The nightlife in Tokyo is one of the best in the world. As soon as it gets dark, the city lights shine and the atmosphere becomes even more vibrant, with people young and old spending their evening at one of the well-known nightlife districts. These most commonly include Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku, however, most districts in Tokyo will offer some sort of nightlife entertainment.
Important Things to Know:
Before we give you the rundown of all the things that Tokyo’s nightlife has to offer, there are a few things you should keep in the back of your mind:
- Most JR and metro trains end service at around midnight and then start again at around five in the morning. If you do stay out after the last train but want to go home before the crack of dawn, you will need to find an alternative transport method.
- Some areas like Kabukicho in Shinjuku have a reputation for being a little seedy at night. In the past, some tourists have had the displeasure of spending their evening at a dodgy bar where they were eventually scammed out of a lot of money. We recommend doing some research beforehand to see what bars you should be avoiding!
- Although Japan is relatively safe, it is best to stay in a group, especially if you plan to drink.
Overall, the most important thing to remember is just to take caution and make a note of the potential risks. Though as previously mentioned, Tokyo has one of the most lively and exciting nightlifes so you will definitely want to experience it at least once!
Enjoy a Cheap and Cheerful Night at one of Tokyo’s many Izakayas
Most people like to begin their night out at an izakaya. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what an izakaya is, it is basically a type of Japanese bar which serves drinks and snacks. They offer a casual setting for people to socialize and enjoy an alcoholic drink. Izakayas are also good for those times when you are feeling a bit peckish but just want something small to eat. On the menu at most, if not all izakayas, you will find foods like yakitori, fried chicken and edamame.
If you are planning to go all out and drink a lot, you can also opt for something known as nomihodai which means ‘all you can drink’. Most izakayas will have this as an option on their menu and you can expect to pay anything between ¥1,500 to ¥3,000 for two hours worth of unlimited drinks.
There are an abundance of izakayas to choose from, with the most popular chains being Torikizoku, Chibachan and Hanbey. You are likely to find at least one of these three chains in any area of Tokyo. People love these chains as they are cheerful and cheap. Many izakayas, such as Torikizoku, even have a system where you order off a tablet making it a great choice for those who are not overly confident ordering in Japanese.
Unsurprisingly, many izakayas are jam packed on a Friday night and weekends. If you want to miss this rush, we suggest heading over before 6pm as this is when the real rush starts.
Sip a Cocktail at one of Tokyo's Fancy Bars
Tokyo is filled with many amazing bars, all with their own unique concepts and cocktails. At most bars you should expect to pay anything from ¥800 and upwards for a drink as well as a cover charge of ¥500.
For those who are looking for somewhere memorable, we recommend trying out Whales of August in Shibuya. This movie-themed bar sells cocktails based on different films including Titanic, Forrest Gump and My Neighbour Totoro. Keep in mind that, the scarier the film is, the stronger the drink will be.
If you want to have a drink whilst admiring the beautiful views of Tokyo, Hacienda del cielo MODERN MEXICANO in Daikanyama is the place to go. This Mexican restaurant offers a solid selection of sweet cocktails and other alcoholic drinks which you can enjoy on their rooftop terrace. An alcoholic drink will cost you anywhere between ¥700 to ¥2000 which is pretty reasonable considering the insane view you get.
Enjoy a Sweet Treat at a Late Night Cafe
If you aren’t keen on drinking and just want somewhere with a bit more of a laid-back atmosphere, we recommend heading to a cafe for a late night sweet treat. Many cafes in Shin-Okubo open until 10pm and offer a wide range of desserts and drinks for you to slowly enjoy. Cafes like BAM BI COFFEE have a homely and cozy feel to them, making them the perfect place to unwind. For those who would like an alcoholic drink, some of these cafes do also sell soju and other cocktails for you to enjoy.
For even more suggestions, take a look at our Six Shin-Okubo Delicious Korean Hidden Sweets and Desserts Places article!
Sing to Your Heart's Content at Karaoke
Did you know that the first ever karaoke machine was made in Japan by inventor and musician Daisuke Inoue in the 1970s? Since then karaoke has become embedded in Japan’s modern culture, with even many salarymen going to sing a song or two after a long day of hard work.
People don’t just love karaoke because of the music but because the karaoke chains give you a private room where you can relax, drink and sing as loud, and off-key, as you want. It is a great place to sit and relax for those who can’t hack a full night at the club and are waiting for the first train. You don’t need to worry about singing in Japanese, as a lot of the songs are actually in English!
Walk down any street and you will find at least one of the big karaoke chains such as KaraokeKan, Big Echo, Karaoke Manekineko, or Uta Hiroba. Prices vary depending on how long you stay and how much you drink. Most places charge you on a half-hour basis and you are required to get at least one soft or alcoholic drink. For peak hours, evenings and weekends, you will pay anywhere between ¥500 to ¥1000 per half-hour. Whereas for off-peak hours, which usually is during the day, this decreases to about ¥200 to ¥400 per half-hour.
Play Games and Take Purikura at the Games Arcades
Just like karaoke, Tokyoites love going to game arcades such as TAITO STATION. Whether it’s testing your luck on one of the many crane machines or having a dance battle on Dance Dance Revolution, there is something that people of all ages will enjoy.
When going to one of these arcades for the first time, we suggest trying out some of the games which are popular in Japan. One is Taiko no Tatsujin in which you play a taiko drum to famous Japanese songs. You should also try taking some photos at a purikura photo booth as they allow you to get creative and customize your own photos with stickers in addition to giving you some interesting beauty filters.
Most games tend to be around ¥100 per go but some can go up to ¥500 so make sure to bring enough cash!
Dance the Night Away at One of the City’s Clubs
Tokyo has a pretty solid club scene, with the most famous clubs being located in Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku. Clubs like WOMB, 1OAK, ageHa, HARLEM and CÉ LA VI TOKYO are just some of the most popular with young Tokyoites. Normally, entry for the majority of these clubs starts at about ¥1,000 and can go up to ¥4,000. That said, if you put yourself down on the guest list, sometimes you can get in for a discounted price or even free.
Many of these clubs have famous artists and guest DJs playing at their venues so we recommend keeping up-to-date with their individual event calendars.
Let us know where you will be heading to first!