Tokyo

I will write this article about the night life in Tokyo. Tokyo Nightlife / Entertainment Life and Tokyo in Tokyo at night.

By day, Tokyo is arguably one of the least attractive cities in the world. Come dusk, however, the drabness fades and the city blossoms into a profusion of giant neon lights and paper lanterns, and its streets fill with millions of overworked Japanese out to have a good time. If you ask me, Tokyo at night is one of the craziest cities in the world, a city that never seems to sleep. Entertainment districts are as crowded at 3am as they are at 10pm, and many places stay open until the subways start running after 5am. Whether it’s jazz, reggae, gay bars, sex shows, dance clubs, mania, or madness you’re searching for, Tokyo has them all.

Getting to Know the Scene – Tokyo has no one center of nighttime activity. There are many nightspots spread throughout the city, each with its own atmosphere, price range, and clientele. Most famous are probably Ginza, Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku, and Roppongi. Before visiting any of the locales listed in this section, be sure to walk around the neighborhoods and absorb the atmosphere. The streets will be crowded, the neon lights will be overwhelming, and you never know what you might discover on your own.

Although there are many bars, discos, and clubs packed with young Japanese of both sexes, nightlife in Japan for the older generations is still pretty much a man’s domain, just as it has been for centuries. At the high end of this domain are the geisha bars, where highly trained women entertain by playing traditional Japanese instruments, singing, and holding witty conversations — and nothing more risqué than that. Such places are located mainly in Kyoto and, generally speaking, are both outrageously expensive and closed to outsiders. As a foreigner, you’ll have little opportunity to visit a geisha bar unless you’re invited by a business associate.

All Japanese cities, however, have so-called hostess bars; in Tokyo, these are concentrated in Ginza, Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Akasaka. Hostess bars in various forms have been a part of Japanese society for centuries. A woman will sit at your table, talk to you, pour your drinks, listen to your problems, and boost your ego. You buy her drinks as well, which is one reason the tab can be so high. Most of you will probably find the visit to one not worth the price, as the hostesses usually speak Japanese only, but such places provide Japanese males with sympathetic ears and the chance to escape the worlds of both work and family. Men usually have a favorite hostess bar, often a small place with just enough room for regular customers. The more exclusive hostess bars welcome only those with an introduction.

The most popular nightlife spots are drinking establishments, where most office workers, students, and expatriates go for an evening out. These places include Western-style bars, most commonly found in Roppongi, as well as Japanese-style watering holes, called nomi-ya. Yakitori-ya, bars that serve yakitori and other snacks, are included in this group. Dancing and live-music venues are also hugely popular with young Tokyoites. At the low end of the spectrum are topless bars, erotic dance clubs (including those that employ Western dancers), sex shows, and massage parlors, with the largest concentration of such places in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho district.

Extra Charges & Taxes – One more thing you should be aware of is the “table charge” imposed on customers by some bars (especially nomiya) and many cocktail lounges. Included in the table charge is usually a small appetizer — maybe nuts, chips, or a vegetable; for this reason, some locales call it an otsumami, or snack charge. At any rate, the charge is usually between ¥300 and ¥500 per person. Some establishments levy a table charge only after a certain time in the evening; others may add it only if you don’t order food from the menu. If you’re not sure and it matters to you, be sure to ask before you order anything. Remember, too, that there’s a 5% consumption tax, though most menus already include it in their prices. Some higher-end establishments, especially nightclubs, hostess bars, and dance clubs, will add a service charge ranging anywhere from 10% to 20%.

Finding Out What’s On – Keep an eye out for Metropolis (http://metropolis.co.jp), a free weekly that carries a nightlife section covering concerts, theaters, and events and is available at bars, restaurants, and other venues around town. The Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri also have entertainment sections.

Getting Tickets – If you’re staying in a higher-end hotel, the concierge or guest-relations manager can usually get tickets for you. Otherwise, you can head to the theater or hall itself. An easier way is to go through one of many ticket services available such as Ticket PIA, which has outlets on the first floor of the Sony Building in the Ginza, the Isetan department store annex in Shinjuku, and many other locations in Tokyo; ask your hotel concierge for the one nearest you.

Club Feria – Roppongi
Feria is a interesting ‘nightlife complex’ comprised of five floors including two bars, a restaurant area and a club with a performance stage. The interior is well decorated and stylized toward foreign visitors. One entrance fee covers all floors. Be sure to check before attending as some nights are tailored toward VIP parties and you may find one or two of the bars off limits.

Gaijin level 3/3 | Electro, Dance, HipHop

The five floors in Feria are divided into B1F – Music Lounge (from 10:00pm), 1F – Brasserie (from 6:00pm), 2F – Wine Cave (from 6:00pm), 3f – Crystal lounge (from 10:00pm), 4F – Terrace and Bar (from 10:00pm).

There is a dress code in Feria, no casual summer wear, that includes shorts sandals etc) Entrace is strictly 20 and over so bring your ID.

Genre
Primarily Electro, Dance and HipHop, Playing different styles for different events. Best to check the official club Feria website to see if there is a specific genre event on.

Crowd
A lot of foreigners, about a 50/50 split with Japanese, a little more mature and less likely to cause trouble, the dress code helps too.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for club Feria.

AgeHa – Shin-Kiba
Ageha is located near shin-kiba, It is quite a way out of Tokyo however despite its location its massive spaces, great sound system and constant stream of big name guests have kept Ageha near the top of every tokyo clubbers to-do list.

Gaijin level 1/3 | Trance, Electro, Techno

Ageha consists of multiple levels, multiple floors an outside patio and a pool. Don’t turn up without checking the official site, due to its large size it is usually used for events on Friday and Saturday nights. Dress code is fairly open at ageHa, but leave your shorts / sandals behind.

Genre
This nightclub plays primarily Trance, Techno and Electro, Playing different styles on different levels. Due to the club being used heavily for events the music can change quite a bit, there has been everything from big names like Paul Van-Dyke through to break-beat and reggae nights. Best to check the official website to see if there is a specific genre event on.

Crowd
Mostly Japanese, quite friendly and chatty outside. Word is the staff can be a little up / down in quality and manners.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for AgeHa – Shin-Kiba

Womb – Shibuya
Club Overview
Womb, located in Shibuya is one of the largest clubs in Tokyo. Boasting 4 floors with 4 bars to match, massively high ceilings, the biggest mirror ball in the world and a top class laser and sound system. Strictly over 20′s with photo ID.

Gaijin level 2/3 | Techno, House, Electro.

Big names to have played Womb include Ken Ishii, 2manydjs, The Chemical Brothers, John Digweed, Danny Howells, Miss Kittin, Sasha, Deep Dish, Richie Hawtin, Shibachoff, Sven Väth, Paul Oakenfold, Steve Aoki, and Muscles (Live).

Genre
Primarily Techno with regular House, Electro and Breakbeat nights. Best to check the official website.

Crowd
Mixed, varies night to night. Always dancing.

Club Atom – Shibuya
Club Overview
Club Atom is a three floor club located close to the west exit of Shibuya station. The club is not well know with foreigners but it is currently doing great with the 20-25yo Japanese crowd. Luckily for visitors the bartenders (that we know of) speak some English.

Gaijin level 1/3 | HipHop, Trance, Psychedelic

Club Atom’s three floors are 4F – Psychedelic + Bar, 5F – Main floor, playing the main event. (normally techno) 6F – HipHop floor and lounge.

The dress code is generally business casual, however it will change to match the style of the event playing. ID will be checked at the door, 20+

Genre
Club Atom plays HipHop, Trance and Psychedelic. Club Atom holds a large number of events, however due to the multi floored nature even if the main event is not your thing you can always find music you like. If you are interested in the events check out the official events page.

Crowd
Primarily Japanese, always energetic and quite busy after midnight. The club starts filling early though due to a happy hour before midnight that affects entry and drink prices.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for Club Atom, Shibuya.

Vanity Lounge
Party venue / Restaurant / Lounge Vanity is a fairly recent venue near Roppongi station. In the short time it has been open it has attracted quite a few big name guests for after parties and some great DJ’s too, most likely due to its connections with fashion tv and F.bar. Girls always enter free and staff are generally OK with English.

Gaijin level 3/3 | Charts, RnB

Vanity is a fairly large single floor venue which is a restaurant and bar by day and a lounge after 11pm, It’s a great party venue however quite a bit of the available space is lost to VIP areas. Please note there is a strict dress code (if you are a guy) so best dress up.

Genre
As Vanity is primarily hosting events the genre can change, generally charts and RnB. Best to check the official schedule to check what will be playing.

Crowd
Heaps of foreigners and foreign guests. If you are looking for the ‘Japanese experience’ steer clear of Vanity. Also the crowd tends to be a little older here.

Events / Nights
There is always a guest or gogo dancers going on at Vanity Lounge, Best to check the official schedule.

Club Camelot Shibuya
Club Camelot is located about 500m north of Shibuya station. Camelot is a mid sized club however due to a sparse interior can still hold quite a few people. Club Camelot is catered toward Gaijin and this is reflected in the people you will find there.
Gaijin level 3/3 | Charts, House, HipHop

The interior of Club Camelot is fairly bare, You won’t find a lounge or many couches it is all dance floor and bars. The crowd here is friendly but not too trendy, you will find a lot of foreigners and Japanese mixed most of whom you wouldn’t go out of your way to meet. Doors open at 9pm on weekends and 10pm on weeknights.

Genre

Three floors, Charts/Event floor, HipHop floor and House floor.

Crowd
Mostly Foreign, friendly and not pretentious.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for club Camelot Shibuya.

Club Muse – Nishi Azabu
Muse is a medium sized club in Nishi Azabu (accessible from Roppongi) It features two floors and a VIP floor and some very interesting interior decoration which gives it a kind of ‘cave’ feeling. Generally cheap and friendly. Two bars, two dance floors karaoke, darts and pool means there is something for everyone.

Gaijin level 2/3 | Charts, Dance, HipHop

Opens 9pm weekdays, 10pm Sat and 8pm sun.

There is a dress code in Muse, no shorts no sandals, Girls seem to enter wearing anything. Entrance is strictly 20 and over so bring your ID.

Genre
Two floors two genres, generally hip-hop or dance on one floor and charts on the other.

Crowd
Quite a few foreigners, a little more tame than the usual Roppongi crowd.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for club Muse.

Club Pure – Shibuya
Club Overview
Club Pure is fairly young in the Tokyo scene. Club Pure opened its doors to the hip Shibuya crowd in early 2007 and had recently renamed to Xanadu. This nightclub is very popular with foreigners and you can get by speaking only English, Fri and Sat nights all you can drink (Nomihodai)

Gaijin level 2/3 | Hip-Hop, Dance, Remixes.

Genre
Primarily Hip-Hop, Dance and Dance remixes on select nights. See the Pure homepage (under links) for more details.

Crowd
Fairly hight ratio of foreigners for a Shibuya club, doesn’t warm up until late ~ arrive around midnight.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for Club Pure / Xanadu

Alife – Roppongi
Alife is a club located in Roppongi. It is fairly large and well known. The first floor is a cafe, lounge on the second and a club / dance floor up top. Age range is 23+ girls enter free.

Gaijin level 1/3 | Trance, Hip-Hop, R&B.

Note:
A-life has had some licencing trouble recently and it’s owner was arrested. It is not licenced as a club, only a bar/cafe (!) so there will be a stop on dancing.

Alife tends to get going around midnight and a little crowded thereafter on Friday / Saturday nights. Dress code is, well practically anything for women and no shorts / sandals for boys, you will get in with jeans on however.

Genre
Primarily Trance, RnB and Hip Hop, Playing different styles on different levels. Best to check the official website to see if there is a specific genre event on.

Crowd
Mostly Japanese, lots of females around midnight. can turn a little male heavy after last train.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for Alife Roppongi.

Club Harlem – Shibuya
Club Overview
Club Harlem is located about 500m west of Shibuya station. Harlem has been a staple of the Tokyo hip-hop scene for some time and regularly plays host to big name local and international guests. Harlem is a mid sized 2 floor club with an attached (3rd floor) cafe styled area. Club Harlem is catered toward a mix of foreigners and Japanese this is reflected in the people you will find there.
Gaijin level 3/3 | Charts, House, HipHop

Genre

Two floors, used simultaneously for events or Hip-Hop.

Crowd
Lots of foreigners, friendly and not pretentious.

Events / Nights
We have not been notified of any events / special nights for club Harlem Shibuya.

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