Gion Adventure Tours
Gion is a district of Kyoto, Japan, originally developed in the middle ages, in front of Yasaka Shrine. Geisha in the Gion district do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, Gion geisha use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means “artist,” the more direct term geiko means specifically “a woman of art.” This part of Kyoto has two hanamachis : Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi. Despite the considerable decline in the number of geisha in Gion in the last one hundred years, it is still famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Part of this district has been declared a national historical preservation district.
There is a popular misconception that Gion was a red-light district. However, as it was a geisha district, and as geisha are entertainers, not prostitutes, Gion is not, and never was, a red-light district. Shimabara was Kyoto’s red-light district.
The geiko of Gion still maintain the annual dances, the most popular being the Miyako Odori, “Cherry blossom Dances” or “Dances of the Old Capital,” staged by the geisha of Gion Kobu. The dances run from April 1 through April 30 each year during the height of the cherry blossom (sakura) season. Spectators from Japan and worldwide attend the events, which range from “cheap” seats on tatami mats on the floor (approximately $15.00 U.S.), to reserved seats with a small tea ceremony beforehand (approximately $40.00 U.S.).