Project Description


  • kyoto gion geisha
  • kyoto gion geisha

Languages available: EN FR SPA JP

Customizable tour: Yes

Recommended group size per guide: 25

Duration: 4 hours

DESCRIPTION – Kyoto: Gion, the Geisha district

This architecture tour will take us through Gion, the most famous Geisha district in Japan. This district in Kyoto arose as a direct result of its religious sites. Its origins date back to times equivalent to the European Middle Ages, and it has remained a living testimony to Japanese culture throughout the centuries. Pilgrims traveling to visit these sites needed food and lodging. Kabuki theater eventually became popular on the west side of the district. The district developed around Yasaka Shrine, a spiritual landmark in Kyoto. Over time, Gion became an epicenter of cultural and social activity. The inns and taverns that sprang up around the shrine eventually transformed into teahouses, firmly establishing Gion as the geisha district.

In this walking tour through the Gion Geisha district we’ll discover Minamiza Kabuki Theater, founded in 1610 as Shijō Minamiza. The current building was built in 1929 in the architectural style of the Momoyama period, with a gabled roof and a traditional tower signaling official government approval.

The Shirakawa River area is within walking distance of Hanamikoji, one of the most popular streets in the Gion district. And, in contrast, the atmosphere in this historic preservation district is much quieter and more relaxed. We’ll cross Tatsumi Bridge, a small stone bridge with wooden railings.

We’ll walk through Shinmonzen-dori Street and Hanamikoji Street to arrive to theatre Gion Corner that offers exhibitions on maiko and geisha, where you can enjoy videos of their dances and where you will learn about their hairstyles, ornaments, etc., in Gion Corner you can also enjoy small samples of 7 traditional Japanese arts in one place.

Kenninji Temple houses many important works of art and design, such as paintings, sculptures and a Zen garden. The extensive grounds of this temple, close to the hustle and bustle of Hanamikoji and Shijo streets, are perfect for a pleasant stroll. Its two karesansui (dry landscape gardens) offer visitors an oasis of tranquility. It is believed to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.

The Yasui Kompira-gu Shrine is especially notable for having a rock in its main square, shaped like an ema tablet, which visitors cover with white paper amulets after passing through a hole at the bottom. Ebisu-jinja Shrine is known as one of the country’s three most popular shrines dedicated to Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune.

At the end of the tour in case you want to do a quick refreshment we’ll visit two tea houses/stores: Gion Tsujiri Tea House where you can experience exquisite Uji teas, tea confectioneries, Matcha parfaits, soba noodles, etc. Ichiriki Chaya, a tea house with over 300-year-old history and the center of the Gion district for centuries. It has been the center of political intrigue for many historic events.

Discover this tour with an architecture at Gion, the Geisha district in Kyoto.