Kanazawa NightlifeArea Guide
While the popular Higashi Chaya District and Kenroku-en Garden are good daytime attractions, the hustle and bustle calms as the sun goes down leaving space for other unexpected parts of the city to come alive at night. There are three types of bars that make up the nightlife of Kanazawa and here’s where to go to find the best.
Traditional Bars in Kazue-machi
One of Kanazawa’s most charming qualities is undoubtedly its pretty streets of preserved tea houses; although most frequently visited in the day by tourists in Kanazawa today, they were originally known for their nighttime scene which takes a little more searching today. The lesser-known tea house district of Kazue-machi is a small collection of tea houses found along the Asano river, just a stone’s throw from the Higashi Chaya District. With little to see in the day, this area is often overlooked by visitors to the city, however, the district’s traditional-style bars are a popular drinking spot for locals who sneak behind the sliding doors at night to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at a low table on floor seating.
The labyrinthine quality of Kazue-machi makes it likely you will fall upon a different place at each visit but if you’re not the type to leave your nights out to chance, pick up a map of the district from the Tourist Information Center for information on the dozens of bars in the area. If your visit happens to coincide with the cherry blossom season, don’t miss the bars along the blossom tree-lined Asano river including a personal favorite, Kiku no Shizuku which sports a friendly, local atmosphere thanks to the bar’s long shared table.
Craft beer bars
A night out in Kanazawa is proof that the craft beer trend has officially made it further than the boundaries of the capital with the trendy shop fronts and aromatic flavors of pale ales and dark stouts proving irresistible to any imbiber willing to pay the extra few hundred yen for a bottle.
First up on the Kanazawa craft beer tour is Oriental Brewing whose unique and modern exterior makes it stand out among the neighboring tea houses of the Higashi Chaya District. Owner Makoto Tanaka was inspired by the variation of beers he found on offer during his travels around the world and wanted to bring more choice to the relatively mono-flavor beer culture of Japan. Priding themselves on the careful combining of their home brewed beers with complimentary dishes, notably their electric oven-baked pizzas, this is a great spot for pre-dinner snacks and drinks. Other noteworthy craft beer bars around Kanazawa include Craft Beer Dive Futa’s and Korinbo Jibiruba in the Katamachi area.
Bars and Clubs in Katamachi
We can never get enough of the quaint wooden teahouses that paint the streets of Kanazawa but it is still a welcoming sight to be reunited with the neon lights characteristic of much of modern Japan. The Katamachi district of Kanazawa is one of the most popular drinking spots in town with a whole host of bars, clubs and izakaya restaurants found at every step along the main street and spreading off down the web of backstreets.
For a proper night out, head to BASE which hosts large club events and masters the art of maintaining its local feel with the friendly staff chatting to you over the techno beats. Those looking for a tamer evening should check out one of the smaller bars dotted around the area. Orbital bar has a cozy sociable atmosphere while Kanazawa Music Bar pretty much does what it says on the tin with records lining the walls and the likes of David Bowie and independent Japanese artists coming out of speakers of the bar’s top quality sound system.