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VANILLA: Dancing, Diversity, Awesome People, Hot Girls!!!
I was part of a 2 week excursion to Japan as the culmination of a class that I participated in at my University in Philadelphia, USA. We traveled to Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Shodoshima Island, Meiyajima Island, and of course, Tokyo.
We stayed at a small hostel in Azabu Juban (right next to Roppongi). My group consisted of about 15 students (several of whom are international students from such countrries as Ghana and the Dominican Republic).
Our first night out, the hostel manager walked us to Roppongi. He said we wouldn't have a problem finding anything we could possibly want. I told him that I felt like dancing with cute Japanese girls, and he walked us to Vanilla, nestled in a small alleyway. Just look for the guy in the suit and tie out front - if you're a foreigner he will give you a 1000 yen discount coupon (as opposed to the typical 3000 yen cover). The 1000 yen included 2 drink coupons (at 500 yen each, it is esentially free admission).
Being a 6 foot tall white dude... well, I guess it went this way for my whole group of 'gaijin' - no pat down, no card-checking...
Once up the stairs, there were lockers to the left and a bar/dancefloor to the right. It was playing rap/R&B type stuff. The floor was pretty crowded, as well as the 'seating area' behind it. There were too many people to even notice it, but on another night spent at Roppongi, I discovered another huge room behind this area. If you follow the hallway around, theres another big bar with tons of tables and chairs, as well as another enourmous dancefloor. The DJ is spinning hip-hop/reggae/rap type music. This is where I saw some of the more "ghetto" Japanese people, but everyone was super friendly. I had guys talking to me, inviting me to dance with their girls... *** that would NEVERRRR happen in the US! I had a good time here, but it wasn't really my scene. Upstairs again, on the 3rd floor, is a small bar area at the top of the stairs. There are pictures behind the bar of Japanese people showing off their tattoos - Yakuza?
Dress Code: Around the bend is the biggest dancefloor in the club. The DJ plays trance/house/rave/techno, and it is an excellent assortment. There is a bar 5 steps away from the dance floor and i never had to wait for a drink even though the floor was COVERED with people. Gorgeous Japanese girls were up on the boxes dancing... just walk up and offer a hand - I can almost assure you that they will climb down and dance with you. I was surrounded in seconds, and it was GLORIOUS.
I met people from over a dozen different countries, but Japanese people made up most of the clinetelle (contrary to popular belief). Drinks were reasonable for the area (500-1200 yen). I bumped into some US military dudes, who actually bough me drinks for introducing them to the "white girls" on my trip, haha.
Check this place out! It won't disappoint! Even if you dont speak ANY Nihongo, you will do just fine!
It was all over the place. Jeans and Tees, up to shirts and ties. I wore nice jeans, a solid color dress shirt, and pennyloafers, and felt just right. Some of the Japanese girls were rocking cut up wifebeaters and short denim skirts with stilettos... amazing. Watch out for the group of hotties on the *** box to the right. They are tattoo'd up and undoubtedly the best looking in the club. Like I said, just offer a hand..........
I'm transferring to Sophia University in Tokyo as a direct result of the amazing time I had in Japan. Vanilla definately added to the fun!
- Study Abroad
Home away from Home
Most of the bars are located along Gaien-Higashi street. It is the road which heads towards Tokyo Tower from Roppongi station.
If you are looking for a quiet place to go for a drink on a Friday night, Roppongi probably isn't the place to go.
Here are a few suggestions..
Bar, Isn't It
One of the first discount bars in Tokyo which offers all drinks for just 500 yen.
Bar which plays plenty of 70s and 80s music with one of the largest LP collections in Tokyo.
One of the first loud rock-and-roll, cash bars, with one of the cheapest happy hours in Tokyo. Until 9:30 pm, all drinks are only 400 yen and on Thursdays they are 400 yen all night. They actually have 3 bars in Roppongi with another one in Shibuya.
Small narrow bar which gets pretty crowded quickly. Be careful if you ring the bell as you will be buying everyone drinks in the bar.
Similar in style to Geronimo, on busy nights the crowd spills out on to the street.
One of Tokyo's more lively Irish Pubs
Tokyo Sports Cafe
One of Tokyo's most popular sports bars.
Roppongi: Avoid Roppongi
Roppongi is a place full of boisterous young expats (mostly males), so if you are looking for a drunken sausage fest- head there! If you want more authentic fun after hours, head to Shibuya or West Shinjuku.
Roppongi: Geronimo Shot Bar
We visited this bar on a Sunday night. If you don't know already, almost everything closes on Sunday night, so we were happy to find out the Geronimo's is open. On the second level, the bar is very small. All the staff were Australian, so leads me to believe this is an Aussie bar. A lot of gaijin here, almost no Japanese. The drinks are modertly priced. The night that we went a lot of people were buying drinks for the bar. When I asked the bartender about this, she told me it happens quite a lot on the weekends. The bar itself is like being trapped in a forest, wood is everywhere. There is also a big drum hanging above the bar. I'm not sure what they use this for, but the night we were there it was to announce each free shot the patrons got. A good place to meet expats and fellow travellers.
Happy hour is till 9 every night.
Dress Code: No dress code required.
Roppongi: The place to go when evening comes
If you look for some western style nightlife (but not just) than the place to go in Tokyo is Roppongi. There you will find many pubs and clubs like Gas Panic or Motown House and you can spend the whole night till down when the first trains are leaving. (this is when the pic was made)
Dress Code: Depends where you go but the usual jeans and T-shirt will do at most of the places.
Well, Roppongi is special to say the least... Spent my second night in Tokyo (the first really because the real first one was recovering from the strongest jet lag of my life).
My brother and one of his friend told me there was some crazy party in Roppongi for Halloween. Well, it was crazy. Never been to a so packed bar, people pushing everybody. Quite violent I mean. I am pretty used to bars and clubs and of course the sexual quest leads people to become more aggressive as well as more funny. But there I found it not so funny. Saw 2 meters US GIs dancing like they were f()king tiny Japanese women and pushing everybody. Well, did not really like the atmosphere in Roppongi. felt like the occidental trash went there to abuse of Japanese people and unleash themselves. More aggressive than fun, to my point of view. Talked to a Japanese guy who lives in France and he told me he hated Roppongi too. Anyway, best thing is probably to check it by yourself.
Moreover it is very subjective, one night is pretty unrepresentative. A few days later, went to one of the greatest club ever (except for the music): super models everywhere (no kidding) and saw Ed Norton there. Maybe it was in Roppongi... I have no idea.
Roppongi Intersection: Cool Clubs, Pubs and People Watching
Ropponggi is where you will find many foreigners & visitors congregating. There are pubs, jazz & dance clubs but as I was only in Tokyo on a short visit I was unable to personally check them all out. (as if anyone could-there are so many!)
I noticed a Hard Rock Café, TGI Fridays, Starbucks which were all located in and around the Roppongi Intersection (at the intersection of Roppongi Dori & Gaien-Higashi Dori) at Roppongi.
I did visit Gas Panics (supposedly just behind TGI Fridays-but I walked around the side streets three times before actually finding the entrance to this club- there was a long queue waiting to get into the lift.
Spread out onto 3 floors, this club attracts a younger crowd - and many Americans - drinks are from 600 Yen, and there is very attentive service. The signs on the wall tell you that you have to order a drink or else you can't hang around. The lower floor (2nd floor?) was filled to the brim, so I went upstairs where it was quieter. Good choice: large video screen, less noisy, cosy little round tables with high stools and three women doing a spot of bar-top dancing. I believe they were customers and did not actually work there!
At Roppongi Intersection, you’re sure to find something just for you.
Tips for Women Travellers: There were a few men hanging around on the streets (handing out flyers or surveying the crowd for potential customers), so if you don't want any unwanted attention, it might be better to go with a friend or in a group, especially at night.
Dress Code: Casual or formal, but above all, try to fit in. For example, you might want to be cool and trendy at some dance clubs, and others have a more relaxed atmosphere and you can wear jeans and nice shirt or tops. Anyway, the Japanese always look well-groomed and well-dressed, so take your cue from there.
2F & 3F Gaspanic Bldg.
Tokyo, 106-0032 Japan
Phone: +81 (0)3 3405 0633
(Gaspanics has a branch in Shibuya too)
No. 2 Togensha Bldg.
2F 3-15-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tokyo, 106-0032 Japan
Phone: +81 (0)3 5415 3251
El Cafe Latino
Win Roppongi 1F
3-15-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Phone: +81 (0)3 3402 8989
Clubs open from 5 or 6pm till the early hours.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
Roppongi: Motown Greats
Ropponggi Intersection has something for everyone. It is a popular spot for foreigners and you will see many people thronging the streets late into the night.
I did enjoy my visit to Motown (in front of Wall Street). It plays upbeat remakes of the Motown Greats and attracts the 28-45 age-group, good mix of Asians and Europeans, drinks from 800 Yen, no cover). What does my taste in music tell you about me? (he he). There was also a little dance floor where a Japanese Michael Jackson look alike all dressed in white and dark sunglasses was grooving to the moves with a couple of girl pals.
I was also keen to visit the rather famous El Cafe Latino but didn't have the energy to stay up all night.
If you have time, Wall Street (very near Gas Panics), looks very elegant from the outside and has been recommended on certain websites, but I didn't get a chance to go in. It is located on the 2nd floor of a dinghy building, with many of its cocktails bearing financial terms. Apparently from other sources, drinks are from 500 yen during Happy Hour.
Dress Code: Dress up and you'll fit in for sure. You can wear jeans, but put on a nice top that is classy.
Sorry, the picture was not taken at Ropponggi but in Shinjuku. It simply would not be cool to have brought my camera along when going to have drinks with friends. I certainly didn't want to look like a gawky tourist!
- Business Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
velfarre: Super Euro Flash ~Gold~
velfarre is a highclass and expensive disco. Owned and operated by Japanese music label avex trax, this club has its own special "theme" nights. Regular theme nights include Thursday's SEF Gold and Saturday's Cyber Trance. Other nights include Salsa, Oldies, and R&B. velfarre occasionally holds special VIP Parties for some top artists, including Destiny's Child and Ashanti.
On the particular night I went to, it was Thursday's SEF Gold night. I brought an old velfarre entrance ticket from 2001 and got 50% off the entrance fee. The entrance level is 2F, and it includes a very nice lounge and a locker room. There is a "trail" that leads to the 2 elevators to get to the dance floor. When you enter the elevator, the lights go off. As you are going down, the ceiling lights turn all different types of colours and it plays music! The dance floor includes 2 bars on each side of the club with chairs and tables. There is a huge discoball hanging from the ceiling that is in the center of the club, and it is one of velfarre's signature pieces. Also in the center is the DJ Box, where you can request songs. The stage is also one of velfarre's signature pieces. They have very nice screens that play videos during the time. Most people who come here are regulars, so expect most of the people to know each other. Bring a friend with you if you don't feel comfortable being by yourself!
Bring your own water! If you do not want to purchase more drink tickets, I would suggest bringing your own in! For the regular entrance price, you usually only get 1 or 2 drinks. The only vending machine in the whole club is for Asahi beer, which is located next to the washrooms.
If you know what you're doing at this club, then it can be very enjoyable. I do not recommend this for people who just want to go drinking. If you just want to go drinking and look for cute Japanese girls, head over to GasPanic.
Dress Code: Dress nice! It is usually conservative casual, but it can usually depend on each different theme night. If you are too casual you might not be allowed inside!
- Theater Travel
Geronimo! Shot Bar: The Red Thunder in the East
Geronimo is a native American and Wild West themed bar - being one of the most popular and well known bar in Roppongi. Of all the bars, this is my favourite.
This is an amazingly small bar with so many people being sandwiched but its great fun.
There is no cover charge to enter.
4 interesting things to note about this bar:
1. There is a small native American drum that hangs above the bar. If you hit the drum, you are supposed to buy everyone in the bar a drink.
2. Shot Hall of Fame! Drink 15 different shots in 1 shot and you win yourself a free T-shirt.
3. Being Chief of the month. A monthly running total of how many drinks you buy each month from banging the drum. In this instance, you will win yourself a special plaque of your name in the bar.
4. No one enters the shot bar wearing a tie. If you are caught wearing a tie, it'll be snipped off straight away and stapled to the ceiling of the bar.
You can hardly find any Japanese in this bar.
Roppongi: Roppongi nightlife
Roppongi-ku is full of night entertainment, to fulfil whatever interests you have, ranging from hip hop clubs to jazz/piano bars to karaoke joints.
One place that plays good hip hop music is Motown. I don't have the address, but it's near the main meeting place in Roppongi (where there's a huge sign board and generally the taxis let you alight there). The attitude is generally to have a good time, with music and drinks. The crowd tends to be expat men, and that attracts some "working" women, but it's generally safe in there.
Gas Panic is another place popular with the expat crowd and military staff on stopovers. It plays Top 40 music, danceable stuff. Smallish place, but that could be because I went to the underground (literally!) one. I've heard there's another branch, but haven't actually been there.
Do avoid the bouncers that swarm the streets. They are usually African-American, and will try to persuade the men in your group to visit the men's clubs which are common in Roppongi. Ladies are not completely ignored, as sometimes these bouncers try to recruit them for the clubs!
- Business Travel
I'm from Detroit...Motown. Of all places I ended up in Motown Cafe in Roppongi. Great place but super packed. What we thought was a club promoter ended up being a Nigerian Pimp. He tricked us into going to the Million Dollar Club full of hookers. We left and ended up at Gas-Panic. Great place...two floors of fun but you have to keep on buying beer to stay in so if you are a light drinker hold that empty bottle all night.
Dress Code: Anything Goes
vanilla---vah-nee-la as they called it: hard core partying
we went to several bars, lounges but ended up at this huge mega club called vanilla. it was a huge 5 story bldg. each floor had different themes and rooms with different music. even a really nice restaurant. all kinds of people went. good looking/not good looking. rich/socialites/working bugs/pathetic drunks. i think there were 3000 ppl there minimum. partied til the sun came up and shut the place down. great place to meet ppl and to ppl watch. good music too. reggae is big in japan.
Dress Code: u can be as weird as u want and no one will bat an eyelash...come however u want.
Roppongi is one of the more welcoming places in Tokyo for gaigin (Non Asian looking foreigners, particularly Americans). The area tends to be where those looking to come together go for fun.
I had a great time and met many Japanese friends at a club called Gas Panics, and regularly ate dinner in the area. (It is home to the Tokyo Hard Rock Cafe, a Western Style Ribs joint and other good restaurants).
It is actually easy to get to if you are on the Ginza Line, just keep going west and look for Roppongi as a stop. When you get out of the station, look for a building with a striped awning called "almond" when you see that, you are there!
In addition to clubs, Kareoke bars, restaurants and the usual sort of thing, there is the typical Japanese sex stuff. Chances are you will meet up at some point with a girl who just loves to give a massage, or the Australian ex-pat who works as a doorman for a strip club for the Yakusa. It is not a bad area, in fact I felt safer in Roppongi than I did in most places in the US of A, but if you don't go looking for trouble it won't find you.
Dress Code: For Gas Panics, dress nicely, but not too nicely, it is a dance club. Remember this isn't an American club where you have to skank yourself up to go to. No no no, instead go by the picture as a guide for Gas Panics and places like the Hard Rock. If you are going someplace else, this rule of thumb may not be appropriate.
- School Holidays
- Study Abroad
Roppongi: the best of nightlife
the place with the so called abundance of foreigners.Although there are many, you dont take so much notice.Just walk the main drag and pick and choose which club or nite spot you want to visit.Each club has a representative outside calling you in, offering free shots and cheap drinks, go have a look.
Dress Code: very relaxed
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