Pontocho is a district in Kyoto, known for Geisha, geisha houses and traditional tea houses. Like Gion, Pontocho is famous for the preservation of forms of traditional Read more [...]
Gion Kyoto is a district that time largely forgot. Gion is home to many Geisha houses, traditional tea houses and restaurants. The best time to visit is in the evenings when you can see Geisha and Maiko (trainee Geisha) walking to and from tea houses and restaurants that line the paved streets. The Geisha and Maiko entertain the guests with traditional music, dance and conversation.
This part of Kyoto has two hanamachi (geisha districts): Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi. Despite the considerable decline in the number of geisha in the last one hundred years, it is still famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Part of the district has been declared a national historical preservation district.
The district originally developed in the middle ages, in front of Yasaka Shrine. The district essentially developed to service the needs of the visitors to Yasaka Shrine. Many of the visitors to the shrine could have traveled long distances, so there was a need for accommodation.
There is a popular misconception that the district was a red-light district. However, as it was a geisha district, and as geisha are entertainers. Gion is not, and never was, a red-light district. Shimabara was Kyoto’s red-light district.
Within Gion is the Shirakawa Area, a collection of long narrow streets running parallel to Shirakawa Canal or just near the canal. In Spring you can see beautiful cherry blossom along the canal.