Evening Guided Walking Tour of the Gion District in Kyoto, Japan

This evening walking tour of the Gion District in Kyoto, Japan was definitely a unique experience in managing tour expectations

The tour, “Kyoto: Gion District Guided Walking Tour at Night with Snack” by TripGuru Japan was not my favorite tour that I’ve booked on Get Your Guide, at all. Honestly, the way I reflected on it – you can’t win them all. Sometimes, the vibe is just off. But, I’m happy that I ended up crafting an experience that best benefited our needs and respected our time.

First, it felt odd that our tour was conducted by a non native expat. It was like an interloper that knew the history – but still was an outsider. This feeling continued as he focused on the entertainment district of Gion and the geisha, the maiko and the entertainment hostesses of hostess clubs (kyabakuras and kurabus).

Our guide really wanted to focus on the amount of hostesses and how expensive it was to attend the clubs. Yet, I could tell he’d never been in them. So, the excessive focus on them vs the history of the area was exasperating.

I felt that the tour material was lacking and more focused on advertising the exclusivity of the hostess clubs and giesha establishments. Which, I simply didn’t care about. I wanted to know more about the history of Gion in general. Not that busy Japanese company men spend thousands a night on bottles and entertainment in hostess clubs – again, again and again.

Also, I knew something was off when my partner asked our guide “What about rain? Do we have an alternative path for if it rains?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got you,” our tour guide said.

Now, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about that phrase – anyone who says “I got you” doesn’t have shit or a plan.

After it actually started raining while we were around the Nishiromon Gate and close to the Yasaka Shrine, I decided it was best to end the tour. I’d walked over to where a group of people were standing under a pagoda tarp. Both my partner and I were tired, getting wet and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Apparently amused by our reaction to getting rained on, our guide asked  “Oh, you don’t like walking in the rain?”

Not with my camera and my aching ankles from walking miles in a day. No. I don’t want to walk in the rain. I want to trust that my tour guide has alternative plans for weather that may happen.

Just saying.


After I politely informed our guide that I wanted to end our tour after an hour in, he insisted that we make a stop at his favorite place for the snack portion of the tour – at Issen Yoshoku.

Begrudgingly, I and my partner went along with his insistence. Maybe, for the balls out idea that the tour would get better. I will say that at our table at Issen Yoshoku,  the real storytelling history of Japan and Kyoto FINALY came out of our guide’s mouth. It was great to listen and actually hear him speak over the delicious unique dish.

However, in short order, things became aggravating again. At the end of the meal, I pulled up Google Transit and tracked how to get back to Karasuma Oike station via the Gion-shijo Station – the same station that we’d met our guide at. However, our guide repeatedly insisted that he personally walk us to his preferred station, because he believed that the Gion-shijo Station would be too complicated for us to figure out.

Silently, I looked at this man like he was batshit and controlling. Never mind the fact that the Gion-shijo station was literally yards away and completely fine to get to. Never mind that I’d expressly said that I was tired and wanted to politely end our social contract. That was extremely clear. But, our guide wanted to finish the tour by taking us to his preferred station. Why? Because he felt that the other station would be too confusing for us.

I admit, a part of me wanted to be amused and have hope that he would redeem himself on the walk to the other station. Again, my hope was misplaced. On the way, he again focused on pointing out more hostesses and more entertainment bars.

Can’t win them all. And I need to stress that he did point out interesting facts. Like, pointing out the oldest cherry tree in Kyoto and informing us about the fact that the torii gates are all corporate advertisements. Maybe, I have a twisted sense of trying to understand why some people do the things they do. Especially, when social cues clearly state that they shouldn’t. Nevertheless, we arrived back at our hotel safely.

And really, that’s all that matters.

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Kyoto: Gion District Guided Walking Tour At Night With Snack

Gion District
Kyoto, Japan
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