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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Japan > Kyoto

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Kyoto Nightlife

Kyoto's lively nightlife scene boasts a host of thirst-quenching 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 mixologists shake up fiery cocktails infused with Japanese ingredients.

Address: Bukkoji-sagaru, Gokomachi-dori, 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 selected 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,
Telephone: +81 75 213 1512
Website: http://www.sakebar-yoramu.com

Clubs in Kyoto

Butterfly

Popular with a Western crowd, Butterfly is a safe bet for a night of fun-filled frivolity. Its two floors include several bars, a VIP lounge and a crowded dance floor that whips up a frenzy with an irresistible selection of tunes ranging from R&B and hip-hop to electro and pop. A line-up of international DJs step up the party at weekends.

Address: Nakagyō-ku, 67-3 Daikokucho, Kyoto, 604 8031
Telephone: +81 75 211 5025
Website: http://www.butterfly-kyoto.com

Club Metro

One of Kyoto's most long-standing night spots, 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 enduringly popular club is set in a cavernous space that's ideal for dancing until the small 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: , B1F-B2F Imagium Bldg, 97 Shinmachi Shimogyo-ku, 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, 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 1990s, this long-standing live jazz venue attracts both international and Japanese acts. 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 75 255 7273
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 and live music 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