• Time: 2 hours
  • Fee: ¥35,000 (about US$233)
  • Expenses: about ¥1,000 per person

Gion is Kyoto’s traditional entertainment district. It is the realm of geisha and hostesses. Gion is loveliest in the early evening, and a visit to Gion at this time offers the best chance of spotting a geisha on the way to or from an appointment.

Our Gion evening walk starts at Yasaka-jinja Shrine, the patron shrine of the district, and plunges into the magical backstreets of the district. Along the way, we pass along what I consider to be the loveliest single street in all of Asia: Shirakawa-tsuji. You’ll finish by strolling through the Pontocho entertainment district on the far side of the Kamo-gawa River. This romantic route is truly the best way to experience the magic of Gion.

This walk takes two hours and can be done by anyone comfortable with a short walk. It’s mostly flat or downhill. This walk is best done Monday to Saturday. You can also do it on a Sunday, as long as you understand that there’s little chance of spotting a geisha on Sundays. We don’t recommend doing the walk in the mid-August Obon holiday period or from December 29 to January 3 for the same reason. In order to maximize your chances of spotting geisha, we recommend starting the walk at 5 PM between October and April and at 5:30 PM from May to September. Note that geisha sightings are not guaranteed.

The walk costs ¥35,000 (about US$233) per group (NOT per person) plus expenses such as snacks and transport, which average about ¥1,000 per person (if you take a taxi, the expenses might be slightly higher).

For those planning to dine out after the tour, we suggest that you make booking well in advance on your own. It is too difficult for guides to find seat availability on the night of the tour. We do not help with restaurant bookings. Please book online or ask your hotel concierge.

To book a walk, contact us.