A hanamachi (花街) is a Japanese courtesan and geisha district. The word's literal meaning is "flower street". Such districts would contain various okiya (geisha houses). Nowadays, the term hanamachi is commonly used in modern Japan to refer to the areas where modern-day geisha are still operating. In Kyoto's Gion district, however, the older term kagai [1] is still in use. Alternatively, kagai can be used to refer to licensed red-light districts, which contained restaurants, okiya, and ochaya (tea houses where geisha would entertain customers).

Hanamachi typically contained a number of okiya and ochaya, along with a kaburenjo; the kabunrenjo was a meeting place for geisha, usually with a theatre, rooms where geisha classes can be held, and the kenban offices, which dealt with geisha's pay, regulation and similar matters. Gion also has a vocational school, called Nyokoba. Many of the teachers there are designated as Living National Treasures. Today, hanamachi are rare outside of Kyoto.


Kyoto hanamachi

Tokyo hanamachi

Hanamachi near Tokyo

Areas historically renowned as hanamachi/kagai

Yoshiwara was the Tokyo courtesans' district and is sometimes referred to as a hanamachi.

Hanamachi in Osaka

Hanamachi in Kanazawa


  1. 花街, an alternate pronunciation of the same kanji.

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ca:Hanamachiru:Ханамати simple:Hanamachi

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