Though Kyoto's nightlife is more sedate than Osaka's, the areas around the old geisha quarters downtown thrive with nightclubs and bars. The Kiyamachi 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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  • 1. A-Bar

    Nakagyo-ku | Bars/Pubs

    This wood-paneled one-room izakaya pub doesn't look like much, but it regularly fills up with expats and locals. Visitors and regulars sit...Read More

  • 2. Bonds Rosary

    Higashiyama-ku | Live Music

    Performances almost nightly with Japanese and non-Japanese musicians. Seat charge is ¥600, but the cover charge changes with the acts. The venue...Read More

  • 3. Café Independants

    Nakagyo-ku | Live Music

    Trestle tables line the graffiti-covered walls of this basement café-bar that hosts indie rock, jazz, and blues musicians. It's a good place...Read More

  • 4. Club Metro

    Sakyo-ku | Live Music

    Popular Metro frequently hosts famous DJs from Tokyo and abroad. The range of music played—experimental dance, hip-hop, reggae, disco, salsa...Read More

  • 5. Taku Taku

    Shimogyo-ku | Live Music

    An enduring live-music venue that generally presents rock and blues acts, Taku Taku occasionally hosts well-known Japanese performers. You can...Read More


    Live Music

    The atmosphere is very “New York experimental theater” at this multidisciplinary venue for music, dance, video, and other performances about...Read More

  • 7. Yoramu

    Nakagyo-ku | Bars/Pubs

    An Israeli sake aficionado named Yoram stocks an extensive selection of the delicate rice wine, from unfiltered to aged, fruity to dry, all...Read More

  • 8. Gael Irish Pub

    Higashiyama-ku | Bars/Pubs

    This pub entertains patrons with traditional music and sports on TV. If you want more than a drink, classic fish-and-chips, Irish stew, and...Read More

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