Pontocho connects perpendicularly Sanjo and Shijo avenues, running parallel to Kamo river thus creating a long and narrow 500 meters corridor, a well-renowned Kagai (花街) in Kyoto.
In this location small tea stalls started to appear early in the 18th century （1712）,targeting commuters who would travel by boat inside Takasegawa river, on those stalls, tea hostesses would entertain and attend the helmsmen and boat passengers.
A century later （1859年）when the geisha officially received permission to exercise their art professionally, Gion and all Kagai neighborhoods became famous. Houses displaying red colored lattices called "bengara-goshi" were build on both sides of the street, within them there are up to fifty large and small alleys found between east and west.
Historically in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate regime, royal guards and revolting groups fought in these very alleys, where both sides would wait and ambush each other.
Peculiarities about the etymology of Pontocho: in Japanese the word KAWA means river but it also sounds like the word “leather”, because Pontocho is located between Kamogawa and Takasegawa River it is said this street is the drum that connects both leather making a the sound 'pon'. It is also believed it may have derivate from the Portuguese word "Ponto".
KYOTO PON-TO-CHOU NORENKAI
- 5 minutes walk from keihan sanjujo station
3 minutes walk from keihan gionsijyo station
2 minutes walk from hankyu kawaramachi station