Philippe, a barman from France, opened F.S.N.Bar in Kyoto in 2010. At first, it was a little place like a his room located in a small building in a narrow alley. Bustling with many people every night, the bar was totally cozy, receiving people no matter with nationalities and ages. Yes, it was popular among those in the know.
In 2013 he decided to move to current location, opening a bar two or three times bigger, on the ground floor facing the street. Just a few steps away from Shijyo street and Kiyamachi street, it’s now so easy to find that we can recommend it for travelers too. But don’t worry, its nice vibe is kept as before by Philippe. He is friendly, spontaneous and creative: plays guitar and paints pictures in indian ink. He has also decorated the interior with his own artwork.
Philippe has lived in Kyoto for 10 years. As is usual with the foreign people in Japan, he has liked Japanese culture such as Ninja and Samurai from the age of 5. He is also influenced by Japanese films and especially is a fan of Captain Harlock: a manga by Leiji Matsumoto.
What’s the best feature of living in Kyoto?
The nature. With easy access to the mountains like Daimonji, the Kamo river, and many beautiful gardens in temples, Kyoto has a peaceful atmosphere – but also is a city where I can pursue my bar, 90% of my customers are regulars who live in Kyoto. I also like old asian culture and oriental thoughts, that’s why Kyoto is one of the best cities for me.
Your favorite coffee breaks in the city?
Well, I would say Otafuku Coffee, a tiny retro-style cafe that a young owner manages. He is a friend of mine who has started his coffee shop at a flea market which is open on the 15th of every month at Chion-ji Temple, something I’d also participated in before. I prefer small shops, mainly my friend’s, to chain stores. I actually have enough choices in this city without going to stores run by global corporations. This is also a reason that I like Kyoto.
Hidamari is my friend’s cafe too, located in a renovated machiya (old style Japanese house) near Kitano Tenmangu. We can have some quiet time there.
Where do you take people to impress them?
I like Sennyu-ji Temple where I often go for walks. Myoshinji-Temple, Nanzenji-Temple are also good, both are famous as Zen temple.
I recommend regular flea markets in temples, shrines and parks opening once a month: Tenjin-San at Kitano Tenmangu on the 25th, the handmade market at Chion-ji Temple on the 15th and Umekoji park on the first Saturday(except for January and May). You can find souvenirs such as antiques, kimonos, pictures, ceramics and also some handmade cakes and snacks. It’s fun to just look around.
Local dinner/drinks spots at the end of the day?
Fukumatsu is a Japanese restaurant opend by a cook who had worked at Guilo Guilo Paris, a famous fusion Japanese restaurant. A set of one soup and three side dishes at 1500yen as a start, and then you can order a la carte. It has good Japanese dishes with sake at a reasonable price.
Nikomiya Rokken is also good for tourists looking for Japanese restaurants, authentic but not too traditional.
Tadg’s is an irish bar and restaurant with 25 kinds of craft beers.
Anyway, Kyoto is such a small city that we naturally have connections between friends who manage shops, so once you find a nice bar, you don’t need guidebooks anymore.
He moved to a new address as below from 2015. This new space is rather for those who like rock music as he sometimes hold a jam session.
Frontieres Sans Nations
Rokkaku-Terrace bldf.3F 236 Yamazaki-cho,Nakagyo-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto Japan, 604-8032
Closed on Monday
draft beer 600yen