it. That way you kill 2 birds with one stone, seeing the best of Gion while dressed in your Kimono. Some good tips on photographing geisha can be found here. Lovely restaurants and old world architecture is mind boggling. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. In Gion, however, they can also signify ryotei or ochaya – mostly ‘member only’ establishments. Cover photo credit: David Offf. Our guide was very knowledge about the history of Gaisha. Gion (祇園) is a district of Kyoto, Japan, originally developed in the Sengoku period, in front of Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine). Some popular areas in Gion include Hanami-koji street, lined with well-preserved machiya houses which are now restaurants, and Shirakawa canal, a pleasant place for a walk lined by willow trees. There are some smaller shrines in Gion as well, such as Yasui Kompira-gu and Ebisu-jinja. Of course we were just lucky to have seen one but if I alone saw her I probably would have mistaken her as a tourist dressed in kimono. Aside from the more traditional attractions, Gion is also packed with bars and restaurants. Located in the Higashiyama area, Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Throughout the month, there are a few key dates to take note of. The most convenient way is by bus. Both Geisha and Maiko are easily recognizable by their traditional looks; formal kimono, complete white face makup and bright red lips. Gion is located in the northern part of Highashiyama, so follow the path south and you’ll find Kiyomizu-dera, one of Kyoto’s most iconic temples, as well as more well-preserved streets lined with shops selling local food and souvenirs. This tour is highly recommended! For a luxurious ryokan experience with a fun twist, Yuzuya is a good choice. It does however help to keep the website up and running. Gion around this time of the day can get quite intense. The travel time is slightly longer, but you’ll be dropped off directly at Gion. Gion is known as Kyoto’s foremost “geisha district.” Some syrupy depictions in Western popular culture have led us to believe that geisha are courtesans or prostitutes, but in fact, geisha are entertainers, women who have mastered an array of Japanese traditional arts.
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