Night at Gion Kyoto is a unique silence. Its aura is mysterious, as if it saves numerous stories between machiya, tea houses (ochaya), restaurants and bars that are always ‘closed’. Inside those houses built out of woods made accordingly to Japan’s traditional architecture style, the Geikos (Kyoto’s local residents referring to Geisha) where Maiko would serve and entertain guests. Yes, Gion is famous as the Geisha district in Kyoto. The atmosphere here is one of a kind and to me, the air energy in Gion at night feels really rich.
The silence would break at times by the taxis going through the streets of Gion made out of stone material. The sounds made is different compared to asphalt based streets. These taxis usually carries guests which often are highly paid workers, also board directors (according to stories told by my friends in Japan) due to the exclusive and high ranged price of the restaurants and tea houses. Often times the guests still wears their work coat.
Every now and then a geiko or maiko walks around the streets of Gion still with complete white makeup look, which is their signature that brings out their strong aura. The geiko and maiko wears geta, a footwear made out of wood which causes its own noise as they walk gracefully under their beautiful kimono. They look very well trained, as if they are always ready to serve the best for the guests.
Inside the quiet houses, night entertainment is served. Usually includes sake and food servings, conversations, games, traditional Japanese music, and performances of the geiko and maiko, often times by singing or dancing. Sometimes, if the guests laugh loud enough, the sound would partly seep through the house walls. Just the noise. What happens inside cannot be seen outside. The door would only be opened when the guests arrive or leaves, guided by the house owner whilst thanking and parting by . “Itsumo rigatou gozaimasu, okii ni!” ss how their goodbye sound. After that, those houses in Gion fell once again inside their own private world.