Nestled only one street back from Shijo-dori in Gion Kyoto you will find an amazing piece of Japanese music culture.
Kento's Live House Kyoto (and yes, there are several Kento's spread all over Japan) is a Live Band venue that plays old style Rock and Roll music. You know the kind of venue…. just like the burger joint in Happy Days but with a darker décor: a little bit more Night-Club-esque.
While the Japanese people have long had a love of western style music (especially classic Rock and Roll) the most amazing thing about Kento’s Kyoto is that it is pretty much packed out every night of the week. I’ve personally been there on Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights and the place fills up pretty quickly. So, I’d suggest getting there reasonably early in the night (they open at 6:30 but 8pm is a good time). Otherwise, you may have to wait for a table.
The main band, The Yellow Jackets, is a “house” band. By that I mean that the band and all the marketing around the band is owned by Kento’s. Over time various artists leave and join to make up the members of the band but the concept of the band is owned by the club itself. They also have a second band known as Black Diamond. Currently, The Yellow Jackets dominate the playing schedule – about 5-6 nights a week!
Another excellent aspect of Kento’s Kyoto is that the audience can requests songs. Each table has a list of the entire repertoire the band has available and which band members sing the song. So you can either pick your favourite song or your favourite band member. They also have copies of the song list in English for those who are not able to read Japanese.
The band does reasonably long play sets with only relatively short breaks in between and they are all very friendly and come and chat with the audience after each set of songs. As a lone foreigner in a room full of Japanese people that can not only be very reassuring but it also means that the friendly Japanese Rock and Rollers want to become your friend and you soon find yourself up and dancing on the floor with the long-term patrons.
Just a word of advice for males… If you want to dance you need to wear closed-in shoes (not open ones like sandals, etc.). But, if you find yourself there on a hot summer’s night but still want to get your boogie on, no problems. Kento’s will lend you shoes and socks so you can “Dance the Night Away”.
Now that you have read about the fantastic entertainment and atmosphere of Kento’s you probably want to know how much it all costs.
Like many venues in Japan, Kento’s runs off a cover charge concept. You pay to enter the club and all your basic drinks are covered in that cost – beers and basic spirits. That’s right, as much as you can drink. Some basic nibbles (like popcorn) are also included. You also have to order one plate of food from the menu – but that is reasonably priced (around 500 JPY which is around $5-6) and the Izakaya-style food always tastes great.
The cover charge is 3500 JPY plus a plate of food at around 500 JPY. So you are set for around 4000 JPY (but you can pay more if you want some of the higher end drinks or food).
To top off all the fantastic food, drink, people and music Kento’s Kyoto also are happy to celebrate your special occasion with you. It can be a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary or any event you like. They make a fuss over you, the band will get you up on stage, sing you an appropriate song and they will take your picture while you are there and give you a copy of it.
All-in-all, I really love going to Kento’s. It’s always been a fun and enjoyable night. You should check out the list below for more information and plan a trip to Kento’s next time you are in Kyoto.
Zion Building 2nd Floor
Gion Hanami Koji Shigo Kudaru Hitosujime Nishi Hairu Minamigawa
HIgashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan
京都市東山区祇園花見小路四条下ル一筋目西入ル南側 ジオンビル2Ｆ [ Google Map ]
Hours: 6:30pm to 1:30am 7 days (midnight on Sundays) - sometimes closed for private parties
Cover Charge: 3500 JPY (covers basic beers and spirits - must also purchase one food item)
Food Menu: (from) 500 JPY