#northasia #japan: The Classical Gion District of Kyoto

By Monday, October 6, 2014 2 , , , Permalink 0

There is something definitely mysterious about Gion…

The existence of the Geishas and Maikos is only one part of that perspective.  With the art schools secretly running behind closed doors, Gion is a closed world with a mysterious demure only few could afford to explore. Probably many of us wonder, how and where could the elegant artist could be found? Many were enchanted by the movie that Zhang Zi Yi and Michelle Yeoh starred in; “Memoirs of a Geisha” (which was based on a best-selling novel) Since then, many would flock to Gion to spot for themselves a Geisha or Maiko. Many couldn’t understand, not even the Japanese themselves, the mysterious culture of the Japanese form of entertainers, often labelling them as prostitutes, but that is not the case for this profession.

Spotting a Maiko or Geisha is extremely hard, but we managed to spot altogether three maikos/geishas, all during their time to get to work (about after 5PM to 7PM), some would walk, very quickly as not to be attracting the attention of tourists, those who live in areas many have identified as a Geisha school (Okiya). These days, tourists are getting scarier as they will flock at the front doors and have their cameras pointed at the doors like paparazzi’s.

We did this only once, afterwards we find that this act is a bit uncivilised. We left the scene immediately while the other tourists still flocked around to wait for a second or third maiko. There have been complaints filed by the maikos that tourists were becoming rude and bothered them too much.

Soon after, we found out that there are a number of Japanese restaurants around Kyoto (in the Gion District mainly) that has Maikos as their entertainers and server, thus the price of the food is very expensive. A plate of sushi could reach a total of 3,000 yen! Which is why the world of Geisha is only for the few (especially businessman) that could afford it.

A row of restaurants that already have Geishas/Maikos in them, waiting for guests. this is the more quiet street of restaurants, away from the main road.

The lighted lantern outside the restaurant means the main Maiko has arrived for work, and dinner has started to be served. Husband checking out the price of the menu, Cekik darah.

The restaurants and their lighted lanterns, full with customers and their mysterious charm.


According to a signage nearby, there used to be building son both side of the river, but during World War II, one side had to be taken down for bunker reasons.

Another Maiko that we spotted by accident…And another one, who was on her way to work, and immediately vanishes into a fancy restaurant.

A peek into the world of Maikos and Geishas.

Getting to Gion; it is a 15-20 minutes bike ride from Kyoto Station, in the Higashiyama area. You will immediately identify the area with the row of old shop lots well-preserved in the Gion District.

  • The Travelling 3o
    October 6, 2014

    Untungnya dapat jumpa dorang ni!

    • Nur Zalikha
      October 6, 2014

      Semua by accident..kena pergi district ni dlm pkl 5ptg ke atas..mulah dieorg start keluar senyap2 pergi kerja..most naik taxi..ada yg jalan kaki

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