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One of the two main geisha districts in Kyoto (the other is Gion), Pontocho comprises a few small streets in the historic district, where as many as a hundred women may be working at one time. From what I've heard, there's quite a lot of rivalry between the two, which have a distinctly different character: while Gion prides itself on elegance, tradition and refinement, Pontocho is more flamboyant, exotic, and innovative. Thus, Gion-style dancing is taken from Noh drama, but Pontocho is the home of a flashier style taken from Kabuki. Pontocho's geisha school is also notable for admitting "non-traditional" students, including "respectable" women: graduates say that their training compares well with a degree from a good junior college. It's only par for the course that one house took in an American! (To be fair, she was already known as a hotshot on guitar and samisen....)

Personally, while Gion does have a case, for a fun night out, where would you go?

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