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Pontocho Alley

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Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

1. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

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

2. 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.

Kyoto Culture and Food Tour by Day and Night

3. Kyoto Culture and Food Tour by Day and Night

See the temples, shrines and gardens of Kyoto and learn about the city's 1,200-year history and geisha traditions. Start at the 13th-century Tofukuji Temple and learn about the inspiration for its garden. Walk to the Fushimi Inari Shrine to see the red torii gates spread across the mountain.  Head to the geisha district of Gion as the sun sets and stroll past traditional teahouses from the 17th century. Soak up the atmosphere of the historic quarter and get some free time to explore on your own. Then, experience Kyoto at night in a group. Wander the lantern-lit wooden streets to the Yasaka Shrine, brought to life with its bright lights. Sample typical dishes at the street food stalls selling everything from frozen bananas to skewered squid. Cross the Kamo River to get a view of the restaurant district before entering the historic entertainment district of Pontocho. Continue to the arcade strip of Teramachi and see merchants selling Manga comics, high-quality sushi knives and more. End at a typical tachinomiya (stand-up) bar in the Nishiki food market. 

Kyoto: Izakaya Food Tour with Local Guide

4. 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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What people are saying about Pontocho Alley

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 65 reviews

Mardi was right on time on a crisp Christmas evening with a cheery demeanor and a pleasant smile, even though we both wore COVID masks. She had an exhaustive knowledge of Japanese history and culture, including local landmarks from temples to tea houses to brothels. My favorite tale was the creation of a local shrine to the tenuki spirit that dragged people into the nearby river. She also picked excellent places to grab some refreshments. The cheese and tofu soup was the highlight of the trip. I totally recommend Mardi's tour of the Gion and surrounding area if you find yourself in Kyoto.

My partner and I really enjoyed this experience, the guide was personal and provided an experience we were interested in. If he didn't know the answer to a question he would research it and get back to us. Overall we found it lovely to learn about Kyoto and have someone take control for 8 hours (no more maps or wondering where to go next). For these reasons I would recommend the tour even if you've been to Kyoto before.

Wonderful tour where you can learn about the history of Kyoto and eat your way through it in local spots!! The guide, Mardi, was fantastic, and I really enjoyed trying new food that I wouldn't have known to order. I would 100% recommend this tour!

Enjoyed the history and seeing a couple out-of-the-way neighborhoods. Mardi was an outstanding guide and provided an enjoyable evening visiting places we’d never have found on our own.

This was a great tour. Mardi had all sorts of interesting information about the area and took me to some tucked away spots I never would have found otherwise.