Central Honshū drinking and nightlife

Top Choice Bar in Matsumoto

Eonta Jazz Bar

If you like jazz, it doesn't get any better than Eonta, a tiny 15-seater upstairs, directly above Katsu Gen restaurant. The friendly owner has been running his bar since 1974 and likes his jazz, chosen from over 400…
Top Choice Bar in Nagano

James' Nagano Beer Market

This extremely popular beer hall–type place is upstairs only a couple of minutes' walk from Nagano Station. Plenty of beer and wine from around the globe are on offer, but tops are the Shiga Kōgen Highland Ales from…
Top Choice Craft Beer in Nozawa Onsen

Libushi

Smack in the middle of the village, Libushi is Nozawa Onsen's very own artisan brewery. With a taproom up front, a brewery out the back and a very innovative attitude, this outfit is coming up with some intriguing o…
Top Choice Pub in Nagano

Shinshū Nagaya Sakaba

This lively izakaya (pub-restaurant) isn't far from the station and should be on your to-do list. You'll spot it by all the sake barrels plastered around the corner building – bring your sake-tasting gear because yo…
Top Choice Craft Beer in Matsumoto

Matsumoto Brewery Taproom

Tasty local brews, highlighted by the Awesome! Pale Ale, can be enjoyed in a delightful two-storey taproom in a lovely old building in Nakamachi. There's a second location on the 3rd floor of the new Media Building …
Top Choice Bar in Hakuba

Mocking Bird

This Echoland favourite has a cosy, natural-wood, log-cabin vibe about it, offering a solid range of drinks and pub food on an English menu with great music. It's extremely popular: you might find it hard to get in …
Teahouse in Gujō-Hachiman

Onabi-en

Come for the Fukui Prefecture–grown green tea packaged for gifting, stay for the mind-blowing matcha (powdered green tea) soft ice cream. Onabi is 100m west of Bizenya Ryokan. You'll know it from the green-ice-cream…
Pub in Hakuba

Hakuba Brew Pub

It's hard to go wrong when you're at the bottom of the Iwatake slopes and are home base for the local brew, Hakuba Beer. This winter-only place is a top spot, offering good pub food plus the full range of Hakuba Bee…
Coffee in Wajima

Kalpa

What a delightful surprise to find excellent coffee in deepest Noto! The barista behind Kalpa's counter is also a third-generation lacquer craftsman; his and his father's handiwork is for sale in the shop.
Pub in Takayama

Red Hill Pub

You'll feel like you're walking into a friend's living room in this cosy, dimly lit basement bar. The hip and happy owner, Hisayo, deftly adjusts the vibe to suit the patrons present. It's sometimes soulful and smoo…