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Getting to Know Gion
Japan's traditional and modern worlds intersect where Shijo-dori crosses Hanami-koji-dori in the district of Gion. To the south, cobblestone streets lead past wood-fronted teahouses displaying red paper lanterns, while a block northward are high-rises chock-full of bars. Eastward is Yasaka Jinja's commanding orange-and-white arched gate; westward are the city's best department stores.
Gion remains Kyoto's center for high culture, including venues offering Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku puppetry theater. Perhaps more famous to foreign visitors is the floating world of geisha entertainment, brought into the spotlight recently by the film adaptation of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. Wandering around Hanami-koji-dori at night you're sure to see maiko-san and gekko-san, the modern equivalents of apprentice and senior geisha, on their way to appointments at exclusive teahouses behind curtained doorways.
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