Tokyo’s nightlife is a whole new experience, unlike any other. You might have visited the temples and castles or shopped for the latest street fashion, but once the sun sets, Tokyo takes on a different persona. The city transforms itself into a haven or an escape for tired salarymen and tourists alike.
Tokyo, the top destination for most
You might have heard of the famous Piss Alley or Robot Restaurant in Tokyo’s Red Light District, but there are a few more cities with their unique nightlife offerings worth mentioning.
Within Shinjuku, there lies a district that that never sleeps. From rowdy izakayas featuring unfathomable skewers and over 300 bars in one section alone where it’s close to impossible to get a seat unless you’re a regular (and Japanese) to the countless love hotels and sex parlors with the ability to quench your wildest sensual desires.
Shinjuku, specifically Kabukichō, is all about letting loose without style. Unleash your inner crazy and enjoy the night, no holds barred.
This nightlife destination is for those younger at heart and want to do more than eat and drink. It has a wide variety of clubs, karaoke bars and arcades to cater to those with more energy.
Tap your inner reveler at Roppongi’s numerous clubs. This is the place to rave and dance your heart out. Whether you’re into jazz, hip-hop, or EDM, chances are you will find the genre you’re in the mood for at one of Roppongi’s clubs.
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As we’ve mentioned, Tokyo caters to all preferences; and if modern clubbing isn’t your style, then head on over to Shimokitazawa’s bohemian community for some vintage shopping and indie entertainment spots.
A high-fashion shopping district at day, a premium entertainment district by night - this is Ginza. If you’re up for some fine-dining experience topped with opulent nightclubs and chic bars, then Ginza is your go-to place. After all, we all need the excuse to dress up and live a night like the rich and famous.
Tokyo nightlife is all about unwinding and having fun, where you will experience the serious and taciturn personality of locals turn into something loud and boisterous. Their booming voices and loud laughter on the way home is hard to miss.
What is the nightlife culture there?
On top of the neon lights, the out-of-this-world concoctions, and technologically-advanced sound systems, one has got to embrace the culture of the Tokyo nightlife to get the most of the experience. The most essential ingredient to a fantastic night is willingness. Willingness to let go of inhibitions and tatamae (the social façade of public appearance) and harness one’s inner childlike curiosity.
Here’s the nightlife culture summed up in one paragraph: It’s completely acceptable (and legal) to drink on the streets, just don’t eat. You don’t have to worry about being loud and calling for the bartender’s attention. There’s no need to tip anyone so you can use your pocket money for another round instead. And lastly, you’re left with a choice of going home abruptly to not miss your last train, take a ridiculously expensive taxi home, or party all night long until your first train the next morning (the last option is the bestseller among the party people).
Any dress code for Tokyo nightlife?
The attire for Tokyo’s nightlife varies depending on the destination. For example, you would need more fancy clothing to enter a luxurious nightclub at Ginza but could dress down at Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. Perhaps the one constant factor you need to keep in mind is no shorts and no tattoos. The first is advised as a precautionary measure if you want to play it safe and be able to get into any club.
The second is the norm of Japan’s culture. It could stem from the history of the yakuza long ingrained in society, or it could be for some other unexplainable reason; either way, tattoos must be covered before being allowed entrance for almost all of Japan’s clubs.
10 Things Not to Miss in Tokyo nightlife
Here's a rundown of the ten things not to miss in Tokyo nightlife for the first-timer.
You can’t say you’ve experienced the nightlife unless you’ve been to one of the nightclubs in Japan. One of Asia’s top nightclubbing destinations, alongside Illuzion Patong in Phuket and OMNI in Taiwan, is club ageHa in Tokyo.
For the past 17 years since the bar’s opening, ageHa has been hosting one of a kind events. With its four different dance floors, three large bars and VIP sections, an outdoor pool, a food court, and even a park area- ageHa is classified as one of the biggest clubs in Tokyo. The massive size of ageHa, alongside its unique sound and lighting system, attracts over 500,000 people in a year.
The most important rule is to have fun. And, oh, don’t forget to bring a photo ID as well.
Ready to continue your nightlife experience in Tokyo? Let’s head on over to Shinjuku’s Golden Gai.
Golden Gai, located in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, is a mesh of six narrow alleys that is famed for its 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs, and eateries. Not only known for its nightlife, Golden Gai also holds some architectural importance as it is a mirror into Tokyo before the “economic miracle.” The extremely narrow lanes and the tiny-two story buildings that make up the Golden Gai is unique to this area as the neighboring areas have already been developed to make way for wider roads and larger structures.
One thing to keep in mind before heading over to Golden Gai is that many of the bars are regulars-only bars, which means that if you are not a regular or introduced by a patron of that bar, well, you won’t be able to enter. However, with the influx of foreigners heading to Golden Gai to satiate their Instagram posts, many bars have been changing their ways. A popular choice for foreigners is the luxurious Albatross, a classy fusion of Edwardian and Gothic style.
Arcades and karaoke
Walking around Tokyo, one is bound to see an arcade with their flashing lights and loud music trying to get you to spend your last 100 yen on a plushie you don’t even need or a karaoke bar plastered with their humongous signs telling you about their latest promotions.
For arcades in Japan, one of the most prolific is Taito Station, a leading game center in Japan. Taito is known for its many floors each filled with crane games, arcade and video games. Check the map out and head on over to the floor with your type of game.
Karaoke Kan, a well-known karaoke chain in Tokyo, is one of the main go-to for a night out with friends, coworkers, and the like. Offering all-you-can-drink deals until dawn, Karaoke Kan quickly became popular with everyone looking for a place to let loose, get drunk, and sing your favorite song without caring about how you sound like.
Another popular karaoke bar is a BIG ECHO. This karaoke bar is foreigner-friendly and has support for English, Chinese, and Korean. The karaoke machines are able to change language, so you need to worry about searching for your favorite song. BIG ECHO also offers all-you-can-drink deals with some typical Japanese food.
If you search for tourist attractions in Tokyo, Robot Restaurant will definitely pop up in one of those queries. This restaurant is one of a kind and is a go-to for travelers wanting to get the most of their nightlife experience in Japan.
Located in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Robot Restaurant can be easily spotted a mile away. The flashing lights, blaring music, and robotic creatures you’ll meet at the entrance and in the restaurant itself make a unique entertainment experience, unlike any other. The show runs for approximately 90 minutes, and it is advised to head to the location or book your ticket in advance as this place is jam-packed with people.
If you are fond of attending live shows and happen to find yourself in Tokyo, be sure to check out Club Quattro.
Since its humble opening in 1988, Club Quattro has been bringing quality live music on stage for its viewers. In Japan, Club Quattro has solidified the culture of listening to “good music” and “good live music.”
Some foreign artists that have performed here are Nirvana, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Norah Jones.
Club Quattro’s website can also be accessed in English.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
When it comes to neon lights, crazy costumes, interesting themes partnered with peculiar décor, Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku is your place. Next to Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant in craziness, Kawaii Monster is a one-of-a-kind experience.
The themed cafe is made up of different zones, each one of them trippy in their own way. Customers are advised to take a certain number of drinks before entering a zone; it adds to the “experience.”
The Kawaii Monster Cafe attracts different types of people depending on the time of day. The events held during the evening are more for the mature audience and can be considered a night club.
Love Hotel Hill
After your long night out drinking and singing, if you don’t already have a hostel or hotel booked for that night and you want to get your groove on with your partner, you might want to consider heading to a love hotel.
In Shibuya, right behind the shopping store Shibuya 109, there is a long uphill road situated with love hotels in every corner. As the love hotels are on a slope, this area has received the title of Love Hotel Hill.
If you are looking to check-off your touristy checklist of things to do in Tokyo, go ahead and book a love hotel.
One of the beautiful things about Japan is the temples and shrines that you can find wherever you go. You look left, and you see a ten-story building, and then you look right, and there’s a shrine. This contrast makes Japan beautiful.
Looking for a night stroll that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another time era and back to the time of samurais and geishas? Well, Sensoji Temple is the place for you.
Sensoji Temple, also called as Asakusa Kannon Temple, is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. Sensoji is known for its shopping street, Nakamise. Tourists frequent this area to buy souvenirs.
In the evening, the temple takes on a whole new persona. The lights bring to life an overall unique experience that you can not see during the day. Sensoji is worth your time if you are in Asakusa and happen to find yourself a couple of free hours to spare.
Book & Beer
If two of your favorite things to do are to read and to drink, Book & Beer is the perfect getaway for you.
Book & Beer is located in Shimokitazawa, the hip part of Tokyo. In this bookstore, one can enjoy a cold beer (and other drinks) while browsing the myriad of books the store has to offer.
Head on over to Book & Beer for that cozy bookstore experience with, of course, a beer in hand.
Tokyo Nightlife is far from boring. The great thing about the nightlife in Tokyo is the numerous activities you can choose to do. Up for a crazy night in a themed robot restaurant or maybe a more mature night at a love hotel? Tokyo has got them all for you.
Make sure to not miss out on Tokyo’s nightlife and have a crazy night you will remember forever.