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白川南通 (祇園白川) Gion Shirakawa Street

  • Walk around (Old cities)
  • Gion / Kiyomizu-dera Temple Area
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  • ClosedOpen every day

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Maps are rarely carried out with accessing from mainland China.

District
Gion / Kiyomizu-dera Temple Area
Address
Giommachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 605-0074, Japan
Category
  • Walk around (Old cities)
Opening Hours
24hours
Closed
Open every day
Website
http://www.gion-nawate.com/sakura/
Date of post:2015/04/23

Time-honored street with a neat stream

  • City Walking
  • Special Recommendations

Shinbashi is located in the northern part of Gion.

Traditionally reserved wooden houses called Kyo-machiya are lined on both side of the street. Upper windows are covered with hanging reed screens and lower windows are also placed lattice shutters to avoid being watched from outside.

The clean stream named Shirakawa (white river) is flowing one side of the street peacefully into the Kamo River. Neatly planted cherry and willow trees are adding indescribable atmosphere. Shinbashi is a calm old town in the middle of the big busy city.

After Tokugawa family came into a power, the number of people visiting famous shrines and temples increased. To serve refreshment to visitors, “Ocha-ya” rest houses were constructed in front of them. In due course, women worked at these “Ocha-ya” began to dance and play the shamisen to entertain customers. They were forerunners of today’s Maiko and Geiko. Maiko are apprentice Geiko, and Geisya is particularly called Geiko in Kyoto. Gion is the entertainment district developed in front of Gion Shrine (which is called Yasaka Shrine today) where Maiko and Geiko work as well as lead their daily life.

At the eastern end of the street, close to the bridge, there is a small shrine named Tatsumi-dai-myojin. Sometimes Maiko and Geiko are seen to pray for prosperity in business and proficiency in their performances in front of the shrine. Standing on a bridge or walking on the paved street, I feel the atmosphere of Kyoto as it was a few hundred years ago.

In the old times, only wealthy and influential people were allowed to have a dinner in Ocha-ya in Kagai with Geiko and Maiko. “Ichigen-san okotowari” mean no visitors without invitation by patrons of each Ocha-ya or Geiko and Maiko are welcome.

But now ochaya-asobi, or have an experience of a dinner with Maiko and Geiko became accessible at selected ryokans, hotels and restaurants. This dinner consists of a combination of foods, song, dance and games. How lucky we are! But remind you, this is only once in a lifetime event.

*Reference: Trad Japan(NHK text)
Japanese Identities by Yuichiro Edagawa

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