Image copyrights belong to authors
Why Pontocho is special ?
Pontocho is an old entertainment district in Kyoto packed with traditional restaurants, bars and a few of city's elusive Geisha tea houses.
It is one of Japan's oldest surviving nightlife areas and it's hard to tell if it is caught in the 1980s, 1960s or 1640s. The Pontocho district is centered around a narrow alley that stretches the length of about 6 city blocks.
It's a good place for a stroll, particularly in early evening as the night begins and excited crowds hurry off to there destinations, its one of the areas of Kyoto where you might see Geisha rushing off to a tea house or performance.
Pontocho has many fine eateries featuring mostly Kyoto cuisine. Many restaurants on the east side of the alley have a view of the Kamogawa River with some offering an elevated dinning platform over the river known as kawayuka. These are popular and some require formal attire in the evenings.
What to explore at Pontocho?
Pontocho Alley, which runs parallel to the west bank of the Kamo-gawa River between Sanjo and Shijo is considered by many Kyoto residents and visitors to be the most beautiful street in the city. It’s lined with traditional shops and restaurants, and no cars, modern buildings or gaudy signs are allowed. By day, it’s not much to look at. But in the evening, Pontocho becomes a magical place – the sort of street you might have imagined before arriving in Asia. Many of the restaurants and clubs here are pretty forbidding for foreigners without the right connections, but there are a number of places that welcome foreigners and have English-language menus and English-speaking staff. If you spend some time waiting at the southern end of the lane around dusk on a Friday or Saturday evening, you’ve got a good chance of spotting a maiko (apprentice geisha) or geiko (fully-fledged geisha) scurrying to an appointment at one of Pontocho’s elite clubs
How to get to Pontocho?
The closest bus stop to Pontocho is Shijo Kawaramachi, which is served by numerous bus lines, including lines 17 and 205 from Kyoto Station. The closest train stations are Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line and Shijo Station on the Keihan Line.
Pontocho Alley, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan