Gion
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The most famous neighborhood in Kyoto is also known as the Geisha district. It is here, among the tea houses and private clubs, that you can catch a glimpse of a geisha in full dress including white makeup.
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The area
Neighborhood: Gion
Gion is Kyoto's famed Geisha District (called "Geiko" in Kyoto). Though Gion's many tea houses and entertainment restaurants are closed to foreigners, Geiko and Maiko in their traditional makeup with gilded hair in full kimono can be seen drifting the streets on their way to and from work, where they fan dance, sing, and play instruments for customers. Gion lights up at night, when the ancient-looking streets glow with lanterns along the river, where weeping willows catch the starlight and the air is warmed with conversation. Groups pass through to populate the restaurants and bars along the riverfront, but Gion still manages to be a mostly quiet district, due in large part to limited automotive traffic through many of its streets. Gion is a wonderful place to indulge in Kyoto's local and customary cuisines, and is best enjoyed after dark.
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  • caj68
    Staines, United Kingdom146 contributions
    Temples, food stalls and Geishas and Maikos if you are lucky.
    I visited in the late afternoon hoping to see a Geisha and found the Kennin Ji Temple which I thoroughly recommend. I had resigned myself to not seeing any Geishas and was enjoying the old wooden architecture when out came 2 Maikos being escorted to one of the tea houses. Beware that this road is a private road and photography is prohibited as so many girls have been bothered by the tourists taking pictures. There is a 10000Yen fine for taking pictures in this area although a few people took the risk. I would go again in the hopes of catching a glimpse of these cultural icons. Interesting to note that Maikos are the 1st year apprentices. They only paint the lower lip and they have long adornments to their hair decorations. Their own hair is teased into the grand buns. Their Kimono sleeves are much longer and the Obi at the back is much longer than the 2nd year Geikos. At the end of the main street is the Yasaka Shrine with the alley of food stalls. Make sure you use the seating areas to eat as you cannot walk along eating. There is so much more to explore but sadly I ran out of time.
    Visited February 2020
    Written February 9, 2020
  • Della G
    Coquitlam, Canada808 contributions
    Gion District
    I have visited this district both during the day and evening and trying to catch a glimpse of a geisha is next to impossible. Putting that aside, this is one of Kyoto's most famous neighborhoods. It is most unique in that the buildings still maintain the old traditional architecture of old Japan. I don't know where the average Japanese citizen would venture into the local bars and restaurants where the geisha services are summon for business patrons. I don't imagine that many women frequent the bars, probably more so on a special tour. A stroll through this area in the evening is most entrancing, dimly lantern lit buildings and streets adds to the mystique of an era gone by. Definitely a must see when in Kyoto.
    Visited December 2019
    Written August 9, 2020
  • Purplepinay
    Luzon, Philippines413 contributions
    Elusive
    So we went to Gion in the late afternoon/early evening because we learned this was the best time to do it. We were rewarded by a sighting of real maiko as they were getting into a car. Unfortunately, this is all we got. It's a good thing I enjoy architecture because I did appreciate the beautiful, old wooden structures. This part of the city is truly wonderful to behold. I have to say though that because it was January, it was cold walking around. I imaging spring and fall would be a better time to walk around.
    Visited January 2020
    Written February 8, 2020
  • johnandlizb
    Leamington Spa, United Kingdom1,011 contributions
    Pretty but very busy
    Gion is very beautiful but very busy. There are signs up everywhere saying no photography but most people do take pictures. There a re many girls in kimonos that they rent for the day, but i did see one genuine geisha with the proper hairstyle. There was one venue advertising spaces in their evening show which looked quite traditional rather than showy, at a very reasonable price, however we could not raise anyone at the venue in order to buy tickets, so we were disappointed. Step off the main street and you are totally alone, and that was very nice.
    Visited February 2020
    Written March 22, 2020
  • Chris C
    Duncan, Canada37 contributions
    Underwhelming
    We expected such great things from this historic Kyoto district, but the main street was ALL about shopping, side streets were too "new" looking and people who actually LIVE here are deeply resentful of the onslaught of tourists - we even saw a number of signs saying "do not take pictures".... it was also very difficult to find a restaurant for dinner, not that many remained open after 6pm. So, all in all, disappointing. Even Yasanka Shrine, at the end of the main street, although striking with its' gorgeous red paint, was just a chaotic, touristy zoo. And any "geisha" or "maiko" that you see aren't real, it's just a bunch of young Japanese woman that rent their kimonos for the day - there were rental shops everywhere. We felt it was all just very fake and touristy.
    Visited March 2020
    Written March 28, 2020
  • Pema D
    Nagoya, Japan31 contributions
    Over rated, crowded and nothing there
    Apparently this place was too over rated. There was nothing there except for the heaps of crowd who are also doing nothing but figuring out what they came to see. However, if you are there on new year eve then it’s wonderful. Locals gather there to pray at the shrin at midnight so it’s wonderful. I would only recommend you to just watch from the side and not make the life of locals miserable for it is a tradition and way of life for them.
    Visited January 2020
    Written January 10, 2020
  • Frank
    4 contributions
    A beautiful place where old meets new
    Narrow streets which you don’t really know they are there, but is a wonderful surprise when you fall upon it, where traditional Japan meets modern Japan. A place where young people proudly wear and promenade in traditional dress. It may also be for their instagram pictures but their respect for their heritage is clear. The narrow streets lead to the shrine at the top , which is yet another beautiful place of peace and serenity, with a panoramic view over the city. A hidden gem.
    Visited October 2019
    Written February 11, 2020
  • Randall K
    Canberra, Australia1,252 contributions
    Great to return here
    This was my 2nd visit to Kyoto and this area was a must see for us. I like being able to wander around the streets and just explore what is around each corner. The architecture of the buildings, the various adornments, the various shops, tea houses and occasional authentic geishas and maikos help to make this place a special area to visit.
    Visited April 2019
    Written February 29, 2020
  • gillv63
    Paradise Point, Australia638 contributions
    Geishas everywhere!
    Don’t be fooled by the geishas everywhere... mostly they are Japanese who have rented a kimono for a day, done their hair etc. and trip around Gion. However you will probably see a few genuine geishas or meiko too. Good area for bars and restaurants
    Visited February 2020
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 27, 2020
  • Safariholic
    Horsham, United Kingdom1,982 contributions
    They say and claim it as a Must and I agree
    Take the Guided Walking Tour from the bridge - Free but you tip him/her at the end. Interesting to hear the truth about Geishas - the Costs, Adoption, Rules, Training, Strictures etc etc - and to explode a few myths. The Gion area is quite close to Town and an easy walk around a quaint neighbourhood of narrow streeets of very old classic Japanses architecture, with a smattering of real genuine Gieshas, and quite a few Tourists in Rented Kimono's (Japanese and others) doing Photoshoots for Weddings, Graduation Ceremonies, significant Birthdays, PR Stunts etc aswell as the throng doing selfies 24/7. To add to this were 2/3 TV crews shooting films or TV scenes. Busy at all times, but allegedly peak is late afternoon / early evening when the light is at its best. Very pleasant, informative, enjoyable way to pass a few hours.
    Visited September 2019
    Written July 25, 2020
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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johnandlizb
Leamington Spa, UK1,011 contributions
Feb 2020
Gion is very beautiful but very busy. There are signs up everywhere saying no photography but most people do take pictures. There a re many girls in kimonos that they rent for the day, but i did see one genuine geisha with the proper hairstyle. There was one venue advertising spaces in their evening show which looked quite traditional rather than showy, at a very reasonable price, however we could not raise anyone at the venue in order to buy tickets, so we were disappointed. Step off the main street and you are totally alone, and that was very nice.
Written March 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris C
Duncan, Canada37 contributions
Mar 2020
We expected such great things from this historic Kyoto district, but the main street was ALL about shopping, side streets were too "new" looking and people who actually LIVE here are deeply resentful of the onslaught of tourists - we even saw a number of signs saying "do not take pictures".... it was also very difficult to find a restaurant for dinner, not that many remained open after 6pm. So, all in all, disappointing. Even Yasanka Shrine, at the end of the main street, although striking with its' gorgeous red paint, was just a chaotic, touristy zoo. And any "geisha" or "maiko" that you see aren't real, it's just a bunch of young Japanese woman that rent their kimonos for the day - there were rental shops everywhere. We felt it was all just very fake and touristy.
Written March 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pema D
Nagoya, Japan31 contributions
Jan 2020
Apparently this place was too over rated. There was nothing there except for the heaps of crowd who are also doing nothing but figuring out what they came to see. However, if you are there on new year eve then it’s wonderful. Locals gather there to pray at the shrin at midnight so it’s wonderful. I would only recommend you to just watch from the side and not make the life of locals miserable for it is a tradition and way of life for them.
Written January 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Frank
4 contributions
Oct 2019
Narrow streets which you don’t really know they are there, but is a wonderful surprise when you fall upon it, where traditional Japan meets modern Japan. A place where young people proudly wear and promenade in traditional dress. It may also be for their instagram pictures but their respect for their heritage is clear. The narrow streets lead to the shrine at the top , which is yet another beautiful place of peace and serenity, with a panoramic view over the city. A hidden gem.
Written February 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Randall K
Canberra, Australia1,252 contributions
Apr 2019
This was my 2nd visit to Kyoto and this area was a must see for us. I like being able to wander around the streets and just explore what is around each corner. The architecture of the buildings, the various adornments, the various shops, tea houses and occasional authentic geishas and maikos help to make this place a special area to visit.
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gillv63
Paradise Point, Australia638 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
Don’t be fooled by the geishas everywhere... mostly they are Japanese who have rented a kimono for a day, done their hair etc. and trip around Gion. However you will probably see a few genuine geishas or meiko too. Good area for bars and restaurants
Written February 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Safariholic
Horsham, UK1,982 contributions
Sep 2019
Take the Guided Walking Tour from the bridge - Free but you tip him/her at the end.

Interesting to hear the truth about Geishas - the Costs, Adoption, Rules, Training, Strictures etc etc - and to explode a few myths.

The Gion area is quite close to Town and an easy walk around a quaint neighbourhood of narrow streeets of very old classic Japanses architecture, with a smattering of real genuine Gieshas, and quite a few Tourists in Rented Kimono's (Japanese and others) doing Photoshoots for Weddings, Graduation Ceremonies, significant Birthdays, PR Stunts etc aswell as the throng doing selfies 24/7.

To add to this were 2/3 TV crews shooting films or TV scenes.

Busy at all times, but allegedly peak is late afternoon / early evening when the light is at its best.

Very pleasant, informative, enjoyable way to pass a few hours.
Written July 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

anaest
Vancouver, Canada1,520 contributions
Feb 2023 • Family
This is a very cute small hotel close to the beautiful historic area of Kyoto. If you get out of the right exit of Sanjo station it is only a two mins walk. The no 5 bus that goes to Ginkaku Ji is also a very short walk away. We booked through Booking.com and have one double and one triple room. The communication was fast and efficient. This is a non smoking property, perfect for us.
The hotel is very clean and it is very simply yet pleasantly decorated. The room is small, the usual Japanese standard, but very comfortable. The shower is so warm and with high water pressure. The toilet is separate from the shower, with automatic bidet. All amenities are provided including pyjama. Bed was comfortable.
The service is wonderful with English speaking staffs that was so eager to help and make us feel very welcome. They helped us to call our next destination to arrange for shuttle service. They also let us check in early.
I think the hotel is quite new and some of the staffs seem new to that jobs too, their enthusiasm has a pleasant effect on us and created a great first impression on Kyoto.
Great value, great stay. Highly recommended and will definitely stay again.
Written February 8, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ManchesterAlbion
Manchester344 contributions
Nov 2022 • Solo
Gion is probably the most fascinating district of Kyoto. It should be visited both by day and night, but especially at night when it is wonderfully atmospheric. It feels like old Japan: traditional buildings and narrow alleyways that evoke an air of mystery as if there is another Gion hidden just out of sight. Walking through the tiny alleys feels like stepping back in time.
Written November 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tarnrattana
Bangkok, Thailand567 contributions
Jan 2020 • Solo
I must say this is the combination of new world and old world, this is very classic and magic.

Every house was beautiful and has there own magic. Beautiful wood house with the Gion style made me can't leave my eyes from it. Especially I saw the girls in Kimono. Those who visit Kyoto please don't missed.
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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