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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Gion 祇園

The wellspring of geisha culture and kabuki, with lovingly preserved scenes from times past

Gion is the perfect place to explore the Kyoto of another age. Known as the city's entertainment district, particularly for the refined performers known as geisha (or more properly geiko) who have enthralled patrons for centuries, Gion is full of handsome, understated townhouses and teahouses, restaurants serving traditional Kyoto cuisine, and venerable temples and shrines.

Don't Miss

  • Visiting Gion Corner to watch a maiko performance and traditional arts such as the tea ceremony
  • Enjoying a traditional dining experience at a townhouse on Hanami Lane
  • Taking in the atmosphere of the Shirakawa Canal by lantern light

How to Get There

Gion can be accessed easily by bus, taxi or subway from Kyoto Station.

Buses leave regularly from Kyoto Station, and the 20-minute journey will take you straight to Yasaka Jinja. While there is no subway station in Gion, Gion-Shijo Station and Kawaramachi Station are a short but scenic walk away.

Rows of machiya in Gion

The townhouses of Kyoto

The traditional townhouses, known as machiya, line the streets of Gion. Many of these former residences have been transformed into restaurants, shops, and other businesses. Drop in to purchase local specialties such as Kyoto sweets and craft items. You might even glimpse a real geisha in training, known as a maiko.

Woman wearing yukata in front of a machiya

In the theater of song, dance, and skill

Gion was once one of the hotbeds of the visually and aurally stunning art of kabuki, particularly from the 17th century onward. Now only one of its six theaters remains, Minami-za. The performances here include other forms of entertainment, but if there's a kabuki play on while you're in Kyoto, be sure to see at least a few acts.

Watching apprentice geisha learn their trade

If you're looking for a more intimate experience, drop by Gion Corner at Yasaka Hall. The daily dances by maiko are supplemented by other traditional performances and experiences. Although people dressed as maiko can be spotted throughout Kyoto, Gion Corner is one of the places you can be sure you are meeting an authentic maiko rather than a tourist in costume.