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Nara Nightlife

Where to Go at Night in Nara

Nara is less geared for the tourism industry than Tokyo and Kyoto and is not a place for heavy partying or serious drinking. Yet if you look around there are several venues opening up to cater for people who love a late night out. Some of them feature live bands and stay open until the early hours so if you feel like going out dancing or just relaxing in a neighbourhood bar, you will find that Nara has some interesting choices to offer.

The most convenient area to start off is the shopping street near Kintetsu Nara Station as it’s full of restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars. Also, if you visit the old part of Nara called Naramachi Street, you’ll come across a few interesting Japanese-style bars. This is where to meet locals and office staff who go after work for a cool beer, a bowl of noodles and a chat before calling it a day – it’s a perfect opportunity to mingle with them.

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Hot Staff

A local bar/restaurant with an unusual name, Hot Staff must be one of the most active music bars in Nara and offers various kinds of regular live music. Some months they can be very active and organize four – five gigs, each with entrance fees of course. Hot Staff features a variety of drinks and food including salads, appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, rice dishes, and some Tex-Mex cuisine.

According to the bar – “The name Hot Staff might remind you of some other kind of place, however, we're just a normal type of restaurant. It's a kind of Japanese joke.” So give them a try or call for the latest music schedule when you are in town.

  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 18:00 – 01:00, Sun & Holidays 18:00 – 24:00, closed on Thursdays  
  • Location: At Saidaiji in Nara (about a four-minute walk from Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station, west of north entrance (direction Gakuenmae Osaka).
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 236 1189
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Wembley Crown

This is a British country-style pub with more than 30 choices of local and import beers. Be entertained by live sports, from football to rugby on TV while enjoying the usual pub food at Wembley Crown including toasted sandwiches, bagels, pasta of the day, roast of the week, cottage pie, chicken curry, chili con carne and more. Happy hour runs nightly from 17:00 – 20:00. Thursday is ladies’ night.

  • Opening Hours: 17:30 – 23:00, closed on Mondays
  • Location: 2F Nishimura Building, 14 Mochiidonochou – a three-minute walk from the north entrance of Mochiidono Centre Arcade, on the east side
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 226 7741
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Bar Cinema

One of the latest party scenes in Nara featuring a dance floor, DJs, snacks and drinks. It usually gets busy after 21:00 when the house DJs start up his/her tunes.

  • Opening Hours: 18:00 – 03:00 and 05:00 on special party nights mostly on Fri & Sat.
  • Location: In the Higashimuki Shopping Arcade, on the basement floor of Nara Kanko Kaikan Building.
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 223 0753
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Tenpyo Ryokan

This is not really your typical Japanese ryokan as it is located in Higashimuki Shopping Arcade. The plus side is that it is near everything, from shops to restaurants and many Nara landmarks. Tenpyo’s facilities include a very traditional Japanese-style karaoke room fit for those who want to experience ‘real’ karaoke – whatever that means... They also have a bar on the first floor where you can stop by for a drink or more.

  • Opening Hours: Daily
  • Location: Inside Higashimuki Shopping Street, Nara city centre (in front of Kintetsu Nara Station)
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 222 0551
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Yougendo Dining Bar

Part of a small and charming inn called Yougendo run by a young English-Japanese couple, the Dining Bar offers Mediterranean food and a variety of drinks including Edel-Pils Pilsner, draught Guinness and fine cocktails. Hanging out here can be a lot of fun, partly because of Yougendo’s friendly staff (many speak English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Tagalog). Through they are not calling themselves a ryokan but they have similarity of ryokan like beautiful Japanese garden and interesting old decorative items display everywhere in a traditional house (over a century old).

  • Opening Hours: 18:00 - 23:30, closed on Mondays
  • Location: In Oji Town, Nara (about a 15-minute ride on train from JR Nara on the Yamatoji line)
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 532 0514
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Harushika Spring Deer Sake Brewery

It is hard to separate Nara from sake as this city is considered the birthplace and heartland of the brew, with a history dating back to the eighth century when Nara was still Japan’s capital. Harushika Spring Deer Sake Brewery (named after the deer that roam the city’s park) is probably the most recommended choice for sake tasting. At the brewery a five-sake tasting course starts from about 400 yen.

  • Location: 27-4 Imamikado-cho (north of Jurinin Temple about a 15-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or bus to Fukuchiin-machi)
  • Tel: +81 (0)74 223 2255
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Kuramoto Hoshuku

Directly operated by a local brewery Nara Toyosawa, Kuramoto Hoshuku is also popular for sake tasting. Visitors will notice regular customers dropping by after work for some light snacks, sake or beer before heading home, especially those using Kintetsu Nara Station.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 11:30 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 21:00
  • Location: 8 Higashimuki, Nara Kintetsu Building B1F
  • Tel: +81 (0) 74 226 2625
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