Gion Kawaramachi

If you want a chance to glimpse a maiko (apprentice geisha), Gion is where to go. The area is lined with traditional wooden merchant houses, tea houses, and shops. The best time to glimpse a maiko is closer to the evening on their way to entertain, but these days tourists also walk the streets in maiko costume at any time of day. If you’re out to buy some traditional crafts and souvenirs, cross the Kamo River to Kawaramachi, Kyoto’s largest downtown area. If you’re here in July, catch the massive Gion Matsuri, one of the biggest, liveliest festivals in Kyoto.