It's not a long walk but it really holds a historical look. building looks new but in the old japanese style. Restaurants there are little above the average price wise. at the end of the road you will find the goin corner were you can watch their performance for 2000 en per person I think. Goin just lies near to shijo dori, a very famous shopping street.
I am a guy, and most would agree that there are more things on offer for ladies to take home than for the men, when visiting Kyoto. I was therefore excited to discover a unique t-shirt store in the middle of Gion with fabulous Japan designs and Western sizes. The store is called "Green-T".
Designs are tasteful - nothing like the standard fare you would find in a souvenir shop (which this store is not). Think cool Japan. I ended up buying three shirts as I couldn't decide on only one.
A wonderful thing to do in Kyoto is attend Gion Corner. On display is a taste of seven kinds of cultural delights - Fower Arrangement, Kyo-Mai Dance, Tea Ceremony, Koto Zither, Gagaku Court music, Kyogen Theatre and Banraku Puppet Theatre.
The only painful thing is having to queue up for the tickets. Refer to the website for pricing and times.
The Gion area is located between Shijo-dori and Kenninji Temple and extends south to the Kamo River. It is where the famous geisha and maiko reside and entertain, and visitors usually crowd Hanami-koji Street in hopes of seeing one. The buildings are all traditional and there are cherry blossoms in some areas to make it pleasant regardless.
Typically, the best time to see them is after 6 PM when they begin to go out to wherever it is they are going to entertain for the evening. There are no guarantees that you will see any, and they typically try to avoid the tourists. If you do see one, don't get so excited that you forget your manners; while they are cultural icons, they are also people, and some tourists seem to forget that and start pulling on their clothes, stopping them, surrounding them, and behaving in all sorts of terrible manners. Geisha and maiko have complained more and more in recent years about aggressive tourists harassing them. Don't be one of these!
In many instances, they will walk and disappear into a building or taxi so quickly that have to appreciate them with your eyes rather than your camera. If that's the case, don't be disappointed! Most visitors will never see any, so if you are able to see one, you've done well!
Gion is the city area of Kyoto known as the geisha area. In the middle age this area developed in front of the sanctuary of Yasaka in order to host the pelegrems.
Later it became the area of geishas, today, it's really hard to see one of the few left.
This is probably the best area of the town to see the old typical houses (machiya) and the ones of them that became tea houses (ochiya) where the geishas used to entertain the customers.
Gion has become famous to foreigners after the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha". This district achieves combining the past and present entertainment options, from the pleasure houses of ancient Japan to bars and restaurants of today. You can see both the modern architecture and historical spots as you walk around Gion. Hanami-koji is a famous street hosting 17th century traditional restaurants and teahouses. You may see a geisha or maiko around this area if you are lucky. Shinmonzen-dori is a street with old houses, art galleries and antique shops. Shirakawa Mianami-dori is another street in Gion by the waterside with historic buildings.
If you would like to have a closer look at the traditional art and performances, Gion Corner provides an interesting show for foreigners. The show consists of performances for Tea Ceremony, Japanese Harp (Koto), Flower Arrangement (Ikebana), Court Music (Gagaku), Traditional Comic Play (Kyogen), Kyoto Style Dance (Kyomai) and Puppet Play (Bunraku). The whole show lasts about an hour and it costs 3150 JPY per person. There are 2 evening shows at 7 and 8 pm everyday.
Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, and one of the city's most popular attractions. The district filled with ochaya (teahouses where geisha entertain), theaters, shops and restaurants.
Kyoto's other geisha districts are Pontocho and the Kamishichiken district.
The most popular area of Gion is along Hanami-koji street. A nice place to dine, the street is lined with preserved merchant houses which now serve as high-end restaurants.
Many people visit Gion hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha or geisha apprentice (referred to as geiko and maiko respectively in Kyoto), and if you are lucky you may be able to see one in the evenings on their way to or from an engagement at an ochaya teahouse.
There's also cultural show held everyday at Gion Corner, an art center at the end of Hanami-koji. Aimed at foreign tourists, the show is a highly concentrated introduction to several traditional Japanese arts and include short performances of a tea ceremony, ikebana, bunraku, Kyogen comic plays and dances performed by real maiko. Alternatively, check out the Miyako Odori, held in April, featuring daily dance performances by maiko.
When you walk in Gion quite likely you will encounter geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha ). Modern Kyoto geisha often still live in traditional geisha houses called okiya. A geisha's appearance evolves throughout her career, from heavily made up maiko, to the more subtle look of an older, more established geisha. The colorful kimonos and obi are fascinating, along with the extravagant makeup. What goes into making and choosing and putting on the attire and makeup is complex, and described at length in web sites devoted to that.
Depending on where they are walking in public, they can draw a lot of attention. It may seem a little weird, with so many people trying to take photos, but hopefully no offense is taken by the subjects. At the Nishijin Textile Center you can see models showing different types of dress in frequent shows. The web link below has information on it.
The GION District of Kyoto is the most exclusive geisha district in Japan.
This is where you go to try and get a glimpse of a Geisha or Maiko ( a Geisha in training).
Even if you do not succed in spotting a Geisha a walk through the GION is a must.
Best time is from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm on a sunny day. Geisha's come out later.
A tripod for your camera would help and wide angle lenses are a benefit.
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