Gion Corner

Gion Corner, Kyoto: Hours, Address, Gion Corner Reviews: 3/5

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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Dancing geishas, puppet shows and musical performances are just some of the regular events to be seen at this popular theater in Kyoto's entertainment district.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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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.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

520 reviews
Very good

9 contributions
Jan 2020
Not sure what to think about the whole experience to be honest. Yes, you get to see small performances of traditional Japanese arts. But the room is small, packed, you barely can see because everyone is hanging their smartphones in the air to film everything and worse of all: kids screaming all around you.
Written January 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Canmore, Canada87 contributions
Jan 2020
The concept is great but this was just sad. The performance lasted barely 40 minutes. The seating is not tiered so if someone tall sits in front of you you will have to just enjoy the music. The opportunity to have your photo taken with a genuine maiko (?) seemed unpleasantly exploitative.
Written January 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ASocial N
Layer de la Haye, UK841 contributions
Oct 2014 • Couples
That it's reduced for foreigners from 3150 to 2500 Yen shouldn't make you think that you're getting a bargain. This is for one hour of "entertainment". There are two shows a night 6pm and 5pm. At 530pm on a Thursday night in early October we bought tickets, there was a big line, and even then we ended up on the end of a row.

The "theatre" appears to be designed so that 90% of the audience get a bad view. The best views appear to be on the RIGHT hand side facing the stage, in the first four to five rows. This will get you near the tea ceremony area, which if you on the other side of the audience you will be unable to see.

There are six performances.

It starts with the tea ceremony and the person who introduces the performance will ask for two volunteers, for people who want to taste Japanese Green Tea. PUT YOUR HAND UP. You do not go up on stage, you go to the small tea ceremony area, and sit on a mat, and get tea and sweets served to you. Sure other people can see you, but you don't have to get up on stage.

As the tea ceremony is progressing, the play of Japanese harps begins on the stage. Then the third performance, the flower arranging also begins on stage. Our performance included the arranging of four pieces of greenery.

The curtain closes and then the next performance begins. While the "noh" play is performed entirely in Japanese, it was actually quite entertaining. Then you'll get to see two dances from a geika/meika.

Finally Japanese puppet theatre. Three people clothed in black with almost executioner like masks on manhandle a large puppet doll around the stage in a bizarre 10 minute sketch.

As you pay for your tickets, you'll be given a brochure in a variety of languages that explains the events of the performance. Read it before the performance starts and it will all make a lot more sense (the puppet and the play won't make any sense unless you do). Get there early (an hour beforehand perhaps) to get a better seat. I stood through the entire performance as I couldn't see anything other than the clicking camera and phone in front of me.

Photographs are allowed, but all this leads to is the constant shutter click and an array of bright screen displays. If you have an iPad, please sit down and put it away, using it to take photos and video in this environment is just plain rude and obnoxious to the audience around and behind you.

It's an expensive way to spend an hour even if you can see what is going on and some of the performances (like the greenery arranging and the puppetry may leave you scratching your head, but at least you will get to see a geika/meika dance.
Written October 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sydney, Australia358 contributions
The box office opens thirty minutes before the show (5:30pm) I would suggest you arrive a good 15min before that and que up. You need to be in early as it is first in best dressed for seats.
Aim to get a seat in the first two rows closest to the stage on the right as that is where the tea ceremony takes place and you will get the best of both performances.
The performances are great, a good range of Japanese cultural aspects! I had no complaints at all! The show lasts an hour in total, take it all in, worth an hour out of your evening for the cultural experience!
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Written June 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ahmad A
Shinjuku, Japan254 contributions
Apr 2015 • Couples
we went there at noon and it was interesting show started with tea ceremony then geisha dance show and ended with samurai fight show at the end its not goanna be for everyone but I like it
Written March 15, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jeff L
Appleton, WI311 contributions
Oct 2014 • Couples
This could be a really valuable show highlighting Japanese culture, but it's run as a cash cow with very high prices and minimal effort to deliver a worthwhile show. Minimal staff, very few performers, not worth the price. The traditional tea ceremony with a few people playing musical instruments while a nice woman prepares tea eats up a large chunk of the one-hour show. There is a slow dance done by one male dancer in a cool costume while a few musicians play some old instruments. Then a lone woman dancer in a kimono does a slow dance with little grace (my wife's opinion) and little apparent interest in what she is doing. Not even a smile (maybe that's the traditional way?). In both cases, the dances seemed very simple & not very interesting, and one wonders why is there just one performer? They do manage to get 3 performers together to depict a story where someone with sake is worried about two friends stealing his sake, so he ties them up, but they still manage to drink a lot. OK, cute, but not much. Acting was weak - could have been funny.

The grand finale, the puppet show, was the main disappointment. The printed program describes a story involving several characters and some interesting scenes, but only one puppet is used as I guess someone is singing or chanting Japanese that depicts the story. The puppet basically thrashes around for a while, then awkwardly climbs a pagoda, then comes down. End of story. I was left saying, "What? I paid $50 ($25 a person) to see that? Couldn't they at least add a couple other puppets to show the story and not just tell it?"

Nice cash cow for the owners who can count on foreigners lining up to pay a lot to experience traditional Japanese culture, but without the traditional Japanese value of giving value for payment received. Too harshly stated? Perhaps, but it was certainly disappointing in its content. Even the video ads one sees why waiting in line to buy tickets show two dancers, not just one, for the woman's dance part.
Written October 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sendai, Japan204 contributions
Oct 2011 • Couples
When my husband and I decided to go to Gion Corner, I'd read the mixed reviews about it and didn't have high expectations. For what you pay (3000 yen, which is about $36), the show is not very good. True, you get a sampling of 7 different traditional Kyoto arts, which is pretty cool (in concept), but the show had a very unpolished, amateur feel to it. Even with realistic expectations, I was disappointed. Instead of going to Gion Corner, you should choose an art form you would really like to see, and go somewhere else to see that.

I would compare it to a buffet of stale leftovers -- sure, you get a variety, but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You're better off with a small steak -- if you catch my drift.
Written November 6, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Matt R
Bruny Island, Australia6 contributions
Oct 2018 • Couples
I was really excited for this performance, though the overall experience of attending this theatre was just awful. You can't pre-book tickets at all - they're only sold at the door before the show. My pregnant wife and I arrived at 6pm with a plan to buy tickets for the 7pm show, then grab something to eat quickly before showtime. Tickets didn't go on sale until 6:15pm, so we had to stand and wait for 15 mins - no big deal. After we bought tickets, we were horrified to discover that the only way we'd have a chance at actually getting a seat inside the theatre was to continue to stand in line and wait another 45 minutes in an un-airconditioned lobby for the previous session to finish. The tickets weren't numbered, and they oversell the sessions, so you're not guaranteed a seat. My wife and I were exhausted after a full day exploring the city, and especially cranky, sore, and starving when the theatre doors finally opened. We were highly doubtful that anything we would see inside would make standing in line for a solid hour seem worthwhile. Even though my wife and I were some of the first people in line, we ended up five rows back for all the people shoving their way past us in the unorganized scramble to get seats. Before the performance starts, the crowd is informed that they are allowed to take photos, so the performances were ruined by people waving their camera phones in our faces for the duration. We couldn't get out of there fast enough, and lamented a night wasted in our short visit to Kyoto.

Simply numbering the seats, and not allowing people to take photos during the performance would transform this endurace test into an enjoyable experience.
Written October 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Yokohama, Japan262 contributions
Oct 2013 • Family
I took my parents to Gion Corner theatre one night before dinner. There are 2 shows, one at 6pm and the other at 7pm. There is no need to book. We turned up at 6:45 and easily got a seat. The performance costs around AUD$30 each. The purpose of the show is to show you various aspects of traditional Japanese culture such as tea pouring ceremony, ikebana flower arranging, kubuki theatre, geisha dancing and another type of traditional Japanese music, the name of which I have forgotten. The tea pouring ceremony happens off to the right of the stage and is pretty anticlimatic. Dont expect much from this. They ask for 2 volunteers so if you are really keen put up your hand and at least you will get the best position to see what is a fairly mundane process in my view. A woman doing ikebana flower arranging does her stuff whilst 2 other women play a traditional Japanese string instrumental. Again, not gripping viewing. Then a small orchestra of about 5 people plays music whilst an actor in dramatic garb does some moves and sings. The music is traditional but not something the western ear is accustomed to hearing. Then one geisha performs a traditional dance. This is probably the most interesting thing.The final act is a comedy by 3 actors all in Japanese. This is probably the longest segment of the whole show which is a shame since it is all in Japanese. If you go, then make sure you read the storyline beforehand provided in the pamphlet handed out to you. That will make more sense of the performance.
In short, the whole performance took about 45 minutes so was in my view pricey for what was delivered. I felt very underwhelmed by the performance and think they should review their approach. But, if you want a mere snapshot of traditional Japanese arts, then that is what you get. But I wouldn't take visitors there again. I would probably opt for going to a geisha dinner instead. Also sit up the front if you want to take photos without getting everyone's heads in the shots.
Written October 30, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Scottish Borders, UK82 contributions
Jan 2013 • Couples
I like the idea of having this sort of 'taster' session for multiple aspects of Japanese culture, but don't think many of them really get enough of a showing... perhaps a longer show might help (and would be more worth the admission price)? The tea ceremony was nice enough, but not much information was given about it, and it was cut into by other parts of the show. I really enjoyed the musical part of the show, and the Geisha dancing was enjoyable, too - but again, not enough information was really provided to fully appreciate even the 'taste' given. The Bunraku was not shown when we were there (Dec. 2013), which is a shame: the kimono-dressing that took its place was very much 'filler', which was a shame too. More music - or more of the nicely-done comedy show - would have been more appropriate, I think. All in all, an interesting show for tourists, but could be better executed, I'd agree with other reviewers. Also, while taking photos seems fine to me, I do think they shouldn't allow flash photography: it's light enough not to need flash, and I think it's disrespectful to the perfomers to allow/use it, and also yes it can be annoying.
Written January 16, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Gion Corner

Gion Corner is open:
  • Fri - Sun 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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