Most visitors to Kyoto, Japan are here to enjoy the temples, gardens and the historic sites but you'll also find that downtown Kyoto is very appealing. It's a busy modern shopping area that features a couple of major boulevards, several large department stores and smaller pedestrian-only streets, and there’s many blocks of boutiques and restaurants, cafés and thousands of local residents filling the sidewalks.
Near the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto you'll find the most famous downtown historic neighborhood, Gion, the neighborhood of the geisha or as they say in Kyoto, the geiko. And the little side streets are where you want to venture to see the really charming part of old Kyoto.
Hanamikoji is the main side street in Gion where you're most likely to run into some geisha. Keep in mind you want to be polite and considerate when you see a geisha, or geiko as they are called in Kyoto.
The primary commercial street here is Shijo dori and it's always very busy, full of shops and pedestrians and there's a lot of cars, a lot of traffic going by. We’ll show you more of this in a few minutes, including a covered shopping mall, but it’s kind of nice to get away from the busy streets and into the side lanes.
Be sure to also walk a few blocks north along Kiyamachi to reach the charming little canal that winds its way above and below Shijo-dori.
Gion & downtown Kyoto, Japan travel video