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Best Things to Do in Gion: How to Enjoy Kyoto’s Geisha District

If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto, Gion is a must-see historic district for anyone interested in exploring Japanese culture.

Known for its quaint streets, ancient buildings, and unique ambiance, Gion has a charm to it that can only be found in this part of the country. Even the power cables have been put underground (a rarity in Japan) to retain its authentic, traditional feel.

Gion is famous for its skilled female entertainers known as geisha, but it’s important to respect their privacy and not cause them stress by approaching them in the streets. Instead, to witness their artistry, it’s recommended to book a private or group event.

But there are plenty of other things to do in Gion as well! You could visit a traditional teahouse, explore the historic streets and buildings, or even dress up in a beautiful kimono – so let’s see how to do just that!

Main image: PIXTA

Getting to and from Gion

The Shirakawa Street in Gion, Kyoto, is beautiful with cherry blossoms in full bloom. (Photo: PIXTA)

Getting to and from Gion is easy, as it’s located close to the center of Kyoto. The nearest train station is Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line, which can be accessed by taking the Nara Line from Kyoto Station to Tofukuji Station and then changing to the Keihan Main Line (approximately 25 minutes one-way and 290 yen).

Additionally, Kyoto is well-connected to major cities such as Osaka and Tokyo via the Shinkansen (bullet train) network.

Upon arrival at Gion-Shijo Station, you can easily access Hanamikoji Street, which is part of the larger of the two geisha districts in Gion. It’s just a three-minute walk from the station, making it a convenient starting point for exploring the area.

Shirakawa area
If you want to take the scenic route to Gion, consider using exit 9 at Gion-Shijo Station. This will lead you to the picturesque Shirakawa Canal, where it meets the Kamogawa River. Here, you’ll find charming dining spots and teahouses that offer views of the canal. The area is characterized by its old traditional houses and the willow trees that line the canal, providing a serene atmosphere that’s perfect for a relaxing stroll.

The best things to do in Gion

The streets of Gion in Kyoto are lined with traditional townhouses called “kyomachiya.” (Photo: PIXTA)

Rent a Kimono and Experience the Traditional Culture of Gion

“When in Rome do as the Romans do.” In Kyoto, that means trying out a kimono! There is no better way to immerse yourself in Kyoto culture than to put on a beautiful kimono or yukata and explore the city.

Kimono and Yukata Rental at Wakana or Kimono Miyabi Kyoto (see links below) will not only get you fitted in a beautiful kimono or yukata, but will also do your hair and makeup!

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