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  • A Kyoto Certificate 1st grader

The Shimabara District, the Former Hanamachi

Walking around in Kyoto is always interesting. You turn a corner, and you feel as if you have time-traveled to the old times of Japan.

The Shimabara (島原) district is one of the place where makes you feel that way. The district was formerly a Hanamachi (花街) approved by the Tokugawa shogunate (徳川幕府) in the Edo (江戸) period, where customers were entertained with dances and singing by Tayu (太夫, the highest rank of Geiko) and Geiko (芸妓). The Wachigai-Ya (輪違屋, not open to thepublic. Still running the business as a tea house) was the one of Okiya (置屋, lodging house for Maiko and Geiko), at which many Tayu and Geiko had worked for. The Sumi-ya (角屋) was the one of Ageya (揚屋), at which Tayu and Geiko party were held every night. In addition, these places also played a role of venue for cultural exchanges such as Japanese poem gatherings or tea ceremonies. It is said that even the famous Shinsengumi (新撰組) Samuri (侍) visited there very often. The the scenery there is still very picturesque, reminding us of the golden days of the Shimabara. It's nice to spend some quiet time here... Akane Kibune


8 mins on foot from Tanbaguchi station, JR Sagano line



Wachigai ya




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