Fun Things to Do in Kyoto at Night

Are you planning a trip to Kyoto and wondering what to do at night? Look no further! Kyoto is a beautiful city that offers a wide range of fun activities to do after the sun sets. From exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife to visiting temples and shrines, Kyoto has something for everyone. Keep reading to discover some of the best things to do in Kyoto at night.

One of the best ways to start your night in Kyoto is by exploring Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower. The station is a hub of activity and offers a variety of shopping and dining options. The observation deck at Kyoto Tower offers stunning views of the city at night. After that, take a night walk in Higashiyama and Gion District, two of the most beautiful areas in Kyoto. Enjoy the traditional architecture, lantern-lit streets, and the chance to see geishas walking to their appointments.

Key Takeaways

  • Kyoto offers a wide range of fun activities to do at night, from exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife to visiting temples and shrines.
  • Start your night by exploring Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower, then take a night walk in Higashiyama and Gion District to enjoy the traditional architecture and lantern-lit streets.
  • Experience Kyoto’s culinary culture by going on a night food tour, or catch a traditional Japanese performance at Gion Corner.

Exploring Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower


Kyoto Station is not only a transportation hub but also a destination in itself. This modern and impressive building has a lot to offer, from shops and restaurants to recreational facilities and accommodations. Here are some fun things to do at Kyoto Station:

Kyoto Station

  • Take in the view: Head up to the observation deck on the 15th floor for a stunning panoramic view of Kyoto. You can even see as far as Osaka on a clear day.
  • Shop for souvenirs: Check out the underground shopping mall, The Cube, for a wide variety of souvenirs and gifts.
  • Try some local food: There are plenty of restaurants and food stalls in Kyoto Station, offering a range of Japanese cuisine from sushi to ramen.

Kyoto Tower Observation Deck

Kyoto Tower is a landmark of the city, standing at 131 meters tall. Here are some fun things to do at the observation deck:

  • Watch the sunset: The observation deck offers a breathtaking view of the sunset over Kyoto. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic evening or just to enjoy the view with friends.
  • Learn about Japanese culture: The observation deck has a small museum showcasing the history and culture of Kyoto.
  • Take some memorable photos: The observation deck has a photo booth where you can take photos with a green screen of different Kyoto landmarks.

Overall, exploring Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower is a must-do activity when in Kyoto, especially at night. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the beauty of the city from above.

Night Walk in Higashiyama and Gion District


If you’re looking for a unique Kyoto experience, take a night walk through the Higashiyama and Gion districts. These areas are known for their traditional architecture, lantern-lit streets, and geisha culture. You’ll get a chance to see the city’s heritage in a new light and experience the magic of Kyoto at night.


Higashiyama is a historic district that’s home to many of Kyoto’s temples and shrines. At night, the area is transformed by the soft glow of lanterns, creating a mystical atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic stroll or a solo adventure. Some of the top sights to see in Higashiyama at night include the Yasaka Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and the scenic Yasaka Street.

Gion District

The Gion district is famous for its geisha culture, and it’s one of the best places to see maiko (apprentice geisha) and geiko (professional geisha) in action. Take a walk down Hanami-koji Street and you’ll see traditional teahouses, restaurants, and shops that have been around for centuries. The Gion district is also home to the annual Gion Matsuri festival, which takes place every July and is one of the largest and most famous festivals in Japan.

As you walk through Higashiyama and Gion at night, keep an eye out for the Yasaka Pagoda, one of the most iconic landmarks in Kyoto. It’s especially beautiful when it’s lit up at night, and it’s a popular spot for photographers.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just want to see a different side of Kyoto, a night walk through Higashiyama and Gion is a must-do activity. So put on your walking shoes, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

Dining and Drinking Experiences


Kyoto is a city that takes its food and drink seriously, and there are plenty of options for dining and drinking experiences that will leave you feeling satisfied and happy. Here are two types of experiences you shouldn’t miss when in Kyoto at night.

Izakaya and Yakitori

If you’re looking for a fun and casual night out, head to an izakaya or yakitori restaurant. Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs that serve a variety of small plates and drinks, while yakitori restaurants specialize in grilled chicken skewers. Both are perfect for a night of drinking and snacking with friends.

Some popular izakayas in Kyoto include:

  • Izakaya Hachibei: This izakaya has a lively atmosphere and serves a variety of delicious dishes, including grilled skewers, sashimi, and tempura.
  • Izakaya Yuki: This izakaya is known for its excellent sake selection and delicious izakaya-style dishes.
  • Izakaya Kikyo: This izakaya is located in the heart of Gion and serves up traditional Kyoto-style dishes.

If you’re in the mood for yakitori, check out:

  • Torito: This yakitori restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and serves up delicious grilled chicken skewers.
  • Yakitori Daikichi: This restaurant is known for its high-quality chicken and delicious dipping sauces.
  • Yakitori Imai: This restaurant is located in the Pontocho area and is known for its delicious yakitori and lively atmosphere.

Teahouses and Tea Ceremonies

For a more traditional and authentic experience, consider visiting a teahouse or attending a Japanese tea ceremony. Tea has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries, and Kyoto is home to some of the best tea houses and tea ceremony experiences in the country.

Some popular teahouses in Kyoto include:

  • Camellia: This teahouse offers a variety of tea experiences, including a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and a tea tasting.
  • En Tea Ceremony: This teahouse offers a traditional Japanese tea ceremony experience, complete with a kimono-wearing host.
  • Ippodo Tea Co.: This tea shop has been in business for over 300 years and offers a variety of high-quality teas.

Attending a tea ceremony is a great way to experience Japanese culture and learn more about the art of tea. Keep in mind that tea ceremonies can be quite formal, so be sure to dress appropriately and follow the host’s instructions.

No matter what type of dining or drinking experience you’re looking for, Kyoto has something to offer. From izakayas to teahouses, there’s no shortage of delicious food and drink to enjoy in this beautiful city.

Night Tours and Performances


Looking for a unique and exciting way to experience Kyoto at night? Look no further than the city’s night tours and performances! Here are two options to consider:

Kyoto Night Tour

Embark on a guided tour of Kyoto after dark and discover the city’s hidden gems. From illuminated temples to bustling night markets, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. One popular option is the Kyoto Night Tour, which takes you to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Yasaka Shrine. Along the way, you’ll learn about Kyoto’s rich history and culture from your knowledgeable guide.

Minamiza Theatre

For a truly unforgettable evening, head to the Minamiza Theatre for a traditional Japanese performance. This historic theatre has been entertaining audiences for over 400 years and is known for its stunning kabuki shows. With elaborate costumes, intricate makeup, and captivating storytelling, kabuki is a must-see experience for anyone visiting Kyoto. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to secure the best seats!

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just having fun, Kyoto’s night tours and performances have something for everyone. Don’t miss out on these unforgettable experiences!

Shopping at Night


Looking for some retail therapy after a long day of sightseeing in Kyoto? Luckily, there are plenty of options for shopping at night in this vibrant city. Here are two great places to check out:

Nishiki Market

If you’re a foodie, then Nishiki Market is a must-visit destination in Kyoto. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” this bustling market is home to over 100 stalls and restaurants selling all kinds of delicious food-related items and products. From fresh seafood to traditional sweets, you’ll find plenty to tantalise your taste buds here.

But Nishiki Market isn’t just about food – it’s also a great place for window shopping and picking up souvenirs. You’ll find everything from beautiful ceramics and lacquerware to traditional Japanese clothing and accessories. And if you’re looking for something a little more unique, there are also stalls selling handmade crafts and artisanal goods.

Shinkyogoku Shotengai

For a more traditional shopping experience, head to Shinkyogoku Shotengai. This covered shopping arcade is located in the heart of Kyoto and is a great place to explore at night. With over 180 shops selling everything from clothing and accessories to souvenirs and electronics, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.

But Shinkyogoku Shotengai isn’t just about shopping – it’s also a great place to soak up the atmosphere of Kyoto at night. The arcade is beautifully lit up with lanterns and neon signs, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for an evening stroll. And if you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of food stalls and restaurants serving up delicious local cuisine.

Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, delicious food, or just a fun night out, Nishiki Market and Shinkyogoku Shotengai are two great destinations for shopping in Kyoto at night. So why not grab your wallet and head out for a night of retail therapy?

Visiting Temples and Shrines at Night


If you’re looking for a unique and peaceful experience in Kyoto, visiting temples and shrines at night is a must-do activity. The serene atmosphere and the stunning views of the illuminated structures are truly breathtaking. Here are two must-visit temples and shrines to add to your Kyoto itinerary:

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine is a Shinto shrine located at the base of Mount Inari. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates that line the hiking trails up the mountain. Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine at night is a magical experience, as the torii gates are lit up and create a stunning tunnel of orange and red hues.

The shrine is open 24 hours, so you can visit anytime you want. However, it is recommended to visit after sunset to avoid the crowds and to fully enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight or use the flashlight on your phone, as the hiking trails can be dark.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple is a Buddhist temple located in eastern Kyoto. It is famous for its wooden stage that overlooks the city and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Visiting Kiyomizudera Temple at night is a unique experience, as the temple is illuminated and the views of the city at night are simply stunning.

The temple is open until 9 pm during special night openings, which usually occur during the spring and autumn seasons. The temple is also open during the day, but it can get crowded. Visiting at night is a great way to avoid the crowds and to fully enjoy the serene atmosphere.

In conclusion, visiting temples and shrines at night is a unique and peaceful experience that should not be missed during your trip to Kyoto. Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kiyomizudera Temple are two must-visit places that offer stunning views and a serene atmosphere. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the magical moments!

Relaxing in Onsens


If you’re looking for a truly relaxing and authentic Japanese experience, you absolutely have to visit an onsen. Onsens are natural hot springs that are found all over Japan, and they are the perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring Kyoto.

There are many onsens located throughout Kyoto, and each one offers a unique experience. Some onsens are located in the heart of the city, while others are tucked away in the mountains. Some are large and luxurious, while others are small and intimate.

No matter which onsen you choose to visit, you can expect to be greeted with warm hospitality and a serene atmosphere. Most onsens have both indoor and outdoor baths, and many offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Before you enter the bath, you’ll need to follow a few rules. First, you’ll need to remove all of your clothes and put them in a locker. Then, you’ll need to wash your body thoroughly before entering the bath. Once you’re in the bath, you can relax and soak in the warm, mineral-rich water.

Visiting an onsen is not only a great way to relax, but it also has many health benefits. The mineral-rich water is said to help with a variety of ailments, including muscle pain, joint pain, and skin conditions.

Overall, visiting an onsen is a must-do activity when you’re in Kyoto. So, make sure to add it to your itinerary and experience the ultimate relaxation.

Kyoto Nightlife


Kyoto may be known for its serene temples and beautiful gardens, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in nightlife. From traditional izakayas to modern nightclubs, Kyoto offers a range of options for those looking to have some fun after dark.

Pontocho Alley

One of the most popular spots for nightlife in Kyoto is Pontocho Alley. This narrow alleyway is lined with traditional restaurants and bars, many of which have been in business for decades. It’s the perfect place to grab a drink and some food while taking in the atmosphere of old Kyoto.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider checking out one of the many food tours that take you through Pontocho Alley. You’ll get to try a variety of local dishes and drinks while learning about the history and culture of the area.

Karaoke Bars

Karaoke is a popular pastime in Japan, and Kyoto is no exception. There are plenty of karaoke bars throughout the city, ranging from small, intimate venues to large, flashy establishments.

Many karaoke bars in Kyoto offer private rooms, so you can sing your heart out without worrying about embarrassing yourself in front of a crowd. Some even offer costumes and props to help you get into character.

Whether you’re looking to belt out your favorite ballad or just have a fun night out with friends, karaoke bars are a great option for Kyoto nightlife. Just be prepared to stay up late – many karaoke bars in Japan stay open until the early hours of the morning.

Overall, Kyoto may not have the same reputation for nightlife as some other cities in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do after dark. Whether you’re looking for a traditional izakaya, a modern nightclub, or something in between, Kyoto has plenty of options to keep you entertained.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best neighbourhoods to explore at night in Kyoto?

Kyoto has several neighbourhoods that come alive at night. Gion is the most famous and is known for its traditional architecture, tea houses, and geisha performances. Pontocho Alley is another popular neighbourhood with a variety of restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for a more modern atmosphere, head to Kyoto Station where you’ll find shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

What are some non-temple activities to do in Kyoto at night?

Kyoto has plenty of non-temple activities to do at night. Take a stroll along the Kamogawa River, where you can enjoy the views and grab a drink at one of the many outdoor bars. You can also visit the Nishiki Market, which is open until late at night, and try some local street food. For a unique experience, check out the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, which is illuminated at night.

What are the top night tours to take in Kyoto?

There are several night tours to take in Kyoto, depending on your interests. The Gion Night Walk is a popular tour that takes you through the historic streets of Gion and gives you a glimpse into the world of geishas. The Kyoto Night Food Tour is another great option, where you can sample local cuisine and drinks while exploring the city at night.

What are the most popular night markets to visit in Kyoto?

Kyoto has several night markets that are worth visiting. The Nishiki Market is open until late at night and offers a variety of food and souvenirs. The Kyoto Handicraft Center also has a night market that showcases traditional Japanese crafts and goods. For a more modern market experience, check out the Kyoto Station Building, which has a large shopping and dining area that stays open until late at night.

Is one night in Kyoto enough to experience the nightlife?

While one night in Kyoto is better than no nights, it’s not enough to experience all the city has to offer in terms of nightlife. We recommend staying at least two or three nights to fully explore the different neighbourhoods and activities.

What are the must-see night illuminations in Kyoto for 2023?

Kyoto is known for its stunning night illuminations, especially during the winter months. The Arashiyama Hanatouro is a popular event where the bamboo forest and surrounding area are illuminated with lanterns. The Kiyomizudera Temple also has a special illumination event during the winter months. Another must-see is the light-up of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, where the thousands of torii gates are illuminated at night.

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