Area Guide

[Kyoto] Gion (祇園): Kyoto’s Most Popular Hanamachi and Geisha District

Gion: Kyoto’s Cultural Heartbeat and Historical Charms

Gion, a prominent commercial and entertainment district in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, stands as a representative hub of the city. Originating from the Yasaka Shrine, once known as Gion Shrine (Gionsha), it was an extensive precinct reaching the Kamogawa area, leading to its designation as Gion. The term ‘Gion Shoja’ contributes to its etymology.

Renowned for Hanamachi and Geisha, Gion features notable establishments such as Minami-za (Kabuki Theater), Gion Kobu Kaburenjo, and Gion Kaikan. Preservation efforts cover the area along Shira-kawa, from Shimbashi-dori in the north, designated as a nationally significant traditional building preservation district. The southern region, including Hanamikoji, holds historical significance as a landscape conservation and improvement district in Kyoto City, promoting the protection and use of its traditional townscape.

Gion Matsuri, one of Japan’s three major festivals, holds UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. The festival’s highlight is the procession of 34 yamaboko floats on the 17th and 24th of the month. Gion emanates historical charm, showcasing a captivating facet of Kyoto.

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