Ponto-cho is an old red-light district lying between the Kamogawa River and Kiyamachi Street in the center of Kyoto. It is actually a street that stretches 500 m from south to north. It became known as a red-light district in the early Edo Period (1603-1868) when the embankment along the Kamogawa River was being built. Nowadays, on both sides of the street there are traditional restaurants as well as drinking establishments. It is popular not only among tourists but also among locals who often dine and hold parties there. It still functions as one of Kyoto’s red-light districts, so you can sometimes see geishas walking around. Kamogawa Odori is performed at Kaburenjo Theatre, and the performance is held every year in May. The Ponto-cho dance show is divided into two parts: the first part is a dance show and the second part is a performance by geishas. This is a trademark of Ponto-cho.
Ponto-cho: The origin of the name
Although there seem to be several theories that exist about this topic, the name Ponto-cho is said to have been derived from the English word "point" or more likely the Portuguese word "ponte" (bridge) or "ponto" (also meaning point), and the Japanese word "cho" meaning town, block or street. Another legend says that "ponto" is the sound that the Japanese drum (taiko) makes.
Although it is near Shijo-Kawaramachi, which is Kyoto's most animated area, you can still feel the traditional atmosphere in this street. With this unforgettable name, it is a street that every tourist should visit.
This is a street where you can feel the atmosphere of Kyoto, even if you don’t visit during the Kamogawa Odori season. You can visit traditional shops and restaurants, or walk around the historic quarters. If you are lucky, you may even meet a geisha.
2 minutes from Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Railway or 5 minutes form Shijo Station on the Keihan Railway.
Image Gallery: Ponto-cho
Nabeyacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
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