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Bars and Nightclubs Kyoto, Japan

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As the sun sets and you begin to yearn for a healthy dose of nightlife, look no further than the Gion district and the downtown streets nearby. This is the traditional playground of aristocracy and the working class alike, where mizushobai, or the "water trade," has been practiced successfully for centuries--and still is! You will most certainly want to pay a visit to Pontocho Dori, opposite Gion and just west of the Kamo River.

This long, narrow street is lined on both sides by bars and restaurants. It is a fun place to explore at night, and you will certainly want to pop into some of the more inviting spots, such as live house Taku Taku with its big-name bands and Switch Forum with its groovy 60s motif. For less traditional, more contemporary evening entertainment, take a stroll from Pontocho to parallel Kiyamachi Dori or perpendicular Kawaramachi Dori. These streets provide a lively collection of eateries and watering holes that offer all comers a convivial welcome. Drop in at Kyoto's newest Irish bar, K6, for a pint of Guinness, or settle in at sports bar Scoreboard to watch your favorite teams on television. Or for a night out Japanese-style, sit at the counter bar of a typical nomiya (drinking spot). After a long day of temple-hopping, there is perhaps nothing more relaxing than to sip sake (rice wine) and nibble otsumami ("pub grub") in the company of friends. And wherever you go, you will be among friends in Kyoto, one of the most hospitable and fascinating cities in the world.

Kyoto is an amazing blend of traditional and modern architecture. In Rakuchu, the old city centre, you'll find the old Machiya town houses where Geisha once entertained. Most are now shops but in one or ten you can sample hundreds of varieties of local tipples such as the evil 'shochu'! But whatever you do don't pour yourself a drink - it's extremely rude. Notable landmarks include the Heian Shrine, Toji Temple's five-storey pagoda and Kinkakuji Temple (or Golden Pavilion) a wonderfully tranquil place to recover from a heavy night! Visit in November and April and you'll witness Japan's obsession with the fiery-red Maple leaves and also with Cherry blossom ­ which they mention in the weather forecast! And if you're cultured-out nip to Shizuoka and Yokohama during the World Cup to catch some action.

Ace Cafe
Nakagyo-ku Kiyamachi
dori Sanjo-agaru
Kyoto, Empire Biru 10 F

Telephone: + 81 75 241 0009

Kyoto is at the forefront of a new eastern cool that takes the retro 50s and 60s as its cue. One of several aces in the design bar pack is Ace Cafe, located on the high floors of a towering building with spectacular views of the city below. Walls are floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides and hip young Kyoto couples sip strong cocktails in colourful lounge seats, gazing out on the city lights below. Most popular at sunset, it gets busy later on too when the drinks, mellow sounds and friendly vibes take preference over the view.

Bar Fakers
47-2 Okubo-cho
Tanaka Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8236

Telephone: 00 81 75 722 8228

A cool and grungy loft bar that's not as phoney as the name suggests. Conveniently located above the Anchovie Cafe near Mototanaka Station, the drinks are cheaper than most spots this side of town and the cheery regular barmen don't skimp on the shots. Beers and vodka-based cocktails seem to be popular with the regulars, a mix of with-it youngsters and more sober professionals. Inside it's dark and moody with bar stools lining the counter, although we prefer the sofas and soft chairs to lie back on and listen to the techno and ambient sounds.
Bar Isn't It?

Bar Isn't It?
67-3daikoku-cho
Kawaramachi Sanjo
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto

Phone: 075-221-5399

Where is a famous large open-spaced bar in downtown Kyoto, where all drinks are just 500 yen? Anyone can probably tell you that the answer is "Bar Isn't it" at Sanjo Kawaramachi. As one of the best entertainment spaces in this area, Bar Isn't continues to play various roles and welcome large number of people as it has since it opened: it's a casual bar, a music hall, a dance spot on weekends, not to mention a gathering place for all sorts of groups different people.
Bar Zinho
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto

Telephone: +81 75 712 5477

Not much bigger than a penalty area and with just about enough space to seat a football team, this cosy Brazilian bar with football posters and flags on the walls, draws a funky crowd of ex-pats and locals every night. The hottest samba and bossa nova are spun by music-loving bar staff who know their Caipirinhas from their Caipiroskas, and they also offer Brazilian coffee and beer for the truly homesick. Three drinks on you can almost imagine you are back in Rio or Salvador during Carnival - except of course, this is Kyoto, those are temples outside, and the bar is about as big as a bonsai tree.
D's

D's
Kawabata-Marutamachi
Higashi-iru, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto

Phone: 075-752-7626

At first glance, you might mistake D' for a coffeeshop, but D' is a bar which opens after 18:00. It's one of few drinking places with a quiet and safe atmosphere, and modern interior design. In this way, D' contrasts sharply with the bright neon bars of downtown. And the casual interior makes it easy for women to feel comfortable here. The simple decor is made up of no more than a bar counter, some small tables and a couch. Spotlights installed on the ceiling play a supporting role in creating a peaceful environment without overdoing it. "Everything simple" is D' operative terminology. A fair-sized food menu and a full bar welcome any type of visitor. Beer, cocktails, and hard liquor start at 500yen as do basic dishes.

Marble Room
135 Nakagyo-ku Pontocho
Sanjo-sagaru Pontocho biru 4F
Kyoto

Telephone: + 81 75 213 0753

White retro bucket seats line the bar and Kyoto's cool cats takes seats or places on the mattress-like cushions that are positioned around the floor. It's bright and airy inside, done up in red, yellow and spotless white tones, and in summer you can step outside onto a small balcony and gaze down on the Komo River below. Cocktails, coffee, even cakes are on offer in the day, dyed-hair babes in designer glasses bringing new meaning to the term ladies who lunch. Take a seat in one of those bucket seats and get the drinks in.
Pig & Whistle

Pig & Whistle
115 Ohashi-cho
Ohashi, Higashiiru
Sanjo-dori, Higashiyama-ku

Phone: 075-761-6022

This authentic British pub house is just outside of Keihan-Sanjo station. Since opening, it's been a place for international residents and visitors looking for a fun evening. Almost every weekend, Pig and Whistle has live music. And every Thursday evening is "ladies' day", offering most drinks (for women) for just 400yen. Activities such as darts competition or parties for Halloween and Christmas are always being organized. Whenever you miss people or want to meet someone new, visit this multicultural place in Kyoto.
Rub a Dub

Rub a Dub
Tujita Bld BF
Sanjo-kiyamachi
sagaru
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto

Phone: 075-256-3122

The oldest Reggae bar in Kyoto, Rub a Dub was opened by the owner as a small Jamaican world to give as a gift for his wife, who's from Jamaica. Since then, it has been a hot and happening dancing place for Reggae lovers. Yellow, red and green lights hang over the bar, as do ripe bananas. Palm trees stretch up to the ceiling.

Shirakaba
Nakaoji-cho Yoshida
yama
Kyoto, 606-8313

Telephone: 00 81 75 771 2388

A legendary, yet hard-to-find gem in a residential area to the side of Yoshida Hill, you'll only know it by the little red door that marks the entrance. Once a hangout for student activists of nearby Kyoto University, it used to have twenty-four hour police surveillance. Things have calmed down now though and if you make it out here, you'll find a general air of drunken joviality through the cigarette smoke. The locals are a mix of young intellectuals and bohemian types who like to party, while the current owner, former partner of a late student leader, holds an annual cherry blossom party in his memory.
Zappa

Zappa
Higashi-iru Takoyakushi
Kawaramachi, Nakagyo-ku

Phone: 075-255-4437

This pub is a hidden favorite of ours. Zappa has been a gathering place for area locals for more than twenty years, crowded everyday with regulars and other repeat visitors. Zappa serves mainly hot and spicy Indonesian dishes. The owner's experience living in Indonesia for half of her years enabled her to set-up a real international kitchen: Balinese Ramen, Korean noodles, Vietnamese spring rolls and Mexican pizza. Regulars never get bored with spicy deep fried fish or enjoying a beer or two with chicken in peanut sauce.
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