What to do in Kyoto after School?
Like any big Japanese city Kyoto has many malls and galleries, notably in Shijo Kawaramachi, Shinkyogoku and around Kyoto Station. As a student you would probably not be willing to spend too much money. For this reason I recommend you avoid the fancy malls. Instead look for the crowded areas, that’s where the cheap shops are. Nakasujicho is one of those places. You will find there clothing and shoe shops, as well as more original things like cuddly toy shops, chopstick shops and Japanese paper shops.
The more modern Kyoto Station shelters a mall spread across a dozen floors. On the top of the building you have access to an observation deck with a view of Kyoto.
You probably know, or will soon know if you are not yet in Japan, about nomikai. Nomikai means “drinking together”. Japanese do nomikai with their coworkers or classmates in the evening. In Kyoto, bars, restaurants and clubs are plentiful. The typical place for going out in groups is Kiyamachi. This is a quarter in Kyoto where you will find the most bars and clubs. At night the place is crowded and the music is loud until morning.
If you prefer local restaurants and typical Japanese bars, walk round Izutsuyacho or Karasuma Avenue. There are plenty of nice bars with a really unique atmosphere. You may need to search quite a while to find the perfect spot because most bars and restaurants are very discreet, sometimes deep into alleys, or on the upper floors of a building. Open your eyes, be patient and you will find amazing places.
If you are looking for new friends try tachigui. These are bars/restaurants that serve typical Japanese food and drinks to customers who you eat standing up. It is pretty cheap and since you do not have chairs, you are free to move and talk to your neighbors. You can find some in Kiyamachi or anywhere in the small streets of downtown Kyoto between Karasuma and Kawaramachi.
But do not forget to check for local bars as well. Many places around universities have cheap dining plans for groups. Ask your senpai, they surely know some places.
We all need to release pressure from school work from times to times. I hope these pieces of advice will help you to relax and spend some good time. As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Kyoto and I am pretty sure I am omitting many others. So the most thrilling part is yet to come: exploring! Kyoto is bigger than one might expect and it hides many secrets. So ride your bike with your friends and go (but do not miss class)!