A view from Sanjo-dori bridge (Photo: Komal Khiani)

A Night Out in Kyoto

Things to do in Kyoto after dark

A view from Sanjo-dori bridge (Photo: Komal Khiani)
Komal Khiani   - 4 min read

When it gets to a Friday night or a night before a long holiday, a night out can be a perfect way to take a break from the hectic schedule and enjoy yourself. For a change it is good to go out and explore the night life of a city rather than the usual daytime rush and chaos or traffic on the streets.

There are many options to enjoy a great night out with friends and missing your last trains or buses and spending an entire night on the streets of Kyoto can be fun!

The best common meeting point is outside Sanjo-keihan Station which is on the Keihan main line. If you use public transport after 7 p.m. you avoid the overloaded trains and buses with the people returning home from work. After that, you usually find the subways full of youngsters all dressed up for the fun night after a long week at school or work.

Get together under Sanjo-dori bridge

If you do not have anything planned and clubs or bars are not your thing, there is always a solution. Pick up some beers and food from the stores across the bridge and go sit with you buddies under the Sanjo-dori bridge. The area is popular amongst foreigners and Japanese people from Kyoto University. It is the perfect place to spend some quality time meeting new people from all over the world. As legends say, strong relations and celebrations have always started over ales, and it is also true in our modern times. Coffees are just the conversational starters, but bonds are made over few beers, just saying!

Go to Karaoke

If you have not tried Karaoke in Japan yet, then you are missing on some real fun. It is the land of karaoke, where karaoke machines were first invented. From Sanjo-dori bridge walk towards Kiyamachi-dori, where you will find numerous karaoke rooms. You can go there anytime; however, sometimes it is a good idea to wait till midnight, as the midnight rates are usually lower than in the early evening. The karaoke rooms would cost you around ¥600-800 per hour, but they do have better packages for ¥1200-1500 for one hour with “all-you-can-drink”. These are the private rooms which can accommodate around 10-15 people at a time, with 2 microphones, a screen and a karaoke machine. You can always just book for one hour to see how it goes, and if you want to extend your time, there is no problem; the karaoke rooms are often open till 5 a.m.

Hit a club or a bar

If you plan to move ahead after the karaoke experience, keep walking along Kiyamachi-dori where you would find a couple of bars and clubs open even after midnight. There are clubs which will charge you an entry fee to get inside the club, so you can maybe try the “ZaZa” bar, which has no entry fee as such; all you have to do is to buy a drink worth ¥500. It is a popular bar with mainly foreigners where you can indulge in a dart game with your friends and listen to the great music, which is the main attraction amongst the people going there.

Where to eat?

After a long night, “Where to eat?” is probably an important question coming to your mind. There are many restaurants and takeaways open in the same area. However, if you don’t want to spend much—it will technically be breakfast time—head towards McDonalds at the end of Kiyamachi-dori and enjoy the happy meal with your friends. When I was there, they had FIFA World cup boxes with new football shaped burgers!

Kiyamachi-dori is an one kilometer stretch of nightclubs, karaoke bars and restaurants and it runs perpendicular between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori, the two central boulevards of Kyoto. A night out will save you from traffic, the daily chaos of the routine life and will always give you a different experience than what you tried in the daytime on the same streets.

Komal Khiani

Komal Khiani @komal.khiani

A travelaholic and a photographer, I believe that travel broadens one's view towards the world. Experiencing other cultures, meeting new people from other communities and other countries, exploring new places is something that inspires me everyday.