Japan Kyoto Gion


Along the Shirakawa River in Historic Gion

Photo of Shirakawa, Japan (P9162527 by 吉爾)

Shirakawa, situated in Kyoto’s historic Gion district, is famous for its traditional Japanese aesthetic. The Shirakawa River, with its white sands and gravel, flows through this area, bordered by ochaya (tea houses) and willow trees, reflecting the enduring charm of old Kyoto. Cobblestone paths invite visitors to explore a living representation of Japan’s cultural heritage.

About Shirakawa

The Shirakawa area offers a peaceful retreat from the lively streets of central Gion. With its gentle river and historic machiya (townhouses) and ochaya, Shirakawa is a window into the elegant lifestyle of earlier times. The Shirakawa-suna, a specific gravel once sourced from the river, has played a role in the region’s aesthetic, being featured in the rock gardens throughout Kyoto.

Shirakawa-suna’s ability to maintain raked patterns made it a prized material for rock gardens, contributing to the cultural legacy of the area. However, since the late 1950s, the collection of this natural resource has been restricted, and contemporary rock gardens often use an alternative quarried granite.

In the evening, Shirakawa becomes lively with the lights of inns and restaurants reflecting on the water. The adjacent Shimbashi Geisha District is particularly captivating during cherry blossom season when the flowers are lit up, attracting visitors globally.

An evening wander through Shimbashi Geisha District reveals the district’s beauty through seasonal changes. The historic role of Shirakawa-suna in the landscape design of Kyoto is subtly present in these surroundings. Next to Shirakawa, the main avenues of Gion contrast with their more vibrant atmosphere. Yet, for those looking for quality dining at a more accessible price, the areas on the outskirts of Shirakawa towards Gion provide excellent options. Shirakawa remains a vital part of Kyoto’s history and cultural tapestry.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Shirakawa

KH 39

 Keihan Main Line

 about 5 minute walk (400m)
T 11

Sanjō Keihan
 Kyoto Tozai Line

 5-10 minute walk (600m)
HK 86

Hankyu Kyoto-kawaramachi
 Hankyu Kyoto Main Line + 1 more

 5-10 minute walk (700m)

Around Shirakawa


Eating District in Kyoto


白川, 京都

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Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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