An insider’s guide to Kyoto’s best secret hangouts, with Japanese band Zahatorte

Kyoto band Zahatorte are a genre-defying trio who blend old-world European cafe sounds with the undeniably Japanese penchant for perfectionism. They’ll be coming to Australia next month for the first time, and before we show them our own country, we asked them to share with us their nine favourite secret hangouts in their hometown. So before your next trip to Kyoto, don’t go without this list!

Cafe Sarasa・さらさ西陣

Cafe Sarasa is one of our favourite cafes in Kyoto. What makes this place extra special is that it was once a bathhouse, but was registered a national cultural property and reopened as a cafe. We have a regular live show here every single month, it’s a local tradition that’s been going for 16 years now. The majolica tiles that line the walls are nothing short of spectacular. (Yousuke, Cello)

Address: 11-1 Shiino Toyonomorimachi, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi |


This is a music venue, which we in Japan refer to as a ‘live house.’ It’s a cozy underground space located on Kiya Machi Street, one of the busier streets of Kyoto. The venue hosts a variety of live performances featuring local and international audiences, making it an excellent place for rich cultural exchange. (Yousuke, Cello)

Address: 181-2 Takigi-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto 3F, New Kyoto Building |

Cafe Zanpano

Head to Cafe ZANPANO in Sakyō-ku for a real snapshot of Kyoto’s unique subcultures. Although it is a small cafe that faces onto a railroad crossing, the community and the local live performance scene here is thriving. The on-site restaurant also serves delicious food! (Yousuke, Cello)

Address: Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku Tanaka-ichinanocho-cho 81 Miyagawa Building 2F (Eizan Train / former Tanaka station soon) |

Coffee House 拾得(じっとく)

It’s said that this place is one of the oldest live venues in Japan. It’s a live house that was founded inside a 300-year-old sake brewery. It’s a very well-established local hangout and a great place to hang out, eating, drink, and enjoy excellent local live music. (Uecco, guitar)

Address: Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto-shi, Kamigyo-ku Omiya Tousen Shimodori sells down Ryuya-machi 815 |

Gabor 喫茶 (きっさガボール)

Gabor is a super elegant cafe that could best be described as a re-imagined a dressing room, decked out in old world Parisian cabaret style. The egg sandwich here is particularly popular and highly recommended. In the evening the cafe transforms into a bar too. (Uecco, guitar)

Address: Fujita Building B1F 103 Nakajima cho Nishijimacho, Sanjo Kiya cho Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8004

Rokuyosha 六曜社(ろくようしゃ)

Rokuyosha is an underground, old-world Japanese coffee house known as a kissaten. It’s one of my favourite coffee shops, not only because the ambience is great, but the coffee is some of the best in the city. Okuno Osamu, the long-serving master of the shop is also a singer-songwriter. It’s definitely a hangout favored by local musicians. (Uecco, guitar)

Address: 40-1 Ogachi cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto prefecture 604-8031 (Kawaramachi-dori).

Gorey Cafe

Gorey Cafe is a vegetarian and vegan cafe and bar. They have delicious coffee, a great selection of wine, beer and other beverages as well as some of our favourite comfort foods like pasta and curry. Everything is proudly Kyoto sourced and the menu changes depending on what’s best in season. On the second floor of the space, there are live shows and workshops too. (Tomaru, accordion)

Address: 82-1 Nishida-machi, Jodoji temple, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 606-8417

Kissa Hisui / Tea Hisui Room 喫茶 翡翠

This is one of Kyoto’s most well-established light snack cafes. The cafe has a very retro, old-fashioned stylish appearance, but inside is super spacious. If you want to experience typical slow Kyoto life with the city’s local population, head here because I am convinced that the the place is populated by regulars. (Tomaru, accordion)

Address: Shinano Nishigarada-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi 603-8165 -412

Kafeyojiku カフェ ヨージク

This is actually a Russian style cafe. Very different from the traditional Japanese and western style cafes in Kyoto, Kafeyojiku is a place where you can kick back, relax and enjoy delicious Russian cuisine and dessert. (Tomaru, accordion)

Address: Trees Bldg 2F Uchigawara Shogakara-cho, Kita Ward, Kyoto City 603-8063 |


Don’t miss Zahatorte when they tour Australia next month.

Here are the dates, and you can find out more about the shows HERE.

Zahatorte (Japan) Debut Australian Tour
Feb 6 | Leftys Old Time Music Hall | Brisbane | *Special ‘hajimemashite’ [nice to meet you] FREE party*
Feb 8 | Petersham Bowling Club | Sydney
Feb 10 | Smith’s Alternative | Canberra
Feb 12 | Northcote Social Club | Melbourne
Feb 14 | MONA | Hobart | FREE
Feb 16 | The Barn, Rosny Farm | Hobart