5 things to do around Gion Kyoto for 1 day trip
Gion and Higashiyama area of Kyoto are the best locations to enjoy the traditional side of the city and explore many aspects of the culture.
Here are our recommendations about what to do in these areas!
Watch maiko performance in Gion corner!
However every promotion about Kyoto presents the culture of maiko and geiko (name of geisha in Kyoto), it is not so easy to spot them even in the Gion geisha district.
There are several ways to meet them, like waiting at the tea houses, when they are going to work. But usually many photographers and other curious people are waiting at the same location.
Other way is to join to a maiko dinner, where guests can enjoy beautifully made kaiseki dinner and accompanied by a maiko.
This can be a great experience, but expensive, as it is starts around 20 000 yen per person. But don’t worry, there is a nice theatre in Gion, where you can see maiko dance and other performances too.
In one event you can see seven traditional performances related to kyo-mai dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, koto, court music, kyogen and puppet theatre, just around 3 000 yen.
Website of Gion corner:
See dragons in Kenninji temple!
Kenninji temple is located in the heart of Gion, but for some reason it is overlooked by travelers and usually it is not so crowded.
This temple has everything what a Japan-lover needs!
Beautiful stone garden, evergreen inner garden, many decorated sliding doors, a corner dedicated for matcha and other Japanese teas (yes, you can taste it) and moreover a huge dragon painting on the ceiling of the main hall.
Kenninji was the first temple in Kyoto, where the original, China-style tea ceremony was introduced, and one time a year they have this simple style of tea ceremony too.
Have a picture with Totoro!
Kyoto is not an anime or manga centre, but there are a few great shops to visit. Luckly, the Ghibli (My neighbor Totoro, Kiki, Chihiro) and the Hello Kitty shop and cafe are just next to each other.
More luckly they are on one of the most beautiful streets of Kyoto.
In the Ghibli shop you can take a picture with a full-size Totoro.
The Hello Kitty cafe has a nice garden to visit and it is possible to take pictures with a big Hello Kitty too.
Have a coffee in the tatami-style Starbucks!
Starbucks created an epic story in Kyoto: they renovated an old machiya (traditional townhouse) and they kept many traditional design of the original one.
When you enter, you pass by a stone garden, and you receive your drink next to a beautiful inner garden.
On the second floor there are many small rooms, some of them with tatami flooring, it means you should get off your shoes and just sit down on the floor and enjoy your drink in a contemporary, but still traditional design.
This is the only one Starbucks in Japan with tatami flooring, so if you wish to avoid crowds, visit there in the morning or after 6pm.
Enjoy illumination at Yasaka shrine!
Usually shops, temples are closing around 5-6pm in the Gion area, so this time is great to visit Yasaka shrine. At daytime it is usually crowded, but nighttime is much more tranquil and private.
Especially because there are lot of lamps and lampions in the shrine, which are illuminated after sundown.
It can be a very unique experience and it is easy to reach many izakaya (small pubs) and bars from this area.