If you are visiting Kyoto City with your partner and want a night on the town, Kiyamachi-dori (near to Kawaramachi station) is perhaps the best place to be! Kiyamachi-dori is a street that comes alive in the evening, bustling with locals and tourists alike. Of course, there are the classic places to head like the Hub pub or Torikizoku chicken and beer chains, but why not try out some of the more independent bars that are tucked away and with much more atmosphere?
Not only is Kiyamachi-dori an exciting place to be, with the stream running through it and large trees creating a pretty promenade, it is very beautiful – particularly at night when the lights are reflected in the gentle run of the water! With quaint bridges crossing the stream, and the trees filled with cherry blossoms in the spring, rustling leaves in the summer and autumn foliage in the winter, Kiyamachi-dori is the perfect spot to stroll along (or stumble down) hand-in-hand in any season.
Here are the top 5 off-the-beaten-track bars to visit in Kiyamachi-dori:
Address: 〒604-8017 京都府京都市中京区 木屋町通六角東側材木町184 都会館102
Hidden down a side alleyway, Concrete Bar has a fantastic atmosphere and very friendly staff. Enter through the small sticker-covered sliding door (if you can find it!), and either sit along the bar or head upstairs to an intimate loft seating area for a truly romantic experience. With low Japanese-style tables, dim, coloured lighting and murals drawn all over the walls, Concrete Bar is a funky hideout for couples looking for privacy. Not only is the atmosphere fantastic, there is a wide selection of cocktails and drinks to choose from, most of which are priced at under 500 JPY until midnight!
Rasta Reggae Izakaya
Address: 〒604-8032 京都府京都市中京区河原町通三条下る二丁目 山崎町246 (5F)
This reggae-themes izakaya bar is hidden up on the 5th floor of a pretty downtrodden-looking building but its interior is anything but downtrodden! Low mosaic-tiled tables and cushions fill the room, and hanging lanterns and curtains create a very intimate but laid-back feel. Unlike some other reggae-themed bars, the music here is very chilled and can be enjoyed also by people who are not necessarily die-hard fans of reggae. The staff here are excellent, and it is possible to order food at a reasonable price. Bottled beer comes in at 600 JPY and there is a large range of cocktails and other drinks available for similar prices as well. An added bonus is that the bathroom here is always spotless. Rasta is the perfect chilled-hangout-style date spot!
Rock ING Bar
Address: 〒604-8022 京都府京都市 中京区西木屋町通蛸薬師上る南車屋町２８８－２０１ 京都ロイヤルビル (2F)
If quirky really is your thing, head to Rock ING Bar for a drink surrounded by Rolling Stones posters and great rock music. Whatever song you please, the outgoing and eccentric owner/bartender will play it for you! (Maybe you have a couples’ song? Give it a go!) Bottled beer is the owner of this bar’s specialty, and he whacks the lid off with a lighter! The bottle caps then get put into a hanging curtain above the bar, so give it a little nudge when you’re there to hear the rattle of past beer-drinkers. If you want a little something to do, Rock ING also has a selection of games available, including Jenga and Uno. You are sure to not run out of things to talk about here!
Address: 〒604-8032 京都府Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku 河原町 六角テラスビル 通六角東入ル山崎町236
This cosy bar is in an alleyway just off Kiyamachi-dori, and is the perfect place to wind down after a day of exploring with a craft beer or cocktail. Run by a French man who describes his venue as a “museum of the world”, the bar is full of interesting knick-knacks and often also has live music playing. There is also outdoor seating here, which is especially nice in warmer weather. The mismatched furniture and friendly relaxed feel makes F.S.N a popular spot for couples looking for a place to have good conversation.
Address: 〒604-8017 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Zaimokucho, 182, 木屋町カワセビル
This gem of a bar is set on the second floor or the main street of Kiyamachi-dori above a lively Spanish bar. With low sofas and atmospheric lighting, this is the perfect bar to cuddle up with your date. The drinks are reasonably priced and are great quality – most of the drinks are branded, and cocktails are served with care. A large window looks out onto the street as well, so even though the bar is small, it does not feel cramped. Plus, it’s open til 5am… perfect for late night conversations.