Nightlife

Top Choice Bar in Himeji

Kokoromi

It's all about local sake at this modern and sophisticated standing bar, which stocks some 270 varieties from Hyōgo, Himeji's prefecture. Touch screens let you search and order in English by taste, price and grade (…
Top Choice Craft Beer in Osaka

Beer Belly

Beer Belly is run by Osaka's best microbrewery, Minoh Beer. There are 10 taps and one hand pump featuring Minoh's award-winning classics and seasonal offerings (pints from ¥1000). Pick up a copy of Osaka's Craft Bee…
Top Choice Bar in Osaka

Misono Building

With a waterfall and grand, spiraling staircase out front, the Misono Building was once a symbol of the high life (c 1956). It's now fallen into a kind of decadent decay, making the building a lure for underground c…
Top Choice Club in Osaka

Circus

This small club is the heart of Osaka's underground electronic scene, drawing a crowd more for the music than a pick-up scene. The dance floor is nonsmoking. It's open on Friday and Saturday nights and sometimes dur…
Club in Kōbe

Izn't

This large and lively bar brings Kōbe's Japanese and foreign community together with a rotation of salsa dancing, live bands, open mic, acoustic nights, sports broadcasts, cocktails, beer, wine and frozen mojitos. T…
Bar in Kōbe

Sake Yashiro

Kōbe is one of Japan's great sake-producing cities, and this chill little standing bar and restaurant located just steps from Ikuta Shrine is a great spot to sample the many varieties produced here. It stocks over 9…
Bar in Nara

Nara Izumi Yūsai

Drop in on this small standing bar in Naramachi for tastings (¥200 to ¥600) of sakes produced in Nara Prefecture (120 varieties from 29 makers, also available for purchase). There is a useful English explanation she…
Teahouse in Nara

Mizuya-chaya

In a small wooded, brookside clearing between Nigatsu-dō and Kasuga Taisha, this quaint thatched-roof teahouse is one of Nara's most atmospheric spots. Stop for a cup of matcha (powdered green tea; ¥700 including a …
Cafe in Kōbe

Starbucks Ijinkan

We normally avoid big chains, but this Starbucks is different: it's housed in a beautifully preserved former ijinkan (foreigners' house), circa 1907, in the Kitano-chō neighbourhood. Buy a cuppa and esconce yourself…
Gay & Lesbian in Osaka

Frenz Frenzy

Frenz Frenzy calls itself a 'rainbow haven' and it means that literally: the whole place is awash in colour (including the front door, thankfully, because otherwise it would be impossible to find). Run by long-time …