top of page


Kyoto, Japan

Gion Darknight

The site and its history 

This architecture is built in Gion, Kyoto. The building is now located in a street which is slightly deserted now. Geisha and maiko live here in Gion. It is now called a flower street, but in Edo period it was called a red-light district. At the beginning it was not a district of prostitution, but a place where traveling entertainers, men and women, gathered. One secluded corner in this area was called red-light district.  People living there perform singing, dancing, acting and some other performing arts. It is said to be the origin of a traditional performing art called Kabuki.  A Female entertainer was called geiko or taifu.  


It is both a shot bar and karaoke bar for membership only, not a gathering place for everybody. There are elements like a gate, a garden, ground, a hole, stairs, an underground passage, a tower, a room, filling this small space with a hidden world.

Men and women in a bar meet there, inviting each other and come together. They sing a song in the back room.  They go to the bar when tired of singing songs.  
Curved slits are cut on the roof and all over the wall surface. 


1. A narrow stripe of land of W 5.59×D 21.72 meters is fully surround by the walls with the height of 6.3 meters. Two pieces of walls stand staggered along the street.  Through a gap made between these walls, we enter inside the building. It forms a gate. 


2. There is a garden covered with gravel by  W 4.08×D 11.90 meters. This garden is a bar. It reminds us a garden of a Zen temple. 


3. There is a hole in the graveled garden.  There are stairs. Going down the underground passage through this stairway.  Then go to the tower situated in the back.  


4. The tower in the back has 3 stories. Three rooms are provided on each floor. Three Karaoke rooms with W 4.58 ×D 4.00 meters are stacked on the 1st , 2nd and underground floor. It is difficult to see them from the garden. 

Curved slit 

The form of the slit is the figure of a dancing woman bending her body.  The mysteriousness resembles something invisible which lives in darkness and in the clouds. 

One Night Stand 

“With my own body, I talk and sing at this “place.” 

Drift ashore.  Finally found one’s way. At last arrived here.  It is a relief to know that you are not perishing, but still alive. Drink sake without any notion of perishing.

Facing refugees of daily life, we blur the line between art and living. The architecture built at this place is an ambiguous culmination.  Trying to find one’s own place in a one night stand, where the shadow of the town creeps from the depth of the night full of sex. What a difficult and dark existence I am.



Gion Darknight

Architect: Eastern Design Office

Location: Kyoto, Japan

Year: 2006

Site area: 119.47m2

Total floor area: 194.77m2

bottom of page