Comfort Hotel Hikone
Phone: (81) 749 27 8211
Fax: (81) 749 27 8212
This is a large, gleaming, upmarket pool palace near the Takaragaike Prince Hotel. Eat and drink from the extensive menu as you pot, cannon and bridge. Fried rice and other snacks can be sunk along with imported beers, tea and coffee and an impressive cocktail list. All the tables and cues are imported from the US and you can even purchase a cue or a case here, too. There is a private member's room downstairs with even more deluxe equipment. It is popular with young couples and a great place for a quiet break.
Country and Western musicians and music-lovers tend to gather in Honky Tonk to listen to both Japanese and foreign bands belting out the sounds from 8pm to closing time. Honky Tonk's interior can best be described as subtly lit and woody. Wide range of foods and drinks are available, with the homemade pizza at a reasonable price.
This simple and small cafe, at the casual end of cozy, has been around serving organic coffee since 1983. It seats 20 people and is handy if you have been visiting Manshuin or Shisendo temples. The atmosphere here is nice and calming and the music brillaint. Local bands play at Wood Note which gives them a chance to show their talents. What people come here for is the music which is good with their amazing sound systems.
Located in Kyoto's most popular tourist zone, the Tranq Room doubles as a live music salon on weekends. Choose from a wide range of drinks, including Neo-Asian teas, chai, lassi, beer, wine and sake. The menu includes Indian curry, vegetarian sandwiches, tandoori chicken, and ice cream. Even bring your laptop, as Tranq has WiFi. An English menu is available.
Hidden away in a residential area on the side of Yoshida Hill, a red door marks the entrance to Shirakaba. This tiny bar used to have twenty-four hour police surveillance on it, due to the fact that it was a hangout for the student activists of nearby Kyoto University. The person who runs the bar used to be married to the student leader Takase, whose memory is kept alive at the yearly cherry blossom party.
A famous, albeit small, friendly nightclub, Metro located in Marutamachi railway station on the Keihan Line attracts young, happy crowd. The music may be live or provided by DJs. The type of music depends on the night, but live acts have included man-of-the-people Linton Kwesi Johnson, Japan's Fantastic Plastic Machine, and Pizzicato Five. There's techno, drum and bass, trance, latin, jazz, pop, dub, roots reggae, hip hop and much more. Regular nights include Cool to Kool with contributions from Kyoto Jazz Massive; the wild Diamonds are Forever drag queen event, associated with the famous Dumb Type theater group; and Latino Connection. There may be two club nights on the same evening with separate charges, perhaps with a local band.
Situated just below a love hotel, Whoopee's is a favorite with Kyoto's young tribes of music fans. Whoopee's doubles as a club and as a venue for live bands. The bands you might expect to see here are of all descriptions, mostly Japanese and striving to make it but occasionally more established foreign crews. The subterranean space is quite large by Japanese standards for club events, but be warned, it can get warm down in this cavern. You can also hire the place for your own parties or concerts between 10a and 4p or 10p and 5a. Fully licensed.
This is a live house, big on the jazz scene. Artistes from overseas, such as the Tim Armacost Quartet from New York, as well as Japanese musicians like the Club Toko Sextet have played here. But it is not only jazz—there is also the occasional rock, blues and even pop bands who get up on the small stage. The decor leaves a little to be desired. This is not what you would call elegant, but it has such a nice sound system for a small place.
A cave does not have to be dark. See for yourself at one of the friendliest bars in Kyoto. Sama Sama is also one of the city's few foreign-owned businesses too. No English menu available here, but the owner speaks good English. Sit on large cushions at one of the beautiful low wooden tables or those with arthritis, at the counter, to sample from a variety of intriguing drinks, many from the equatorial region. Here you will encounter all manner of cocktails, draft beers and that delightful Bintang (Star) beer from Indonesia. Be careful with the Special Cocktail—it creeps up on you. On the food menu, there are a number of popular Indonesian dishes: Mee Goreng and Nasi Goreng among others. Opens at 6p.
One of the biggest and best-known bars in Kyoto, this basement place can get wild on weekends, with sometimes as many as 500 people dancing on the jam-packed floor and 30 on the bar counter! The clientele tends to be on the younger side and you have to show an I.D. at the door to show you are over 20 years old, even if you look 50. The music careens alarmingly from current chart pop to rock classics to handbag house. If the main room is making you claustrophobic, there is a small bar next to the entrance which serves a large range of Japanese sake in the traditional square cypress box called a masu. The food items are rather unimaginative, but filling: hash browns, french fries, pilaf, pizza, fish and chips, and so on. Indeed, only a few food items are available, but you can easily have your fill without spending much. Opens daily at 6p.
This is a very cool, arty bar, which is popular with a mixed, though primarily young and trendy crowd. The music: lounge and easy-listening. One comes here for the decor as much as the food and drinks. Everything is white, including the bar itself. Check out the light fittings of loose light bulbs in baskets. From 3p-6p, the tea and cake is served. Food is also served in the evening from 7p-2a, such as omelet, salad and rice dishes.
Resembling a film set for an Austin Powers movie, this chic trendy nightspot is located on Pontocho the heart of Gion's geisha district. Look no further for a surreal blend of the 60s--both 1960s and 1860s! There is a view of the river as the waiters mix the cocktails and you recline on your designer armchair and take-in the water features built into the walls and ceilings. Pastel shades, groovy bubbles and a refined ambiance make Switch a good place to switch on and tune in, or just switch off and chill out.