The action doesn't get under way until about 11 pm. Most people planning a night out head to the bar on the last train & stumble home on the first train the next morning. A taxi ride will surely be very expensive unless your destination is close.
There's a concentration of gay/lesbian bars in Shinjuku 2-chome (2 = “ni”). Many of the bars and clubs are for men only, but a few bars allow mixed groups. Ni-chome is probably not the most exciting place to spend your “night-out in Tokyo” in.
Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku was the "seedier " side of town, though it has some fun little drinking spots. A favourite with the locals having a person who knows the area is certainly a huge advantage.
Roppongi is probably the most popular place for tourists to drink & go clubbing. English is widely spoken and the area is full of non-Japanese people. Roppongi has a wide range of bars & clubs that cater to most tastes.
Shibuya has a few of clubs & is very popular with the young local crowd. A night out in Shibuya is bound to be fun!
Good nights out that I have had have been in Shibuya (Izakaya & then Karaoke, at a club, drinking the night away at various bars), Shinjuku (clubs in Kabuki-cho, at a drag-show in ni-chome & again wandering from bar to bar in the alleys around the kabuki-cho area) and at Izakaya's & local bars in any area... as the night wears on you seem to have made so many friends (even though no-one speaks the same language).
I have never liked Roppongi. The area doesn't seem like Japan at all. It developed as a nightspot after the Americans arrived in Japan after Japans surrender in WW2. I am not the best person to comment on this area, but I should restate just how popular it is with most non-Japanese people.
You can go to an Izakaya and then on to Karaoke and have a great night out. This type of night is more Japanese than heading to a club. If you want to try the Japanese night out, give this a go.
Dress Code: Be aware, some clubs may still not allow you in if you have exposed tattoos.
Also many clubs demand photo id... age has nothing to do with this, so take some kind of photo id with you.
You have to go to an Izakaya while in Japan.
An Izakaya is a Japanese version of a pub. Here you can get beer, cocktails and an array of sake as well as snacks that suit all tastes (not only Japanese food).
The prices range depending on which Izakaya you go to. Some of the bigger chains are much cheaper, but you can find some great rustic ones were the prices are still reasonable.
Once the Japanese get drinking they become very boisterous and friendly. If you want to interact, then an izakaya is a good place to go. Many a new friend has been made over asahi beer and bowl of edamame (soy-beans).
We took a group of friends to one and they loved it... they so got into the Japanese swing of things that they started writing Haiku there! Was a great night and the haiku's were pretty funny.
Dress Code: Casual
Great beer for just and only 7 bucks!!!!!!
For those of you that think Japan is an expensive country, I brought here more lumber for your fireplace. What about an imported beer for 5.55555 euros? Expensive? And what about full lunch for the same price? do you see...? Everything depends on where do you set your priorities...
Dress Code: No underwear.
Shinjuku has to be seen to be believed. There is a plethora of activity here for the active night owl ranging from bars to adult shops, pachinko to clubs. And all the while searching for the best spot, you will be blinded by all the neon lights and signs that abound here.
The exterior of the club may be mis-leading to most people as it looks like a large conrete box. Womb is a 4 floor club with banging tunes, 2 chill-out lounges and several bars.
This is not however a place for anyone with epilepsy beacuse of the frequent use of stroboscope lightshows!
Dress Code: Cool and groovy!
What a club! It is probably Japan's biggest nightclub with a massive arena (some of the worls best DJs play there regularly - recent acts: Basement Jaxx, Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia, Louie Vega, Dave Seaman, Ministry of Sound and many more), a smaller room for hiphop. drum n bass etc, an outside reggae pool area, a chillout tent with huge blowup matresses and great visual shows and 4 good-sized bars. If you come to Tokyo you have to go here (its a bit out of the way in Shinkiba but it's definately worth it). Open: 11pm-6am.
Dress Code: No cameras
Minami means "South" but in Osaka it means the south district, which is the city's center for shopping and entertainment. Streets are literally lined with shops and restaurants, health clubs, theatres and just about anything else you can think of. For all its reputation as being expensive, I really didn't think that things here were all that dear. A visit to Osaka really should include the Minami if not to partake in the fun, then simply to walk around since there is really an atmosphere to the throngs and the double parked cabs that really brings Asia and Japan to life.
The photo shows the front of a famous restaurant that specializes in crab, if you can imagine. You can't see the claws moving in the still photo, but they do.
The other major area of Osaka is Kita, which (I think) means north. That area is the center of business but also offers a lot in the way of restaurants if not somuch entertainment.
This is a way around the gaming laws in Japan. Pachinko parlours are everywhere in Japan and you should at least duck into one for the experience. As you walk in through the well sound proofed doors be prepared for the wall of noise and clouds of cigarette smoke!
We had to have a go and it is hard to figure out what was going on, but here is an explanation of how to waste some money:
- Find a free machine
- Pull out a 1,000 Yen note and look confused, one of the attendants will come over, press a button that allows you to feed the note in through a slot at the top
- A load of steel ball bearings will come out of a slot at the bottom.
- There is a knob on the right of the machine that you need to twist to control how high the balls go
- As you start doing well some of the balls will start to collect in the tray at the bottom, we found we needed to feed these back into the game, but you will see the people who have been there for several days have theirs stacked in plastic trays all around them!
- Helpful Japanese people will try to give you some pointers
If your luck is like ours you will walk out with a smile on your face, but a little confused. Apparantly if you win something it will be a prize like a toaster that you are then supposed to cash in next door for money.
A classy hip bar in Roppongi Hills. Famous for attracting a lot of gaijins (foreigners). Hip and trendy interior. Good music from a DJ and a cool crowd. (And yep, it is CROWDED!) Lucky us had the private room booked to celebrate our friend's b-day =).
See good review:
Dress Code: Trendy. Smart. Tidy.
Im not that into jazz music but the evening at SONE Jazz Bar in KOBE was a sure hit!
- Classy interior!
- Great live music! Band was very friendly. And singer said a few words in english every now and then to make me feel part of the crowd! She stayed and chatted with us after the gig!
- Good cocktails (and an english drinklist!)
- Good nibbles.
- We didnt have dinner but they serve food aswell and it did look real yummy. A big table next to us had pizzas and I caught a glimpse of squid on them - interesting!
Dress Code: Neat. Smart.
There are 2 Sent James Clubs in Kyoto. One in Honten and one in Ponto-cho.
I went to the Ponto-cho one with my friend (who is I might add crazy about jazz). But you dont have to be a jazz person to come here. Its a nice, mellow bar. Dark wooden interior. Flickering candlelights to set that jazzy mood..
AND!! They have a terrace overlooking Kamogawa river. Perfect for a hot summers eve!
The drinklist is impressive with many exciting cocktails. A bit pricy. But worth it!
Dress Code: Smart.
I have a funny, foggy memory of singing karaoke in the Roppongi section of Tokyo. Roppingi is a pretty happening place--you'll find restaurants, including the Hard Rock Cafe, shops, and nightclubs. For around 1000 yen a person you can have your own karaoke studio and I think a drink was included! So anyway, the memory makes me laugh because I did a solo of Frank Sinatra's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", and I really cannot sing for beans!
Dress Code: I'm pretty sure there was no dress code.
My motivation for coming to this bar was that it was featured in "Lost in Translation"... actually, the whole Park Hyatt had several scenes in that film, but I digress. I am in no way a big-spender or a high-roller, but I must say that it was fun to treat my friend and myself to a drink (which cost more than my roundtrip train ticket from the airport to Tokyo) in this posh bar. Service, as expected, was impeccable, and the ambience was divine. We left before the live music started and the cover charge went into effect.
Dress Code: It's a nice place, so you want to look good but it definitely is not formal.
Japan nightlife in general is as wild as anyone can imagine. Pubs, clubs, disco's all what you can imagine from traditional to post modern I can only assume that whatever you might wish will be available in Japan, especially in the large business cities.
I was fortunate to be in Japan for two hot events, Pharrell from the Neptunes concert and Japan's Reggae fest in Yoyogi Park. I didn't realize that the Japanese love and sincerely appreciates Reggae music. There are lots of bars and clubs that play reggae music. Can't remember all the clubs we went to in Tokyo but they were all so much fun.
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