A privilege to be invited:Gion

The name "Gion" comes from "Gion-sha", the old name for what is now Yasaka-jinja Shrine, as the town developed around the shrine in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

In the Edo period (1603-1867) , tea houses were established to serve those who came to pray at the shrine, with beautiful women entertaining the guests with dances and music. This culture developed into a "kagai", or geisha district, that still exists today. Nowadays, geisha are known as "geiko" or "maiko" (apprentice geisha) instead, and they can often be seen in Gion on their way to practice their arts or to meet customers in tea houses or restaurants.

The beautiful scenery of Gion has been maintained by the tea houses and members of the local community, in an effort to preserve and support the history and culture of the "kagai".

Gion is a residential area, and its residents support its scenery while also leading everyday lives. When visiting Gion, please respect the history and culture that the residents have worked to protect, and behave with courtesy.

In order to protect the appearance and atmosphere of Gion,
please observe the fo llowing local rules when in Gion:

Violation of any of the above can lead to punishment such as imprisonment, fines or compensation for damages in accordance with laws and regulations, etc.

Gion antiquities


This is a barrier called a "kekkai", which comes from Buddhist terminology. It is a signal that the area behind it is private property. Please do not go past the barrier.


This is a paper lantern called a "chouchin", hung at the entrance of machiya. The design differs depending on the "kagai" (geisha district). The white circles in this photo represent "kushidango" (rice dumplings on a skewer). Please do not touch the lanterns, as this can cause damage.


This is a small fence called an "inu-yarai", which were used to protect machiya from things such as muddy water and dog waste. The curved structure is also said to have helped prevent burglars. Please do not sit or lean on the "inu-yarai", as this can cause damage.

Access from Gion

Kyoto Station

  • Bus: From “Gion” bus stop 15 minutes on the city bus number 100, 20 minutes on number 206 to “Kyoto station” bus stop

Nishiki Market

  • Walking: 15 minutes towards the west on Shijo-Dori

Kiyomizu Temple

  • Walking: 30 minutes towards the south on Higashioji-Dori
  • Bus: From “Gion” bus stop 5 minutes on the city bus number 100, 110, 202, 206, 207 to “Kiyomizu-Michi” bus stop, walking for 10 minutes

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