Gion Higashi (East Gion) (祇園東)

Gion Higashi is a hanamachi ('flower town,' or geisha district), located on the east side of the north of the intersection of the Shijo-dori Street and the Hanami-koji Street, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.

It started with the opening of a tea house in front of the gate of the Yasaka-jinja Shrine in the beginning of the Edo period. Subsequently, it received official approval for the hanamachi, and the emblem featuring a dumpling cake was created. It is still used as an emblem for both Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi. At the end of the Edo period, it was said to have boasted five hundred tea houses and more than one thousand of geisha, apprentice geisha and shogi (prostitutes) in total, and flourished thanks to appreciation by many prominent figures such as literati and politicians.

In the Meiji period, Gion Higashi was separated from Gion Kobu, and became independent. Gion Higashi was temporarily named "Gion Otsubu" ('ko' and 'otsu' in Japanese are equivalent to a and b in English), but the name was changed to "Gion Higashi" after the war, which is still used to this day.

The area around Gion Higashi used to be called " (back of Zeze) due to the Zeze clan which used to reside in the area.

It is quite difficult to find successors due to the recent decrease in geisha.

The 'Gion Odori' (Gion Dance) is held every year in autumn. The school of dance belongs to Fujima School.

Major events
In Gion Higashi, the following events are held, while the Onshukai Dance Performance and parade float which used to be held are no longler held.

Shigyo-shiki (opening ceremony)
Setsubun (Bean Throwing Night)
Special Traditional Joint Performances by Five Hanamachi of Kyoto
Gion Matsuri Festival
Hassaku (an event in which geisha visit their teachers and teahouses to thank them) on August 1
Gion Odori Dance
Kaomise soken (kabuki viewing by a group of geisha in the hanamachi)
Kotohajime (an event in which geisha visit their teachers and teahouses to thank them for their support in the year and for continued support in the new year)

[Original Japanese]