Oct. 21, 2019 UPDATE

Kyoto’s Coolest Nightlife Spots – Art, Late Night Cafes, and Retro Bars

A showcase of the coolest and most photogenic nightlife spots around Kyoto.
Nightlife Spots

Have you heard of the new Japanese phrase, “emoi”?

It’s a piece of slang taken from the English word “emotional” and is used for everything from cool and trendy to sad and sorrowful.

In this article, we’ve put together an “emoi” tour of Kyoto’s nightlife that takes you to six cafes, bars, and clubs in the area between Kyoto Station and downtown Kawaramachi.

This neighborhood has become a favorite with trendy Kyoto locals and despite its distance from the business district, is a nightlife hub.

We’ve compiled a list of wonderful little spots that’ll have you snapping photo after photo as you search for what “emoi” means to you.

Only a 12-minute bus ride from Kyoto station or an 8-minute walk from the Kujo Subway Station, HOTEL ANTEROOM KYOTO is a convenient hotel great for those wanting to just check-in and free themselves of their luggage after getting to Kyoto.

HOTEL ANTEROOM KYOTOWhen you open the door, you’ll be greeted by a friendly “Konnichiwa!” and an original artwork of a deer by sculptor Kohei Nawa. Nawa is known for his modern art pieces, which have even been displayed in the likes of the Louvre in Paris.

Also, sitting directly beside the deer, you’ll find a photo gallery.

With 90 pieces in total, at ANTEROOM you can enjoy a stay surrounded by art.

toiletsEven the toilets look amazing.

ANTEROOM boasts works by a range of different artists which can be throughout the entire hotel. Everywhere you look, you can snap a cool picture. You also find yourself always wanting to bust out the camera and snap some more shots.

The art

The art around the hotel isn’t just for looks either; you can also buy and take home some pieces as well.

Personally, I thought the ANTEROOM logo t-shirts sold in the shop were pretty emoi, and totally recommend them. ANTEROOM have kids sizes too, so their merch is also great as souvenirs or presents for loved ones back home too.

The ANTEROOM bar lounge

The ANTEROOM bar lounge.

This space is open from 7 PM to 12 AM, making it a great place to catch a nightcap after arriving back from a night out.

The bar is packed with a wide variety of drinks and boasts over 150 different types of whiskey. In addition, they also offer Kyoto’s very own craft gin, Kinobi, and craft beer from the KYOTO BREWING CO. as well.

KYOTO BREWING CO.’s beers change seasonally, so going and seeing what’s on offer is another exciting aspect of visiting ANTEROOM.

breakfast restaurant

Across from the bar lounge is ANTEROOM’s breakfast restaurant.

Open from 7 AM to 11 AM, the restaurant runs relatively late into the morning, letting those who stayed out late the night before slide in and get some brekkie too.

Route 1

Here we’ve put together a route that will show you a deeper side of Kyoto. First, you’ll relax in a traditional Japanese bathhouse like a real Kyotoite before hitting the town.

A few of the stores are a little unique, so if you’re ever unsure about the rules or how to order anything, then just ask one of the nice Kyotoites around you and make some new friends while you’re at it!

2Sauna no Umeyu
Hop off the train at the Keihan “Kiyomizu-Gojō Station” and walk south along the Takase River.Sauna no UmeyuUmeyu is an old bath house keeping Japanese traditions alive.

The colors and font of the neon sign are pretty emoi, don'tcha think?

One of the best parts of Umeyu is the fact that you can head in with no pre-prep and slide into one of their baths whenever you feel like it.

For ¥460 (¥430 for the baths and ¥30 for a rental towel) you can enjoy five different types of baths, a sauna, and free shampoo and body soap.

In the women’s bath, there is even makeup remover, hair ties, and moisturizer. What an awesome a bathhouse, right!

bath towelsTheir logoed bath towels and super retro and totally cute! (purchasable for ¥480)

These towels are also great as mementos to remember your Kyoto bathhouse experience by.

One of the other great things about Umeyu is just how open they are to those from overseas. They are tattoo-friendly and provide instructions on how to use their baths.

At the front desk you can borrow an explanation on how to use the baths, so even if it’s your first time at a Japanese bathhouse, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

coffee milkAfter getting out of the bath, nothing beats this; coffee milk – a sweet café au lait like drink (¥140).

In Japan, this is one of the most beloved things to drink after a bath.

sodasAlso, Umeyu sells Japanese plum and lemon-flavored sodas, as well as the ginger and sugar-based drink hiyashiame.

3Kyoto Beer Lab
All bathed and refreshed; it’s time to quench your thirst with a beer!Kyoto Beer Lab

Kyoto Beer Lab is a craft beer bar that serves beer brewed in-store.

 in-house tea-beerKyoto Beer Lab’s signature brew is their in-house tea-beer hybrid which uses tea from the Kyoto town of Wazuka.

snacksTheir menu also contains a few small bar snacks as well.

For our vegan friends, there is the Red Wine Soybean-meat Stew, while other options give vegetarians something to enjoy too. Kyoto Beer Lab is truly welcoming of all.

cheersNothing beats sitting outside along the Takase River with a few friends and a nice brew.

Address Eng: 201-3 Juzenjicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8137, Japan Jpn: 京都府京都市下京区十禅師町201-3
Open Hours Monday to Friday: 3 p.m. - 11 p.m. Weekends and holidays: 1 p.m. - 11 p.m. *Last Call for Food: 10 p.m. Last Call for Drinks: 10:30 p.m. ※The open hours was changed.  Monday to Friday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.   Weekends and holidays: 1 p.m. - 11 p.m.  *Last Call for Drinks: 10:30 p.m.  

4Sujin Shinmachi
Haven’t had enough? Next head to the lively food stall market, Sujin Shinmachi.Sujin ShinmachiThis night market-esuqe space is set up like a food court.
menuWith over 16 food stalls, you can enjoy everything from yakitori, and tempura, to Thai food and wine, all in one


As Sujin Shinmachi will only be open until the summer of 2020, it’s full of Kyoto natives and overseas visitors alike, enjoying it while it lasts.

With so many options availableWith so many options available, your table quickly turns into the food version of the United Nations haha.

campfireSujin Shinmachi’s most popular spot; the campfire!

Nursing a drink while gazing into a crackling fire? Now that’s what I call emoi!

Address Eng: Japan, 〒600-8207 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Kaminocho, 19−6 Jpn: 京都府京都市下京区上之町(塩小路通)19-6
Open Hours Weekdays: 17:00 - 23:00 Holidays and Weekends: 12:00 – 23:00 *Business hours may vary depending on the stall *Please note that during the summer period of July and August, business hours for holidays and weekends are 17:00 – 23:00

Now that you should be good and full, let’s head back to the hotel.


The room we stayed in was designed by photographer, Mika Ninagawa.

With solo exhibitions in China, Taiwan, in addition to Japan, Mika Ningawa is a popular artist who has recently been making a name for herself as a director as well.

In addition to this room, ANTEROOM has also collaborated with eight other artists to create their other rooms too. Each room features differing unique designs, so look to see if you can’t find one that grabs your attention.

energy-packed breakfast

Refresh and recharge in the morning with an energy-packed breakfast of seasonal vegetables and fruit.

With a ton of super healthy options, breakfast at ANTEROOM is great for the morning after a long night out.

Miyabi[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]
What’d you think about this “emoi” Kyoto night? Purposefully moving away from downtown, I think the places I showcased above are all super trendy, hip places that you’ll be able to chill out and relax at. Definitely give both these routes a shot, and most of all, don’t forget to get a few pics for the gram.
Related keywords
All Things To Do Cafes Bars / Pubs Food & Drinks To Go All Kyoto Area

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