Gion District


Looking for some a traditional Kyoto atmosphere floating over tranquil and old fashioned street corner, just skirting the Kamo river running through the Higashiyama area of the city to meet one of the main entertainment districts called Gion. Against the indispensable flow of modernization, Gion remains as an elegant traditional street. No telephone wires, no colorful billboard or sign, all you can take into your eyesight is just a long alley running along a narrow canal under the foot of ancient wooden buildings, reflecting weeping cherry blossom boughs swaying in light breeze like tearing drop by drop down the ancient street.


Gion corner attaches tightly with Shijo street as it lies along the street over the length of about 500 meters, laying its head on the area of Kamo river and Yamato Ojidori street and its legs on the part facing Yasaka shrine of Higashi Ojidori street. The distance from north to south is a little shorter, about 200 meters starting from Shirakaminamidori street to end at Yasaka street. Hanamikoji Street runs from north to south together with Shijo street tearing Gion district into four separate zones in which the northeast zone is called Gion Higashi and the other three are called Gion-Kobu.


Following any direction along the main streets running around Gion district, you will all see the same scene of old houses, art galleries and antiques stores lying side by side till the end of roads. The northern part is quite near Shinbashi street with its traditional restaurants, a little bit further are Shinmonzen and Furumonzen streets. This area is also specialized by Kenninji temple. Here you can also find a huge number of crowded bars and cabarets. On the opposite side over Shijo Dori, it is land of the Gion Kaburenjo Theater together with long standing Japanese restaurants and tea houses. Come to the end, you reach an other remarkable construction of the district, Gion Corner.


Gion district developed as a shrine town of Yasaka Shrine. In 17th century, this shrine was called Gion Shrine, and the entertainment area developed here to serve pilgrims with food and drink. From inns and restaurants, tea houses, geisha and night culture also appeared. When teahouses became the speciality of Gion, the district turned into Kyoto’s largest pleasure district by the middle of 18th century. Kabuki drama also became popular on Gion district then more sophisticated forms of entertainment took shape together with the establishment of art performing constructions.


In the early evening, lanterns around Gion streets will be lit up and beautiful geisha will be on their way to their appointments. Little group by group of maiko and geiko gently walk through the elegant streets of Gion, such a poetic and peaceful scene in the heart of the busy city. Gion Corner is a not bad choice if you want to enjoy the performance by these Geisha and Maiko. It is a kind of museum introducing Gion, its characteristic Maiko and traditional Kyoto's performances like Maiko dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Japanese harp, Bunraku and Gagaku. In summer, the district becomes busy with Gion-matsuri Festival, attracting more than a million visitors. You will enjoy magnificent procession in Gion-bayashi music of Japanese flutes, bells and drums.

Open time: 

From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm


Freely access

How to access: 
From Osaka: take new rapid service to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Line. From Kyoto Station, take bus to Shijo-Kawara-machi then take a 5 minute walk from Shijo-Kawara-machi to Gion.
From Tokyo: take Hikari train to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line Nozomi. From Kyoto Station take bus to Shijo-Kawara-machi and take a 5 minute walk from Shijo-Kawara-machi to Gion.
From Nagoya: take train to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line Nozomi. From Kyoto Station take bus to Shijo-Kawara-machi and take a 5 minute walk from Shijo-Kawara-machi to Gion.