Gion is Kyoto’s most famous and traditional entertainment district. Its streets are filled with quaint wooden buildings, which house a great variety of restaurants, teahouses, and bars. It is also a geisha quarter, and it is not unusual to see these ladies hurrying to their appointments in the early evening. To get to Gion from Kyoto Station you can go directly by bus or by taxi. It is also possible to go by train, but you will have to make a transfer on the way.
Taking a bus to Gion from Kyoto Station is really easy. At the bus terminal in front of Kyoto Station’s north exit you can catch Kyoto City Bus service 100 from bus stop D1, or Kyoto City Bus service 206 from bus stop D2.
Both of these buses are very regular and make several departures each hour from Kyoto Station. The travel time is about 20 minutes for a flat fare of 230 yen. Buses are boarded at the rear, and you pay at the front when you get off. The Gion bus stop is just across from Yasaka Jinja Shrine which is one of Gion’s best known sights. For more information about bus services, please see our article: Taking a Bus in Kyoto.
A taxi from Kyoto Station to the Gion district will cost between 970 yen and 1,200 yen depending on traffic. It will take about 10 minutes if the traffic isn’t too busy. You can get a taxi easily from the taxi ramp in front of Kyoto Station’s north exit.
There is also an area here for “foreign friendly” taxis where taxi drivers who speak English will stop for overseas tourists. Because Gion is quite a big area, you may want to give the driver a specific location in Gion like Yasaka Jinja Shrine, or Hanami-koji Street. For more information, please see our article: Kyoto Taxis.
By Train or Subway
There are no direct train routes to Gion by train. The closest stations to Gion are Gion-Shijo Station on the private Keihan Main Line and Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station on the private Hankyu Kyoto Line. To get to Gion-Shijo Station from Kyoto Station, take a JR Nara Line train one stop to Tofukuji Station and then transfer to the Keihan Line. The combined fare for two tickets is 290 yen and it should take between 10 to 15 minutes to make the whole journey, depending on when you travel.
To get to Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station take the Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Subway Station to Shijo Subway Station and then transfer to the Hankyu Kyoto Line at Hankyu Karasuma Station. The combined fare for two tickets is 360 yen and the journey should take around 10 minutes.
If you are traveling from other areas in Kyoto, you might use the Tozai Subway Line to get to Gion. This subway line runs east to west through central Kyoto and the closest station to the Gion area is Sanjo Keihan Station. From this station it is a five minute walk to Shinbashi Dori Street, one of the most scenic areas in Gion.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.