Nightlife & the Arts in Kyoto

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Kyoto Nightlife

Kyoto is known for its traditional performances—particularly dance and Noh theater. All dialogue is in Japanese, but sometimes there are synopses available. From time to time world-class musicians play the intimate venues, including David Lindley, Ron Sexsmith, and Michelle Shocked. The most convenient source for information is your hotel concierge or guest-relations manager, who may even have a few tickets on hand. For further information on Kyoto's arts scene check the music and theater sections of the monthly magazine Kansai Scene, at bookshops for ¥300; you can also find information on the website www.kansaiscene.com. Another source is the Kyoto Visitor's Guide, which devotes a few pages to "This Month's Theater." Look at the festival listings for temple and shrine performances. It's available free from the Kyoto Tourist Information Center on the ninth floor of the Kyoto Station Building; the staff can also provide you with information.

Though Kyoto's nightlife is more sedate than Osaka's, the areas around the old geisha quarters downtown thrive with nightclubs and bars. The Kiya-machi area along the small canal near Ponto-cho in central Kyoto is packed full of bars, restaurants, and a few dance clubs and is as close to a consolidated nightlife area as you'll get in Kyoto. It's full of small watering holes with red lanterns (indicating inexpensive places) or small neon signs in front. It's also fun to walk around the Gion in eastern Kyoto and Ponto-cho in central Kyoto to try to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko stealing down an alleyway on her way to or from an appointment.

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