Gion
Activities

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Our most recommended Gion Activities

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

1. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

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Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

2. Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

Discover Kyoto like a local and see the top attractions on a 2, 4, 6, or 8-hour private walking tour. Meet your host and get insider tips on what to see and do, learn about the culture and discover hidden gems along the way. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Book your preferred tour duration at least 72 hours in advance so that the best experience can be created in advance. You will be contacted shortly after booking to chat about your needs and interests. A like-minded host will then be provided, along with a bespoke, but flexible, itinerary exclusive to you. Visit sacred sites like the shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha or Kinkajuki Temple, explore the cultural district of Gion or get off the beaten path in historic neighborhoods with the help of your guide. Stop for lunch at an authentic spot, recommended by your host to suit your taste and budget, or snack on street food as you walk. Get advice on how to spend the rest of your time in the city and more.

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Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

3. Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

Meet your guide at the Izumo no Okuni statue at Gion Shijo Station, then set off for a tasty 3-hour tour of local restaurants and street food vendors. The tour has been specially designed for you to experience the most authentic side of Kyoto and takes you to places that are normally hard to find for tourists. Throughout the night your guide is on hand to advise what you should order and how to order. Head to the first location of the night and admire Gion's picturesque streets and alleyways full of traditional Kyoto-style buildings with Machiya architecture along the way. Arrive at the restaurant and dine on a selection of meat or vegetables that have been simply but perfectly seasoned to create a pure and flavorsome eating experience. At the next stop, enjoy mouth-watering tempura skewers or traditional sushi, paired with authentic and unique matcha beverages. The final stop is a quirky standing sake bar, where you can taste a selection of sake drinks. This tour is an unforgettable opportunity to see and experience Kyoto nightlife like a real local, and visit bars and restaurants that most tourists miss.

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Kyoto: Casual Pontocho Evening Food Tour

4. Kyoto: Casual Pontocho Evening Food Tour

This casual evening tour is perfect for families and those wanting to explore these historical and delicious neighborhoods. Experience 5 food and drink stops with something for everyone. Start off in a retro Showa-era (post-war Japan) restaurant to try seasonal and regional, tasty dishes. Next, try several types of yakitori (charcoal grilled skewers) in a classic Pontocho eatery. Then, head over to a privately owned sake tasting shop to try local nihonshu (rice wine). Bring the kids, because there is even a local plum soda for a kid-friendly tasting at this quaint backstreet spot run by a passionate entrepreneur who celebrates Kyoto sake culture. Head onto a 100-year-old soba restaurant for handmade noodle dishes. You are sure to feel pretty full by this point but don’t forget to save a little room for a tasty green tea dessert at a trendy new neighboorhood spot that blends tradition with modern innovation. Have fun beyond the temples and Kyoto tourist experiences and ask your guide about the history and culture surrounding the food of Kyoto. This fun and friendly tour is the perfect way to spend your evening. There are too many great restaurant choices, and a few that are certainly too touristy, so let the tour help you make the best choices. Create delicious memories with on this unique tour. 

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Kyoto: Izakaya Food Tour with Local Guide

5. Kyoto: Izakaya Food Tour with Local Guide

Join a like-minded host to experience Kyoto's nightlife like the locals do - gathering in izakaya, the small local drinking houses, and tachinomiya, Japan's unique street-side standing bars, to enjoy a few beers, share plates of food, and sip sake with friends after work. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Spend the night bar exploring the historic Gion district, or for a truly authentic glimpse into izakaya culture, explore the city's train station bars where locals gather for drinks before catching the last train home. Once you've bar hopped your way through this tangled network of bars, perhaps head to another yokocho, the historic alleyways that are steeped in tradition and dotted all over the city, where you'll find more character than you thought could ever be squeezed into such narrow streets.

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Kyoto: Private Rickshaw Tour of Gion and Higashiyama Area

6. Kyoto: Private Rickshaw Tour of Gion and Higashiyama Area

Explore the traditional neighborhood of Higashiyama from the comfort of a rickshaw with a knowledgeable guide. Admire the well-preserved wooden townhouses, see some of Kyoto's most famous temples, and pass through the vibrant geisha district in the Gion area. Learn about Japanese culture, heritage, and customs on this private customizable tour. Meet your guide on the cobbled streets by the Kodaiji Temple in Higashiyama, a nationally designated historic area. Travel back in time as your guide pulls you through the historic neighborhood, filled with traditional buildings and shops. Stop to take photos at the most scenic spots in each location. Choose from 4 different tour durations to suit your schedule, from the introductory 45-minute tour, to the comprehensive tour of 3 hours and 10 minutes. With the longer tours, you’ll continue through the wealth of sights in Higashiyama and the northern part of Gion. Pass weeping willows that line a picturesque river, explore ancient temples, and travel through the streets of this amazing neighborhood.

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Kyoto: 2-Hour Maiko Makeover and Photo Shoot

7. Kyoto: 2-Hour Maiko Makeover and Photo Shoot

On this special 2-hour activity, learn about the life and art of the maiko, or apprentice geiko. Maiko are female performing artists who wear traditional makeup, hairstyles and costumes. They work in the Gion area and perform various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games. The maiko are apprentices and are between 15 and 20 years old. You don’t have to be in this age range to participate in the Yumeyakata Maiko Makeover project, however! The professional staff will apply your makeup, use a wig, and dress you extravagantly to look like the real thing. They'll also show you the proper maiko poses for beautiful pictures.  The package includes studio photography, so you’ll have souvenir photos to show your family and friends.

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Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

8. Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

Explore Gion, the centuries-old entertainment district of Kyoto, which truly comes alive at night. With your guide, learn about the customs of the geisha and the apprentice maiko. You may catch a glimpse of a few of the women in full costume.  Walk through the narrow streets with the lanterns flickering on the wooden buildings. Enjoy a night visit to a Shinto shrine, with a beautifully lit pagoda. Wander through the grounds of a Zen temple in the tranquil calm of the night. Learn more about the modern history of the entertainment district from your guide.

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Kyoto: Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour

9. Kyoto: Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour

The district of Higashiyama is full of Kyoto must-see locations. Higashiyama means East Mountain, and this tour takes place at the foothills of the mountain range that forms the Eastern border of central Kyoto.  Start off your tour at the Fushimi Inari Taisha, a Shinto shrine located in the Southern part of the Higashiyama mountain range. Pass through the mystical vermilion torii gates that snake up the mountainside. Beyond the gates, you find the Fushimi Inari Taisha which is about Shinto history and culture.  Take a short train ride from Fushimi Inari to Gion and listen to the stories your guide has to share about this colorful, much-storied playground of the geisha and beyond. Gion is a special place as it continues to be an active part of modern-day culture. This district is also known for its evening entertainment.  Stroll through the streets of Higashiyama and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Visit the Kodaiji temple and immerse yourself in the serenity of its gardens and bamboo grove. The temple complex dates back to the early 17th-century.  Take some snacks or souvenirs in the streets along Sannenzaka and walk you way up to Kiyomizu Temple. Once arrived you can enjoy a spectacular view of Kyoto. The temple is famous for its clear, pure water flowing from the mountains into the Otowa Waterfall. Take the opportunity to sample some of the pure water yourself. It is said that the 3 divided streams bring health, wealth, or happiness. Choose wisely as for greedy people none of the wishes will come true.  The tour ends at Kiyomizudera, where you are free to spend more time and discover the area at your own pace.

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Kyoto: Kiyomizu Dera & Gion District Photography Tour

10. Kyoto: Kiyomizu Dera & Gion District Photography Tour

Meet your photographer/guide at the Yasaka Shrine and begin the tour by exploring the Kiyomizu Dera district. Have your photo professionally taken at some of the most photogenic locations in the district. Stop by some local temples and visit a beautiful five-storied pagoda. Pose by some beautiful traditional Japanese architecture and capture the essence of medieval Japan. Next, walk through the Gion distinct known for its geishas and vibrant entertainment. Discover the many charming alleyways and lanes of this famous district. Ladies on the tour can wear a traditional kimono and pose for photos which will be a memorable memento of your visit to Kyoto.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Gion

Want to discover all there is to do in Gion? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Gion

As a man, this was such a fun experience. When I checked in, I think the (male) receptionist was a bit shocked to see it was only me, but he handled it with care and I didn't feel embarrassed at all. The photoshoot itself only lasted about 10 minutes, but they do offer to take some personal pictures with your cell phone. (So you don't only get the professionally shot photos advertised!) They also have an option to go to a private shoot in a home, but the cost was like $400 or something. Something to consider if you really want to have an extra special experience.

She conveyed the mystery and enchantment of Gion. She was well prepared and was excited to point out special sightings on our way. Familiar with the history of the culture and made a rainy night enjoyable.

The guide was extremely well versed in Japanese culture as well as sights and attractions. Japanese and English was fluent. 10 out of 10 would recommend this tour guide specifically Taibi.

Great tour guide! Niall was professional and very helpful with providing a pleasant tour.

Mie was knowledgeable and engaging. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour.