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

Kyoto group Zahatorte are a genre-defying trio that mixes the sounds of old-world European cafes with an unmistakably Japanese penchant for perfectionism. They will be coming to Australia next month for the first time, and before showing them our own country, we asked them to share with us their nine favorite secret hangouts in their hometown. So before your next trip to Kyoto, don’t leave without this list!

Café Sarasa ・ さ ら さ 西 陣

Sarasa Cafe is one of our favorite cafes in Kyoto. What makes this place extra special is that it was once a public bath, but was registered as a National Cultural Property and reopened as a cafe. We have a live show here every month, it’s a local tradition that has been going on for 16 years now. The the majolica tiles lining the walls are simply spectacular. (Yousuke, cello)

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


This is a concert hall that we in Japan call a “live house”. It is a cozy underground space located on Kiya Machi Street, one of the busiest streets in 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, Kyoto New Building |

Cafe Zanpano

Head to ZANPANO Cafe in Sakyō-ku for a real insight into Kyoto’s unique subcultures. Although this is a small cafe overlooking a railway crossing, the community and local entertainment scene is thriving. The onsite restaurant also serves delicious food! (Yousuke, cello)

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


This place is said to be one of the oldest concert halls in Japan. It is a living house that was founded in a 300 year old sake brewery. It is a very well established local hangout and a great place to hang out, eat, drink and enjoy some great local live music. (Uecco, guitar)

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

Gabor (き っ さ ガ ボ ー ル)

Gabor is a super stylish cafe that could best be described as a reinvented walk-in closet, decorated in the old world Parisian cabaret style. The egg sandwich here is particularly popular and highly recommended. In the evening, the café also turns into a bar. (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 old world underground Japanese cafe known as kissaten. This is one of my favorite cafes, not only because the vibe is great, but also because the cafe is one of the best in town. Longtime shop master Okuno Osamu is also a singer-songwriter. It is definitely a favorite spot for local musicians. (Uecco, guitar)

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

Cafe Gorey

Gorey Café is a vegetarian and vegan cafe and bar. They have delicious coffee, a great selection of wines, beers, and other drinks, plus some of our favorite comfort foods like pasta and curry. Everything is proudly Kyoto origin and the menu changes according to the season. On the second floor of the space there are also shows and workshops. (Tomaru, accordion)

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

Kissa Hisui / Hisui tea room 喫茶 翡翠

This is one of Kyoto’s most famous light coffees. The cafe has a stylish, very retro and old-fashioned appearance, but the interior is super spacious. If you want to experience typical Kyoto slow life with the locals of the city, go here as I’m sure the place is populated with regulars. (Tomaru, accordion)

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

Kafeyojiku ヨ ー ジ ク

It’s actually a Russian-style cafe. Very different from the traditional Japanese and Western style cafes in Kyoto, Kafeyojiku is a place where you can relax, unwind and enjoy delicious Russian food and dessert. (Tomaru, accordion)

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


Do not miss Zahatorte during their tour of Australia next month.

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

Zahatorte (Japan) First Australian Tour
February 6 | Leftys Old Time Music Hall | Brisbane | * Special ‘hajimemashite’ [nice to meet you] FREE evening *
February 8 | Petersham Bowling Club | Sydney
February 10 | Smith’s Alternative | Canberra
February 12 | Northcote Social Club | Melbourne
February 14 | MONA | Hobart | FREE
February 16 | La Grange, Ferme Rosny | Hobart

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