The best place to see geisha in Kyoto is Hanami-koji on the south side of Shijo-dori. A stroll through in the evening will usually yield at least one sighting.
Gion district by night: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com
In recent years “geisha spotting” has become all too popular in Kyoto and we can sympathize with locals who don’t take kindly to groups of foreigners milling around outside their establishment and hassling geisha who are in a hurry to get to appointments.
A few rowdier sorts have even gone as far as grabbing geisha by their kimono to stop them for pictures, and even putting their arms around their shoulders, as though they were posing with old friends. Needless to say, this gives all foreigners a bad name.
We recommend a much more subtle approach: grab your camera and merely take a slow stroll along Hanami-koji from Shijo-dori to Kennin-ji Temple. You’ll most likely be rewarded with one or two sightings. And if you really want experience the world of Kyoto’s geisha, it’s better to do it the right way: by arranging for an evening of geisha entertainment, which my tour company Chris Rowthorn Tours can easily do for you.
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
- Open the Kyoto map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Near To Here:
Hanamikoji Geisha District is located in Kyoto’s Southern Higashiyama district. See our complete list of things to do in Southern Higashiyama, including places to eat, nightlife and places to stay.
Kyoto Walking Tour: Gion Evening Walk
Discover the world of the geisha in this atmospheric evening walk in Gion, the “Floating World” of Kyoto.
(Two hours duration. Price: 20,000 Yen)
More Details About The Tour
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world