Itinerary Geisha

When people think “Kyoto” they also think “geisha”- and for good reason.  Home to five different hanamachi (“flower towns”, districts) each with its own distinct history, style, and traditions within a highly ritualized world, Kyoto is proud to have the strongest remaining geisha community in Japan, where the word “geiko” is used to refer to these talented women.  Whether it’s enjoying a banquet, attending annual public dance performances, or exploring the neighborhoods these amazing artists call home, this itinerary is for those interested in taking a step into the “flower and willow world”.

Gion Shirakawa Street, Gion Higashi District

OPENING HOURS

Public street and shrine open 24 hours, respective businesses’ hours vary.

 

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

Gion Shirakawa Bus Stop  ⇒ 5 minutes walking from Sanjō Keihan and Gion Shijō on the Keihan Line

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OPENING HOURS

Shrine open 24 hours, shrine offices manned from 09:00 until 17:00.

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

Gion Bus Stop ⇒ 5 minutes walking from Gion Shijō on the Keihan Line

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Kennin-ji

OPENING HOURS

10:00 – 17:00 (March – October), 10:00 – 16:30 (November – February)

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

By Keihan Line Train ⇒ Gion Shijō Station ⇒10 minutes walking

By Hankyū Line Train ⇒ Kawaramachi Station ⇒ 10 minutes walking

By City Bus ⇒ Bus Route 206, 100 ⇒ Higashiyama Yasui, Minamiza-mae, or Gion Bus Stop ⇒ 5-10 minutes walking

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OPTION: Public Dance Performance

Each geisha district in Kyoto hosts an annual public dance performance that allows visitors to enjoy a sampling of the districts’ repertoire and the skill of their geiko and maiko.  If you’re traveling in Kyoto in April you may be able to attend Gion Kōbu’s month-long Miyako Odori, Miyagawa-chō’s Kyo Odori in the first half of the month, or Kamishichiken’s Kitano Odori.  In early May, there is Ponto-chō’s Kamogawa Odori, and in early November you have the chance to see Gion Higashi’s Gion Odori.  The easiest way for tourists to reserve tickets is through the Tourist Information Center in Kyoto Station, but they can also be bought on the day at the theater if still available.

OPENING HOURS

Varies by dance, usually two performances offered daily in the afternoon.

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

Varies by dance, check for the kaburenjō location in each district.

Hanami-kōji Area

OPENING HOURS

“Prime time” to see geiko and maiko on their way to work is around 6 pm.

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

Hanami-kōji Bus Stop, Gion Shijō Station on the Keihan Line, Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyū Line

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Nightlife in Ponto-chō

OPENING HOURS

Many bars are open until the AM hours, but last trains are between 11:30 and 12:00 - check your local trains.

NEAREST STATION / BUS STOP

Sanjo Keihan Station, Kyotoshiyakusho-mae Station, Kawaramachi Station, Gion Shijo Station

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