Gion (location,brief overview,events)

Gion

The information about Gion is presented here. Gion is located northeast of Kyoto Station, and Yasaka Shrine, from which Gion takes its name, is a landmark. Gion is located on the west side of Yasaka Shrine and stretches a north-south area of Shijo-dori. Gion is Kyoto’s representative Hanamachi (Kagai) district, with Gion-Koubu and Gion-Higashi, both of which have maiko and geiko (geisha). In Gion, Gion-Koubu holds Miyako-Odori dance every April, and Gion-Higashi holds Gion-Odori dance every November. Gion-Koubu and Gion-Higashi, together with Kamishichiken, Ponto-cho, and Miyagawa-cho, are known as the “Go-Kagai (Five Hanamachi)”.

【Gion Location Map & Directions】

Address: Gion, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Gion bus stop (about 2 minutes on foot), Keihan Gion Shijo Station (about 5 minutes on foot), Hankyu Kyoto Kawaramachi Station (about 10 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 24 hours (Shops have different opening hours depending on the type of business.)
Closed: open year round (Shops are closed differently depending on the shop.)

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Street is free

【Gion Brief Overview】

Gion (祇園) is an area surrounded by Yasaka Shrine (Higashioji-dori) to the east, Kamogawa River to the west, Shimbashi-dori to the north, and Kennin-ji Temple to the south. The name of Gion is derived from Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社), which was once said to be “Gion Jinjya (祇園神社)”, “Gion Sha (祇園社)”, “Gion Kanshin-in (祇園感神院)”, and etc. Incidentally, the names of “Gion Jinjya”, “Gion Sha”, and “Gion Kanshin-in” are derived from the fact that Gozutenno, the god of Yasaka Shrine, was the guardian deity of Gion Shojya, where Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, preached. Gion originated from the precincts of Yasaka Shrine, which once extended to the Kamogawa River. Gion developed as the Monzen-machi (Torii-machi) of Yasaka Shrine. In Gion, around the Genna period (1615-23), Mizujyaya and Niurijyaya began to be established along Shijo-dori leading to the west gate of Yasaka Shrine, offering tea services. Gion-Koubu and Gion-Higashi are said to have originated from Mizujyaya, which operated in front of the gate of Yasaka Shrine in the early Edo period (1603-1868) and the chatate-onna (girls) who worked there. Itakura Shigemune, Kyoto shoshidai (the chief magistrate of Kyoto), gave permission to set up chatate-onna (girls) at Mizujyaya, and the chaya-machi in front of the Yasaka Shrine became known as Gion-machi. Incidentally, maiko and geiko (geisha) in Gion serve at events such as Gion Matsuri Festival and Setsubun-sail hosted by Yasaka Shrine, and they sometimes dedicate dances at the buden of Yasaka Shrine. The buden is decorated with lanterns from Ocha-ya and Ryo-tei, which operate in Gion. In Gion, Eisai donated land from Minamoto no Yoriie, the 2nd shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, and founded Kennin-ji Temple in 1202. After that, the land south of Shijo-dori in Gion was the precinct of Kennin-ji Temple, but in the early Meiji period (1868-1912), the precinct of Kennin-ji Temple was reduced by Agechi-rei of the government, and Hanamikoji-dori was developed. Hanamikoji-dori was widened in 1949, and in 2001, electric wires were laid underground and cobblestones were laid. Today, Gion is Kyoto’s premier downtown entertainment district, with Ocha-ya, Ryo-tei, bars, and shops such as souvenir shops. There are traditional Ocha-ya and Ryo-tei, as well as modern bars. Shirakawa River flows on the north side of Shijo-dori, and Tatsumi-Bashi (Tatsumi Bridge) is built across the Shirakawa River, near which the Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine is enshrined. Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine is worshipped by maiko and geiko (geisha) of Gion to help them improve their skills. Many traditional buildings remain in Gion, and the area from Shinbashi-dori to Shirakawa River on the north side of Shijo-dori is designated as a National Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, and the area centered on Hanamikoji-dori on the south side of Shijo-dori is designated as a Kyoto City Historic Landscape Preservation Scenic Area.
★The origin of Yasaka Shrine is not clear. It is said that Yasaka Shrine was founded in 656 when Irishi, who came to Japan from Korai, enshrined Susano no Mikoto, who was sitting on Mt. Gozu in Shiragi, in Yasaka-Go. It is also said that the temple was built in 876 by the monk Ennyo, and that Tenjin descended to the Gion-bayashi (forest) at the foot of Higashiyama in the same year.
*reference・・・Gion website

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Miyako Odori dance (都をどり, Gion-Koubu) is held every year in April. In Miyako Odori, maiko and geiko (geish) perform their dances. Miyako Odori has been held together with Kamogawa Odori (Ponto-cho) since 1872. Gion-Koubu also holds an Onshukai around October every year.
★Gion Odori dance (祇園をどり, Gion Higashi) is held every year in November. In Gion Odori, maiko and geiko (geish) perform their dances. Gion Odori has been held since 1952.
★Shinko-sai (神幸祭) of Gion Matsuri Festivali (祇園祭) is held every year on July 17th. On Shinko-sa, three Mikoshi (portable shrines) parade through the parish area of Yasaka Shrine. Higashigoza-Mikoshi parades through Gion on the north side of Shijo-dori, and Nishigoza-Mikoshi parades through Gion on the south side of Shijo-dori. Maiko and geiko (geisha) sometimes watch Mikoshi procession.
★Kanikakun-sai (かにかくに祭) is held every year on November 8th. Kanikakun-sai commemorates Yoshii Isamu, a poet who loved Gion and helped write the lyrics to the Miyako-Odori dance. Several maiko and geiko (geisha) attend Kanikakun-sa and offer flowers to the Kanikakun Monument erected along the Shirakawa River.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) in Gion Shirakawa is from late March to early April. Along Shirakawa River, there are 32 Somei Yoshino cherry trees, 7 weeping cherry trees, 3 mountain cherry trees, and 1 satozakura cherry tree. It is said that the view of the cherry blossoms, Shirakawa River, Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine, Tatsumi-Bashi (Tatsumi Bridge), and stone pavement is beautiful. Gion Shirakawa is illuminated every year around the time of the cherry blossoms. The illumination of Gion Shirakawa is popular with domestic and foreign tourists, and it is said that about 300,000 people visited in 10 days in 2016. (night illumination, 桜ライトアップ)
祇園白川桜ライトアップ (Gion Shirakawa night illumination)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-213-1717(Kyoto City Tourism Association)

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Gion is to the Yasaka Shrine. Yasaka Shrine is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kyoto, and is visited not only by Kyoto residents, but also by many tourists from Japan and abroad. From Gion, it is also recommended to visit Miyagawa-cho and Ponto-cho, which are also part of Kyoto’s Hanamachi district.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】

If you plan to visit Gion, be sure to check the latest information.
Be aware of the etiquette of maiko and geiko.

京都観光おすすめ

  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山
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