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With over 53 million tourists annually, Kyoto has been described as “overcrowded” and “packed.” Given the number of visitors, it can be a challenge to find a place where you can slip away for a relaxing drink and a pleasant chat. But The Japan Times has you covered with five distinctive bars where you can cut loose in the “Eternal City.”

Hachimonjiya: Since 1985, this battered bar — located on Kiyamachi-dori, a short walk from the atmospheric Pontocho alley of bars and restaurants — has been a place where Japanese and international writers, artists, musicians, scholars and students can meet to perform, exhibit their work or exchange ideas over a drink. Owner Kai Fusayoshi is a legendary photographer who has been documenting life in Kyoto for five decades. He has published over 40 books of his work and is the recipient of prestigious awards from the governments of both Japan and France. Most of Fusayoshi’s photobooks are stacked on a table near the bar to peruse as you sip on beer, sake, sangria or other cocktails. bit.ly/hachimonjiya

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