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Kyoto Nightlife

Kyoto’s lively nightlife scene boasts a host of vibrant bars and traditional sake breweries, along with exclusive clubs and edgy music venues. The best after-dark action plays out along Kiyamachi, a one-kilometre strip running parallel to the Kamo River that’s crammed with cheap drinking holes and Westerner-friendly hangouts. A more exclusive ambience pervades the alleyway of Pontocho, one block away, where atmospheric wooden-block buildings are studded with sleek cocktail bars, lively cabarets and late-night eateries. The old geisha district of Gion is the place to find more traditional music haunts as well as Kimono-clad and classical performances.

Be aware that upmarket dance clubs can often observe a strict guestlist-only entry policy and charge seating fees to those they do allow over the threshold.

Bars in Kyoto

Atlantis

This sophisticated bar in Pontocho is ideal for Kyoto's long hot summers, thanks to its expansive outdoor platform that overlooks the Kamo River. Those lucky enough to nab a seat will rub shoulders with the city's young and beautiful, who gather to loosen their ties and let off steam over post-work cocktails.

Address: Shijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, 161 Matsumoto-cho, Pontocho, Kyoto, 604 8013
Telephone: +81 75 241 1621
Website: http://www.atlantis-net.co.jp

Bar Rocking Chair

Tucked away down a discreet backstreet, this sought-after cocktail bar occupies a 90-year-old machiya townhouse. Its chandelier-lit interiors are rich in atmosphere, with rocking chairs huddled around a roaring wood-burning fire. Behind a wooden bar, a team of excellent award-winning mixologists shake up fiery cocktails infused with Japanese ingredients.

Address: Gokomachi-dori, Bukkoji-sagaru, 434-2 Tachibana-cho, Kyoto, 600 8044
Telephone: +81 75 496 8679
Website: http://www.bar-rockingchair.jp

Sake Bar Yoramu

For a true education in sake, Japan’s heady rice wine, take a seat along the counter of this tiny tucked-away bar. It certainly packs a punch with its impressive selection of sake bottles spanning fruity and floral, newly produced and dust-collecting vintage. The expert owner has personally curated his stock and is on hand to advise which brew to sample next.

Address: Karasuma Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Nijo Dori (east of Karasuma), Kyoto, 604 0831
Telephone: +81 75 213 1512
Website: http://www.sakebar-yoramu.com

Clubs in Kyoto

Club Metro

One of Kyoto’s most long-standing, trendsetting nightspots, Club Metro draws creative types to its intimate underground music rooms found at the Jingu-Marutamachi metro station. Music aficionados can find their groove amid its eclectic music mix and schedule of international and local DJs. The venue also hosts the occasional film screening and visual arts performance.

Address: Sakyō-ku, BF Ebisu Building, 82 Simodutsumi-cho, Kyoto, 606 8396
Telephone: +81 75 752 4765
Website: http://www.metro.ne.jp

World Kyoto

This forever popular club is set in a cavernous space that’s ideal for dancing until the late hours. As its name suggests, World attracts big names from across the globe but also makes time for traditional geisha events and local acts. If you've come to Japan to party, this is definitely the place to be seen.

Address: Shimogyo-ku, 97 Shincho, Kyoto, 600 8001
Telephone: +81 75 213 4119
Website: http://www.world-kyoto.com

Live music in Kyoto

Kyoto Concert Hall

Kyoto’s principal venue for classical music and the home of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra occupies a futuristic new-build with thick concrete ceilings and light timber floors that create fantastic acoustics. The venue contains two halls, the larger playing host to the city’s most prestigious concerts with its shoebox styled auditorium, while the smaller is well-suited to chamber music.

Address: Sakyō-ku, 1-26 Hangi-cho Shimogamo, Kyoto, 606 0823
Telephone: +81 75 711 2980
Website: http://www.kyoto-ongeibun.jp/kyotoconcerthall_e

Live Spot Rag

Established in the late 1980s, this long-standing live jazz venue attracts both international and Japanese acts of various genres. Its small, intimate interiors fill up fast so be sure to snag a ticket early to avoid disappointment. Live sessions of acoustic, fusion, jazz and rock usually kick off earlier in the evening before winding down to mellow drinks later on.

Address: Nakagyo-ku, 5/F Kyoto Empire Building, Kiya-machi, Sanjo-ku, Kyoto, 604 8001
Telephone: +81 75 2241 0446
Website: http://www.ragnet.co.jp

UrBANGUILD

For an authentic Japanese evening, join the city’s arty crowd at this avant-garde venue that offers long wooden bench seating, traditional izakaya food, live music and acts that pushes the boundaries of experimentation. Each act brings something new and often obscure, from improvisation to Latin groove, but can always count on the applause of an appreciative audience.

Address: Nakagyo-ku, 3/F New-Kyoto Building, 181-2 Zaimoku-cho, Kyoto, 604 8002
Telephone: +81 75 212 1125
Website: http://www.urbanguild.net

Classical music in Kyoto

Dance in Kyoto

Theatres in Kyoto

Music and Dance in Kyoto

Culture in Kyoto

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Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

A seven-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station, these ryokan-style capsules offer traditional tatami beds inside compact rooms to create something both unique and quintessentially Japanese. Space is cleverly used in the private rooms, which have air-conditioning, televisions and en-suite shower facilities, while free Wi-Fi and refreshments are available in a communal lounge area.

Iori Kyoto Townhouse Stays

A machiya (a traditional merchant townhouse) is an excellent hotel alternative, especially for group rental. Try one of the eleven Iori residences found dotted across central Kyoto, each one luxuriously restored and decked in Asian art. Varying in size, the houses combine traditional architecture, such as beam-work and tokonoma alcoves, with modern conveniences, to give a taste of traditional Japanese living in lavish style.

Nishiyama Ryokan

Adding a modern twist to the traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), Nishiyama offers affordability, comfort and welcoming staff. The Japanese and Western-style rooms are spacious and relaxing and there are shared baths (separate men and women), a dining room and a comfortable lounge with laptop ports. The ryokan is conveniently located downtown close to shopping, sightseeing and nightlife.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

A leader for luxury in Kyoto, the Hyatt Regency is superbly located next to the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple, with the Kyoto National Museum across the road and the Gion district within walking distance. The 178 rooms and suites are tastefully decorated with natural tones and traditional Kyoto fabrics. There are various in-house restaurants and bars, a Japanese garden, a relaxing spa and yoga studio.

Hiiragiya Ryokan

The Hiiragiya is one of the most exclusive ryokans in Kyoto. Since the mid-19th century it has hosted the rich and famous in its exquisitely decorated rooms. There are two wings – the oldest is full of traditional aesthetic charm and the more modern (completed in 2006) is a compliment of modern Japanese design. The service is impeccable and truly an experience in itself.

Shunkoin Temple Guest House

For a sacred night's sleep, Shunkion is located within the Myoshin-ji temple complex in the northwest of the city. Its eight simple and serene rooms are decked out with tatami mats and offer shared kitchen facilities; some have en suite bathrooms. The real draw is that guests can enjoy morning meditation classes and strolls in the temple by night. There's also free bicycle rental on offer.