Kyoto Area Guide: Shirakawa Dori 白川
Unlike much of modern Kyoto, which is full of clutter in the form of telephone poles and overhead wires, Shirakawa Dori ("white river street") is free of the wires. This affords a lovely view of the buildings and makes strolling a pleasure.
Much of the rest of the city reminds one of the early part of the 20th century in the United States, when competing telephone companies strung wires from tenements to poles. Not Shirakawa.
On both sides of the street, there are beautiful wooden restaurants and inns.
Shirakawa street is also lined with willow trees, which are allowed to grow out. This too is unusual. In Kyoto, trees unlucky to be planted along streets are brutally pruned back to the nub twice a year.
Here however the willows hang gracefully over the river and cobblestones.
Most of the buildings have been preserved, giving a timeless feel to the area.
Shirakawa Dori area is also popular among couples of all ages as it is quite romantic day or night.
Directions To Shirakawa Dori
From the Shijo-Kawabata intersection (where the Minami-za theater is located), walk east one block to Nawate Street. Turn left and walk straight for 5 minutes. This is a rather tacky--if typical--street in Gion, but there are a few interesting shops on the way to Shirakawa. On your right. Look for the river.
On the Keihan Railways Kyoto line, get off at Sanjo or Shijo Station. For Shijo, use the directions above. Walk east on Shijo Dori away from the Kamo River.
From Sanjo Station, walk south along Kawabata Dori, the large street that runs parallel to the Kamo River, on the Gion side (not the river side). There is a small shopping mall with restaurants here. When you come to a series of bus stops, cross the street and head on to Nawate Dori. Walk about five minutes. On your left.
Accommodation in Gion
Gion is one of the most popular places in Kyoto to stay on any vacation to the ancient capital of Japan. Some of the accommodation options on offer in Gion are traditional Japanese guest houses, ryokan or minshuku, a few of them converted machiya (Edo Period wooden merchant houses). They offer a traditional Japanese stay, that is sleeping in futon mattresses on tatami (woven straw) floors and sharing a hot tub. (Note: Guests remove their shoes before entering).
Recently to cater to modern, Western tastes many of the guest houses have become holiday homes or apartments: Japanese in spirit, decor and interior furnishings but Western in usage with beds, Wifi and attached showers.
Some recommended places to stay in Gion include Hana-Touro Hotel Gion, with Japanese-style restaurant, concierge desk, plus kimono and bicycle hire, Hotel The Celestine Kyoto Gion, which features an on-site restaurant, Tempura Endo Yasaka, serving Japanese cuisine including tempura and sushi, Iori Machiya Stay, offering machiya accommodation in various locations in Kyoto and Yuzuya Ryokan, a luxurious 5-star traditional inn with antique furnishings and seasonal ikebana arrangements. All rooms include tatami floors and traditional futon bedding.
See a full listing of accommodation in Kyoto's Gion district.
Museums in Kyoto
For a full listing of Kyoto Museums & Art Galleries click here