The evenings in Nara tend to be gentle and refined. If you're staying in Nara, exploring the city at night is a must.

    Although it's not as flashy as Osaka or Kyoto, Nara has its own unique atmosphere. Said to be the birthplace of sake, Nara is dotted with quiet street corner where you can enjoy a fine drink. It's also peppered with superb bars. In fact, Nara's bartenders have been declared among the top 10 bartenders in the world no fewer than 8 times, so perhaps unsurprisingly, the ancient capital of Japan is also a bar-hopper's dream.

    1

    Naramachi

    Walk around the old heart of Nara to find some great bars

    Naramachi is the common name for the old town area in the centre of Nara. Its history dates back to the Nara era (around the year 710), when Nara was the capital of Japan. Even after the capital moved to Kyoto, many Buddhist temples remained here, and Naramachi today is the area around the former precincts of Gango-ji Temple.

    The town is full of tourists during the day, but at night you’ll find cool bars opening up here and there. Why not spend a quiet evening in this ancient city and enjoy some after-dinner drinks?

    Location: Nara City, Nara Prefecture, Japan

    Map
    2

    Nara Centennial Hall

    A multi-purpose hall built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nara City

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Nara Centennial Hall, located in front of JR Nara Station, is the largest multi-purpose hall in Nara Prefecture. The innovative building was designed by world-renowned architect Arata Isozaki, based on the concept of "a ship of culture that nurtures and transmits Nara's culture to the world".

    In addition to the main hall, with capacity for 1,476 people, there are also medium-sized and small halls. These are used for concerts, theatre and art performances both Japanese and international, as well as international conferences, academic meetings and various community-based cultural activities and recitals. This venue has become a landmark of the "new Nara" and a renowned centre for cultural exchange.

    Location: 7-1 Sanjomiyamaecho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 630-8121, Japan

    Phone: +81 (0)742-34-0100

    Map

    photo by 663highland (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    Nara Craft Tour

    Enjoy craft beer on a guided tour

    The Nara Craft Tour is a private guided tour where you'll walk through the heart of Nara City to visit 2 local microbreweries and taste their craft beers.

    At each brewery, you can taste authentic yet modern craft beers with light snacks. The tour takes about 3-4 hours and ends at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) near JR Nara Station. Although the tour concludes with a tasty set of drinks and snacks, staying on to order more after leaving the guide may be another fun way to spend the evening.

    Phone: +81 (0)80-3852-9396

    Map
    4

    Bar Sally

    A hideaway bar with delicious food and drink

    Bar Sally is located in Yamato Koriyama City, which is famous for its goldfish farming. With its warm and cosy interior made from Nara timber, this is a perfect hideaway for grown-ups.

    It was opened in 1978. In addition to a large selection of local sake from Nara (which is said to be the birthplace of sake), there’s also a wide range of craft beers, whiskies and non-alcoholic beverages. The restaurant's speciality is its hayashi curry (hashed meat curry), which won first prize at the Nara Curry Contest. After a night of drinking and chatting, why not finish with this light tomato and fruit-based curry? Or if you’re still feeling it, you can also enjoy karaoke here and sing the night away.

    Location: 137-1 Kitakoriyama-cho, Yamatokoriyama City, Nara Prefecture 639-1160, Japan

    Open: From 7 pm to midnight (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +81 (0)743-55-3001

    Map
    5

    BAR FAMOUS

    A hideaway shot bar that's famous for a reason

    BAR FAMOUS is a 2-minute walk from the north side of Kintetsu Shin-Omiya Station. This little-known shot bar is located on the other side of the tracks, opposite the busy downtown area.

    Choose your favourite drink from a wide selection of liquor, mainly whiskies, and enjoy a lively chat with the entertaining bartender. Spend a pleasant time on the sofas or at a counter seat and watch the evening go by in style.

    Location: 4-12-6 Shibatsujicho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 630-8114, Japan

    Open: From 8 pm to 4 am (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)742-33-9424

    Map
    6

    COTTON CLUB

    A long-running bar with a great atmosphere nestled in a residential area

    COTTON CLUB is a hidden bar located a 6-minute walk from Nara's Shin-Omiya Station. You'll find a relaxed, cosy atmosphere with modern jazz playing in the background.

    It's been established for more than 30 years, and the excellent cocktails prepared by the bartender as well as its atmosphere will easily make you lose track of time. There’s a wide range of original cocktails on offer, and one of the best is a smoothie cocktail made with Nara's fresh strawberries. A selection of non-alcoholic cocktails is also available, so it's definitely worth a try even if you’re not a drinker.

    Location: 4-313-4 Omiyacho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 630-8115, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 1 am (closed on 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month)

    Phone: +81 (0)742-33-0340

    Map
    7

    LAMP BAR

    Taste the cocktails of the world's best bartender

    LAMP BAR is owned by Michito Kaneko, winner of the Grand Prix at the World Class Global Finals for the world's best bartender. In 2017, the bar was chosen as one of "Asia's 50 best bars" at the bar industry's Academy Awards.

    The exclusive drinks and ambience that can only be found here are second to none. There’s no menu, so just tell the bartender what you fancy and they'll create a special cocktail tailored to your own taste.

    Location: 26 Tsunofuricho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 630-8224, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 1 am (irregular holidays)

    Phone: +81 (0)742-24-2200

    Map
    8

    Hot Staff

    A hideaway where you can enjoy food and drinks in a friendly atmosphere

    Hot Staff is a restaurant and bar in Saidaiji. The landlord lived in America for more than 10 years and now offers music and drinks in a homely space filled with American touches.

    Located just a 5-minute walk from the north exit of Yamato-Saidaiji Station, time flows gently here thanks to the warm lighting and music. With counter seating and table seats, you can comfortably spend time here even if you're visiting alone. Live jazz performances by local musicians are held 2 or 3 times a month.

    Location: 2F Imazato Building, 2-18 Saidaiji Honmachi, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 631-0816, Japan

    Open: Weekdays and Saturdays: 7 pm to 1 am, Sundays and holidays: 7 pm to midnight (closed on Thursdays and 3rd Wednesday of the month)

    Phone: +81 (0)742-36-1189

    Map
    9

    Kuramoto Houshuku Nara

    A standing sake bar managed by a historical sake brewery

    Kuramoto Houshuku Nara is a tachinomiya bar (Japanese standing bar) located in front of the entrance of Kintetsu Nara Station. It's under the direct management of the historical sake brewery Nara Toyosawa Shuzo, which delivers sake to many temples and shrines including Todai-ji Temple. The main brand of "Houshuku" sake is available in different varieties, so this is a great place to explore if you're a sake lover.

    There’s also a set menu that offers delicious sake with savoury snacks. Don't miss the unique Kuradashi Nama Sake Tank Junmai Genshu (unprocessed pure rice sake directly from the brewery). You’ll feel like you've been on a sake brewery tour. There’s another branch of this bar at Kintetsu Yamato Saidai-ji Station.

    Location: Nara Kintetsu Building, 28 Higashimuki Minamimachi, Nara City, Nara Prefecture 630-8215, Japan

    Open: Daily from 2 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)742-26-6355

    Map

    Start planning your trip

    Back to top

    Maps