Gion (or, where are the geisha)

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Japan [KYOTO] Diaries 5-2: Gion | 祇園

Kyoto night time adventure~

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These photos were taken on the main road of Gion: Shijo-dori (where Gion-Shijo, Kawaramachi, Karasuma, etc. station are).

On this road’s east side (of the bridge/river) is Yasaka shrine, and apparently where you’re more likely to see Geisha (but we didn’t see any :c. but apparently the highest chance of seeing geisha occurs around 6-6:30 on their way to work, or really late at night on their way back).

The west side is more for shopping, where large japanese department stores like OIOI and kawaramachi OPA  (where there’s a MURUA < 3 (and a funnily named shop called Titty & Co.)), as well as shopping streets and various other specialty shops.


When I first observed this river and the traditional structures lining the riverside, I immediately thought of Fenghuang, a town in China that I had visited in 2013. Fenghuang is similarly built along a river, and all the buildings had been preserved to still look like ancient China. However, whilst it was beautiful, the interiors of most riverside buildings had been transformed into bars and nightclubs, flashing lights and blasting muffled EDM into the night. So I guess I saw the peace and quiet of this river to be what Fenghuang would've/should've been like. But with electricity haha.

Also, just behind this row of buildings is 先斗町/Pontochou, a very atmospheric, Japanese japnese street of restaurants and Izakayas.

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We then made our way into the back streets of Gion. After our onsen experience in Kurama, we had become somewhat addicted so we went in search for a more ‘local’ sentou (bath house) experience ((in which we felt somewhat intimidated by the local ‘obaachan’s (grandmas lol) bathing haha.


Despite it being incredibly quiet, with not a soul in site, I somehow felt safer than I do walking around at night in a quiet suburb in Sydney.


Overall, I’m still partial to more contemporary cities like Tokyo. The fast paced hustle in a concrete jungle gives me a certain sense of excitement and energy. But an occasional retreat to the serene streets of Kyoto is nonetheless a welcome experience. Walking down these streets, listening to the sound of silence, it was like a brief pause in life. Some breathing room in the non-stop action that permeates a the life of a traveler.

Getting to Gion: depending on where you live, take the subway to Gion-Shijo or Kawaramachi Station and wonder around.




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