Kansai drinking and nightlife

Top Choice Coffee in Osaka

Brooklyn Roasting Company

With its worn leather couches, big wooden communal table and industrial fittings, this is a little slice of Brooklyn in Osaka and the perfect pit stop while exploring Naka-no-shima. Sip well-crafted coffee (almond a…
Top Choice Craft Beer in Osaka

Beer Belly

Beer Belly is run by Osaka's best microbrewery, Minoh Beer, and features Minoh's award-winning classics and seasonal offerings (pints from ¥930). Pick up a copy of Osaka's Craft Beer Map here to further your local b…
Top Choice Bar in Osaka

Misono Building

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

Circus

This small club is the heart of Osaka's underground electronic scene. The dance floor is nonsmoking. It's open on Friday and Saturday nights and sometimes during the week. Look up for the small sign in English and b…
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…
Bar in Himeji

Kokoromi

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

Hanamoto Coffee

Both locals and out-of-towners agree that this cafe (running since 1975) is the place for coffee (freshly ground and siphon brewed, from ¥430) in Himeji. Come before 11am and your drink order will arrive with a hard…
Teahouse in Hongū

Fushiogami-chaya

Along the Nakahechi trail halfway between Hosshinmon-ōji and Kumano Hongū Taisha (about an hour's walk from either) is this inviting pit stop run by a gang of local ladies. It serves homemade shiso (perilla-leaf) ju…
Bar in Kōbe

Sake Yashiro

This standing bar has a daunting selection of 90 kinds of sake, including about 50 from local brewers, on its (Japanese-only) menu. Anticipating your needs, staff have made a cheat sheet in English of their top five…
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 …