In the heart of Kyoto, only few minutes away from the station by public transportation, Gion (to be pronunced "gea-on" and not "jion") is now particularly loved by tourists. This district is very typical and relaxing, and hides numerous machiya (traditional houses which are today transformed into commercial stores) in which it is sometimes hard to enter without an invitation or a consequent budget. Its streets are renowned notably to host one of the biggest festivals in Japan each summer: Gion Matsuri.
In the center of Gion, we can cite three main streets:
- Hanami-koji, the most famous in the center of the district between Shijo and the Kennin-ji temple, where is concentrated the most typical architecture and hosts numerous high-end restaurants and other tea houses.
- Shirakawa and its sumptuous promenade along the eponymous canal, its restaurants whose rooms are directly over the river and that we can reach by crossing charming small bridges.
- Pontocho, in the Western extremity between Shijo-dori and Sanjo-dori, is a small but famous street known to be the home of many restaurants.
The district altogether is delightful mostly for the eyes, without forgetting to stop by its traditional Kabuki theaters. There are not numerous nor famous temples, with the exception of course of the famous Yasaka-jinja, easily reachable by public transportation on the big Shijo and Higashioji-dori crossing.
The most simple way to admire Maiko shows is to go in "Gion Corner" whose website is translated in numerous languages.
How to get to Gion
By bus (east side) -- #100 or 206 (20 minutes from Kyoto station - 230¥ / ~US$ 2.00), stop Gion
By train -not JR- (west side) :
- Keihan Line, Gion Shijo station
- Hankyu Line, Kawaramachi station
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
"Gion Corner" : shows from 3,150¥ / ~US$ 27.60
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
How long / when to visit
Going there at dawn increases your chances to see geisha
"Gion Corner" : shows at 6pm and 7pm