What an amazing treat! Gion Corner is a sampling of the different arts Japan’s rich culture has to offer and is an absolute must if you’re in Kyoto. We heard about it on our Free Walking Tour Guide in Kyoto (do that too). It costs around 28 USD per person and is well worth it. The program is as follows:
- Tea Ceremony (Chado)
- Japanese Harp Performance (Koto)
- Flower Arrangement Presentation (Kado)
- Court Music (Gagaku)
- Ancient Comic Play (Kyogen)
- A Maiko’s Kyoto Style Dance (Kyomai)
- Puppet Show (Bunraku)
I can’t recommend it enough, not just for the entertainment but for the education. We
learned there are less than 300 Geisha’s left in Japan (most of which reside in Kyoto). Maiko are Geisha’s in training, and Geiko are the pros. Maiko’s lead grueling lives during their lives in the dorms of Gion, Kyoto. They have such damaging hair styles that they sleep on their arms in order to prevent messing them up, they can’t have cell phones, they can’t be in relationships; rough. But if they stick it out and they become a Geiko, it seems to pay off and they can make a good living (and marry and get a cell phone).
The individual shows at Gion Corner are fun, entertaining,and enriching. Don’t think twice, you won’t want to miss Gion Corner.
Quick Review of the Performances
The tea ceremony was brief. They took two members from the audience and made them tea, I’m jealous I didn’t get picked . The harp performance set the mood with beautiful, traditional music – made me want to download more of it off iTunes. The flower arrangement was quick, but impressive. She threw together a bonzai tree looking thing in a matter of minutes – it’s clear she’s been doing this her whole life. The court music placed you in old Kyoto with its strong drums and fancy costumes. The Comic Play was funny even though I didn’t understand a word they said! The acting was solid and their expressions were… well… comic! The Maiko’s dance was neat. It made me feel like I was witnessing Memoirs of the Geisha in the making! And the Finale, the puppet theatre, was closed with an inspiring ending. All the acts led to a memorable event that left us happy and satisfied.
Gion Corner Information
605-0074 Yasaka Hall, 570-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
How to get there?
Gion Corner is a 5-minute walk from the Gion-Shinza subway line in Tokyo. Get there, head into Gion, and after a few blocks you’ll see the Yasaka Hall where they hold the performances.
How to see it!
Given that we couldn’t see these individual art performances during our time in Japan, it was awesome to catch these cultural masterpieces through a curated program. The total time of the show is a little less than an hour, and they hold two performances, one at 6 pm and the other at 7 pm. SHOW UP 1 HOUR EARLY TO THE 6 PM SHOW. Otherwise you’ll end up waiting in line for the 7 pm show, if not missing it altogether.
Supposedly you can reserve tickets online, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so, and if you don’t speak or read Japanese it’s not an easy task either way. If you show up around 5, you can secure yourself a ticket for either 6 or 7 pm. The line fills up FAST.