1. How to Enjoy The Nightlife in Kyoto

How to Enjoy The Nightlife in Kyoto

Kyoto club

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Yuichi Nagai

Yuichi Nagai

I am Nagai Yuichi ,CEO of S-fleage a company in Kyoto. We are spreading the charms of Kyoto to the world. I hope this article is helpful for your experience in Kyoto!

Kyoto is not only famous for its abundance of beautiful temples and shrines, but also for its exquisite downtown areas that seem to have frozen in time – cherry tree-lined canals and geisha districts filled with centuries-old wooden shops.

Gorgeous during the daytime, at night they become magical. Want to know where they are?

We’ll give you all those details, as well as a selection of Kyoto’s best clubs, bars, and other unique nightlife options. Because you didn’t come all this way to spend your night in a hotel room, right?

 

Sightseeing spots in Kyoto to visit at night

The beauty of Kyoto doesn’t disappear when the sun goes, so visit some of these places – both old and new – and carry on sightseeing into the night.

Gion and Pontocho

kyoto pontocho

 

These are the two most famous areas in Kyoto for geisha spotting. In the early evening, you may see them heading off to work at the teahouses in these traditional entertainment districts. Bars and restaurants also fill the old wooden buildings here. Beautiful during the day, these neighborhoods are even more atmospheric at night under the soft light of paper lanterns.

Gion is located around Shijo Street between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. To find the most beautiful parts of Gion, turn off Shijo Street, and head south along Hanamikoji Street, or go north to the lesser-known Gion Shirakawa area.

Compared with Gion, Pontocho is much more compact. It is a long, narrow alleyway that starts at Sanjo street, just one block west of the Kamo River and runs south down to Shijo Street. During Japan’s sweaty summer, restaurants on the eastern side of Pontocho set up ‘kawayuka’ platforms over the Kamo River for some cool, alfresco dining.

If you would like to go to the restaurant in Pontocho, you should check it out:

The Best 7 Restaurants and Bars in Pontocho, Kyoto

 

Entrance Fee: Not required

Open Hours: Depends on the store, but lunch places typically open from 11:30 a.m., bars, and restaurants usually from 5 p.m.

-Pontocho Access: The south end is a five-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station or a three-minute walk from the Keihan train line’s Gion Shijo station. Since the south side adjoins the Gion district, we recommend you start exploring Pontocho from the north end. Get there via a five-minute walk from either the Tozai subway line’s Keihan Sanjo station or the Keihan train line’s Sanjo station or walk for 10 minutes from the Tozai subway line’s Kyoto City Hall station. 

Google Map

-Gion Access: The Keihan line’s Gion Shijo station is right on the western edge of Gion, or take a seven-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station. 

Google Map

Miyagawacho

Miyagawacho

 

This is another of Kyoto’s gorgeous geisha districts that are filled with traditional wooden townhouses where geisha entertain, or that have been converted into restaurants and cafes. This area prospered along with the rise of Kabuki theatre. Geisha and young maiko artisans from this district dance, sing and play traditional musical instruments at either the ‘Miyako Odori’ show, held in the first half of April or the ‘Mizue-kai,’ held in mid-October. The Miyako Odori late show starts around 4.30 p.m. and budget seats cost \2,200. The Miyagawacho district is located on the east side of the Kamo River, from Shijo Street down to Gojo Street.

 

Entrance Fee: Not required

Open Hours: Depends on the store, but lunch places typically open from around 11:30 a.m., bars, and restaurants usually from around 5:30 p.m.

Access: South of the Keihan train line’s Gion Shijo station or north of its Kiyomizu-Gojo station, or walk 10 minutes from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station. 

Google Map

Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka shrine

 

Filled with people during the day, this 1350-year old shrine takes on a very different feel at night. The main entrance, with its brilliant vermillion and green colors, looks even more vibrant lit up during the nighttime, while the sparse lighting in the worship hall creates a unique atmosphere that you will be able to savor uninterrupted. Yasaka Shrine is located at the east end of Gion, where Shijo Street meets Higashi-oji Street

 

Entrance Fee: Not required

Open Hours: 24 hours

Access: A five-minute walk from the Keihan train line’s Gion Shijo station, or an eight-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station. Close to the Gion stop of the Kyoto City bus. 

Google Map

Kyoto Station

kyoto station at night

 

This modern station complex boasts shops, restaurants, a hotel, and even a theatre. It also has four great spots to take in the nighttime view. See some spectacular city scenery from the rooftop Sky Garden and from the ‘Muromachi-koji Hiroba’ and ‘Karasuma-koji Hiroba’ plazas on the fourth floor, too. Although it can be hard to find, don’t miss the 45-meter high Skyway tunnel, accessible via the seventh floor East Garden or the restaurant area on the 11th floor of the building’s west wing. Kyoto Station is located at the south end of the central north-south running Karasuma Street.

 

Entrance Fee: None

Open Hours: until 10 p.m. daily

Access: Karasuma subway line, Kintetsu line, JR West and JR Central Lines (including bullet train) 

Google Map

Kyoto’s Best Clubs

club

 

With one of the highest concentrations of university students in the country, Kyoto is packed with young people looking to have a good time. Meet some of them at these dance clubs, and be sure to bring your photo I.D.

Club World Kyoto

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This two-story club is the biggest in Kyoto and one of its more spacious. It hosts many events and famous artists and DJs across a broad variety of styles from hip hop to house. A popular place, World has a reputation for a friendly atmosphere.

 

Entrance Fee: Foreign visitors free Sunday-Thursday. Otherwise, \2,000 for women and \3,000 for men, including one free drink. May cost extra when special artists play.

Open Hours: 8 p.m. – late

Access: A 1-minute walk from the 1A exit of the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station, or a 2-minute walk from exit 4 of the Keihan train line’s Gion-Shijo station. 

Google Map

Club Metro Kyoto

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This is Kyoto’s oldest dance club and its most eclectic. Metro hosts more live music events than dance nights, and it also holds various cultural events, such art and video shows. Creative types congregate hear to enjoy a wide variety of music, from house and techno to reggae and rock.

 

Entrance Fee: Varies according to the artist – from \2,000 to \5,000

Open Hours: Live shows generally start from 10 p.m., but are earlier on weekends

Access: Directly connected to exit 2 of the Keihan train line’s Jingu-Marutamachi station. Located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Kawabata and Marutamachi streets. 

Google Map

Kitsune

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This club boasts a world-class music system and top artists from around the world. It has two floors – Sea and Land, with the latter hosting genre-specific music and events. A relatively new club, its interior is clean and welcoming.

 

Entrance Fee: Women free except for after 10 p.m. on Fridays (\1,500) and Saturdays (\1,000 from 9 p.m. – 10 p.m., \2,000 after that.) The base fee for men is \1,000, rising to \3,000 after 10 p.m. on Saturdays. Free drink included. Special events may cost extra.

Open Hours: From 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 p.m. other days

Access: A 5-minute walk from the Keihan train line’s Sanjo station or a 10-minute walk from its Gion Shijo station. A 5-minute walk from Tozai subway line’s Sanjo Keihan station. A 10-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Shijo Kawaramachi station.

Google Map

Butterfly

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This is a popular dance club that mainly plays hip hop and R&B. It uses lighting and design to create a high-class atmosphere and invites top DJs from around the world. In line with the vibe, no beach sandals or sweat pants are permitted.

 

Entrance Fee: \1,000 for non-Japanese includes one free drink

Open Hours: From 10 p.m.

Access: A 9-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station, and a 6-minute walk from either the Keihan line’s Sanjo station or the Tozai subway line’s Sanjo Keihan station.

Google Map

Kyoto’s Best Bars

bar

For a quieter night, stop by one of Kyoto’s bars. You can stick with beer or explore with sake.

Pig & Whistle

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This British pub is popular with English speakers, whether Japanese or foreign. Here you can get in a round of darts or watch live sports broadcasts as you sample some of the 10 types of beer on tap. Japanese craft beers are also available, as are various pub foods. Along with its convenient central location, happy hour (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) also makes this a good place for a pre-dinner drink or two.

 

Entrance Fee: None

Open Hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday – Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday – Sunday

Access: North side of Sanjo street, east of Kamo river. Right next to the Tozai subway line’s Keihan Sanjo station and the Keihan train line’s Sanjo station. 

Google Map

Backgammon

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Open until five in the morning, this spot is popular with clubber-goers who want to keep on going. It has a cozy, local feel and a loft seating area where your drinks get sent up by a special elevator. This bar is frequented by many regulars and serious drinkers.

 

Entrance Fee: None

Open Hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday – Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday – Sunday

Access: A 6-minute walk from the Tozai subway line’s Kyoto City Hall station and a 5-minute walk from either the Tozai subway line’s Keihan Sanjo station or the Keihan train line’s Sanjo station. 

Google Map

Sake Bar Yoramu

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This quietly stylish bar has an amazing range of sake, from fresh unpasteurized rice wine to amber-colored 30-year-plus vintages, with an astonishing variety of flavors. The food here also varies widely – from traditional Kyoto dishes to pasta and Middle Eastern treats – but it all takes a back seat to the sake. Explore the world of sake with a tasting set of three different types.

 

Entrance Fee: None

Open Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight Wednesday – Saturday

Access: A 5-minute walk from the Karasuma and Tozai subway lines’ Karasuma-Oike station, and about an 8-minute walk from the Karasuma subway line’s Marutamachi station. 

Google Map

Unique Kyoto Entertainment at night

entertainment

Here is a broad selection of live entertainment where you can experience the Kyoto vibe of understated cool or avant-garde art, take in a show or try some traditional geisha games.

Jittoku

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Jittoku opened in 1973 as a coffee house but grew into a live music venue after musicians asked to play there. It is housed in an old sake warehouse and its tables and chairs are made from sake barrels, giving this veteran Kyoto hangout a very cool groove. Musicians of various genres perform most nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. After that, entry is free and you can enjoy the place as a pub. Top acts charge up to \6,000, but most cost about half of that.

 

Entrance Fee: \1,000 before 9 p.m., but free after that. Performers charge an extra fee.

Open Hours: 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

Access: About a 20-minute walk from the Karasuma subway line’s Marutamachi station or the Tozai subway line’s Nijojo-mae station. 

Google Map

UrBANGUILD

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An artistic environment with an avant-garde range of acts from live music to experimental dance. Get a feel for the Kyoto art community while you enjoy dinner and drinks in a spacious, laid-back atmosphere. Acts can cost up to \3,500.

 

Entrance Fee: \600

Open Hours: From 6:30 p.m.

Access: A 3-minute walk from either the Tozai subway line’s Keihan Sanjo station or the Keihan train line’s Sanjo station. A 6-minute walk from exit 1 of the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station. 

Google Map

Gear

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Unique non-verbal theatre that utilizes stage effect techniques taken from Kabuki and the latest technology. The fascinating show incorporates the performances of a world champion break-dancer, an international award-winning mime, a record-setting juggler, and a prominent magician. With no language barrier, the show creates an experience that all can share, including children.

 

Entrance Fee: Advanced tickets costs \4,200 for adults, \3,200 for university students and those aged 60 or more, \2,200 for school students, plus an extra \500 for tickets bought at the door. Children aged 4-6 are free. Kids aged three and under are only allowed into a matinee performance on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

Open Hours: 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows Saturday – Monday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows Wednesday and Friday.

Access: An 8-minute walk from the Hankyu train line’s Kawaramachi station, a 5-minute walk from the Keihan train line’s Sanjo Station, or Tozai subway line’s Keihan Sanjo station, or a 10-minute walk from the Karasuma subway line’s Karasuma-oike station. 

Google Map

Enchanted Time with Maikomaiko

Enjoy an authentic Kyoto experience by spending time with a young geisha – a maiko. This is a rare opportunity to get close to a maiko and not just watch her dance, but also talk with her, play traditional games with her and take as many photos together as you can. This interaction with active Japanese culture will likely be the highlight of your trip. It includes a full dinner of Japanese food and all-you-can-drink beverages.

 

Entrance Fee: \19,000 for those aged 18 or over, \17,000 for 6-17 year olds, \13,000 for 3-5 year olds and no cost (but no meal) for infants.

Open Hours: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Access: A 10-minute walk from exit 7 of the Keihan line’s Gion Shijo station. A 5-minute walk from the Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. 

Google Map

URL:http://www.travel-kyoto-maiko.com/

 

If you would like to know more about Geisha/Maiko tour, please check it out:

The best geisha tour in Kyoto

 

 

That’s all. Thank you for reading this article about nightlife, activity and spots in Kyoto.

I hope your nighttime in Kyoto will be great one!!

 

Author Profile

Yuichi Nagai
Yuichi Nagai
I am Nagai Yuichi ,CEO of S-fleage a company in Kyoto. We are spreading the charms of Kyoto to the world. I hope this article is helpful for your experience in Kyoto!