Tokyo Nightlife Guide, 2017 Edition – Let me take you around Tokyo, Japan and show you some of the best things to do in Tokyo at night! As I mention in the Tokyo Nightlife Guide Video, there are a million bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in Tokyo to choose from.
Important Tokyo Nightlife words to know:
Yokocho – Alleyway dining off the side of a main street, but it also refers to the small bars and pubs that are adjoined in rows along these narrow lanes.
Izakaya – The traditional Japanese pubs or Izakaya, which directly translates to “a stay in liquor shop.” Prices at these places are usually more reasonable than at restaurants or fancy bars, so they’re a local favorite for after work drinks and small, almost tapas-style plates.
Tokyo Nightlife Districts:
Here are the most popular nightlife neighborhoods in Tokyo to give you some ideas to plan what to do in Tokyo after dark.
Known to be the most foreign-friendly Tokyo nightlife neighborhood. Home to the Hard Rock Cafe and many other western bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. This will probably be the first place you will go out before they know any better. Here are a few Roppongi bars to check out:
Agave – Cool little basement Mexican bar just off the main street that serves up frozen margaritas, cigars, Mexican beer, and a variety of Tequila. $$
The Public Six – Chill bar with an awesome entrance, which offers hidden TVs, and a wide selection of foreign beer and cocktails. $$$
Hobgoblin – This is a large, British-owned pub, perfect for watching sports and drinking a few pints on a budget. Check their website for events and specials. $
Abbey Road – As the name suggests, it is a Beatles-themed live music venue and bar in Roppongi. $$
R2 – If you’re looking for something more exciting, than R2 is the best Roppongi club for you. $$$
Something to note: R2 is a foreign-friendly bar, which inevitably may attract “working women,” so be aware. If something is too good to be true, just think twice before committing… unless that’s what you’re looking for.
Some other good Tokyo nightlife areas around Roppongi include Azabujuban and Akasaka.
In Akasaka, there is a bar called The Bar code name Mixology that serves up a variety of very interesting cocktails.
In Azabujuban, I went to a high-end hidden little bar called Gen Yamamoto where one man created signature cocktails in a small back alley room. It is expensive, but well worth the unique experience.
A much more local environment than Roppongi, is Ebisu. In particular, Ebisu Yokocho.
Yokocho in Japanese means alleyways off the side of a main street, but it also refers to the small bars and pubs that are adjoined in rows along these narrow lanes. Each of these little taverns specialize in something unique, so its best to bounce around.
Other great Ebisu Bars:
Bar Tram – Awesome old school Absinthe Bar that is dark and cozy. $$$
Buri – Standing Sake bar in Ebisu. Buri is continuously ranked as one of the best Izakayas in the city.
Bar Yaya – Cozy live music bar in Ebisu that has something going on almost every night of the week.
For more information about Tokyo Nightlife in Ebisu, check out 20 Ebisu Bars Not To Miss
Another great Tokyo nightlife district that I don’t cover too much in the video is Nakameguro and Meguro. Centrally located, they are well off the touristy map, and very chill, quiet neighborhoods.
Here are the 10 Best Nakameguro bars according to Yelp.
Famous for the Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya is where many of the biggest nightclubs in Tokyo are. You can also find a million small, quiet, hidden Shibuya bars as well. It’s definitely one of the most touristy areas in town but it’s also a hot spot for young Japanese partiers.
JBS Bar – In here it’s all about the music. One man plays whatever he wants, doesn’t talk much, and might not even allow you in if he doesn’t feel like it. It’s great.
Ishinohana – One word, Oribe. The matcha latte cocktail that best describes this place.
Spring Valley Brewery – A very western-style brewery that serves up an abundance local and foreign beers.
Tokyo Whiskey Library – The best selection of Whiskey anywhere I’ve ever been. I spent one evening at this place tasting a variety of Japanese whiskeys and learned a ton about the Japanese whiskey movement from our waiter.
This place has the best collection of whiskey that I’ve ever seen in my travels, hence the name.
For those that may not be aware, Japan is making a big name for themselves in the world of whiskey and this is a great place to learn all about it.
Rock no Cocoro – my favorite spot in all of Shibuya is a little Rock Bar. It features a tiny little DJ booth, great crew of regulars, and some familiar bar games. If you end up going here based on this video, please respect the atmosphere, its really something special.
Other popular Shibuya Bars are featured in Hub Japan’s 10 Best Shibuya Bars
Now, let’s talk about the mega clubs of Tokyo. Something this video wouldn’t be complete without.
Many of the best nightclubs are in the Shibuya area itself, like WHOM, Harlem, and Club Camelot, but you should check online before visiting for hours, DJs and cover charges.
Important: Many times these mega clubs won’t fill up unless there’s a special event going on, so plan ahead and check their websites if you really want to rage!
See Also: Top 5 Tokyo Nightclubs 2017
One of my most memorable nights, was at the top rated nightclub in Tokyo – AgeHa. To get there you can take a free shuttle right from Shibuya to an area called Shin-Kiba.
AgeHa is one of Asia’s biggest and most diverse event spaces. It is a massive compound with multiple VIP areas, bars, food stalls, huge dance floors, and even a pool outside. On a big night you could party with up to 5,000 people! It’s truly a party seekers playground!
Last but certainly not least is the other massive Tokyo nightlife neighborhood of Shinjuku. Shinjuku is home to Tokyo’s Red Light District, as well as the popular Robot Restaurant, and famous bar area of Golden Gai.
Tokyo’s Red Light District is where you’re sure to find something that fulfills all of your wildest fantasies, from the relatively normal karaoke bars, slot casinos and pay-by-the hour hotels, to full service massage parlors, dominatrix dungeons and what’s called host clubs. Very generally speaking, this is where people pay for the company of women or men.
If this isn’t your scene, head for higher ground in the form of the luxurious Hotel Park Hyatt, which was made famous by Bill and Scarlet in the feature film Lost in Translation.
If this is too high society for you, head back down and into the alleys of Golden Gai.
Golden Gai is famous for its tiny Shinjuku bars that fit anywhere from 5 to 25 people. Each little tavern showcases their own unique theme and allure. For much more information about Golden Gai, check out Rough Guides nice Golden Gai overview including history and proper etiquette.
Golden Gai Bars:
Bar Plastic Model – Retro-style bar with popular records and books from the ’80s and ’90s all over the place.
Albatross – Fancy decor, cozy atmosphere, quality cocktails.
More Golden Gai recommendations can be found here – 6 Best Bars in Shinjuku Golden Gai
The place Anthony Bourdain called “the greatest show on earth,” – The Robot Restaurant of Shinjuku. This place is as cheesy and touristy as it is awesome and confusing. Watch the end of the Tokyo Nightlife Video to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.
If you have any other Tokyo Nightlife recommendations, please leave them in the comments below and I will add them to this guide. Enjoy!!