Night Out in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Shinjuku is one of the most interesting places in the world at night. And I can say that without having even entered a bar there. The crowds of people wandering through the streets and the bright lights make Shinjuku a visual feast that cannot be passed up. If you are hungry, there are plenty of fine restaurants -- I ate at a sushi place there that was delicious. If you are thirsty, there seeem to be plenty of great bars that I can't wait to try. And, if you want to see naked women, there seems to be plenty of that, too. Just find an African tout and he'll lead you to his favorite place! I'm sure of that, since they hounded me constantly being a guy alone when I was there in 1998.
Mostly, I like wandering around the crowds and lights of Sinjuku. When you think of Japanese nightlife, this is the image that come to mind!
The stretch of Yasakuni dori just to the east of Shinjuku JR station is abuzz with restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, pubs, pachinko palours and game arcades. There is something for everyone young and old. The variety of eating establishments is simply mind-boggling. However, do note that not all eating establishments have English menus or window displays of the food. Unless you can read Japanese, you may have problems ordering. But not to worry - there are numerous restaurants in the food alley of Shinjuku Station and on the top floors of Odakyu Shopping Center. The side streets on both sides of Yasakuni dori are full of these eating establishments, bars and pubs.
Dress Code: Casual
Shinjuku is crazy at night! The place is full of people, bright flashing lights and people enticing you to try their club or restaurant. There are so many choices and you could go back every night and still find the place to be endless fun!
You do have to be careful to check what the cover price is to enter bars and clubs as some charge huge amounts of money!
Unfortunately I couldn't go out at night due to our busy tour scheldule, but I found this pub which I used to go to when I was living in Canada. A nice place to eat, drink and meet new friends.
Dress Code: Casual but no sneakers, at least in Canada.
Shinjuku is where all the train lines seem to meet. Easy to get there and wander around seeing how young and old Japanese like to spend their nights away.
Many cinemas and shops opening late at night. Kabukichyo is the red light district nearby.
Kabuki Cho is the Red Light District. If you dont know this, you may not even notice. Or maybe that is just me. I walked around this area that is supposed to be soapboxes, stripclubs etc. But mostly I saw restaurants, noodle shops, some ice cream, and gambling. So I can't give you my impression of the sex scene, but if you land late and want something to eat, or to play patchinko latenight, this is the place.
Dress Code: anything
Fransis Coppola's daughter Sofia Coppola , movie director made "Lost In Translation".
May be, you watched the scene of Shinjuku of the movie.
When I was a student, I sometimes went to Shinjuku to eat korean BBQ, drink with my colleagues, all you can eat&drink, and to listen the jazz music.
Unfortunately I did'nt go to "2-town".
At Kabukicho,every kind of adult entertainment awaits you. From strip clubs and hostess bars to pachinko parlours and Love Hotels. (Although prostitution is illegal in Japan, enforcement of the law is almost nonexistent, and nowhere is there talk of a Bangkok-style cleanup.)
A unique store that I came across had bright neon lighting and looked just like a large record shop,but on the inside, instead of music CDs, it was filled with photographs of women, men and addresses & contact details of clubs and types of clubs.
My tour guide explained that this was a recent development, and it offered new type of service, basically as a one-stop information centre for those looking for certain types of adult entertainment.
The one in the picture carries the interesting name of Hot Men’s Box (HMB). For men (or women) who don't have time to shop around, this would be just the place to go!
Did you notice that the HMB lettering looks rather suspiciously like HMV records's lettering? hmmm
Dress Code: Act out your fantasies: The environment at the club could be a mock office, a classroom, a doctor's office. even, sexual harassment on a subway car! (caveat: all information here is strictly from the internet and not from my personal experience!!)
There is something for everyone at Shinjuku's Kabukicho area. Apart from the usual entertainment for men, there are streets that are exclusively for women. Some clubs have photos of the available men and next to each, there is a number, with No.1, being the Most Popular Guy of the club, No. 2 being the next most popular and so on.
On the outside of one such club, my female colleague and I jokingly picked one of the men from the photo display and coincidentally picked the same guy! (a rather cute Japanese guy in his late 20's, clean-cut, with glasses, slightly studious looking), only to be informed by our guide that the picture was that of the club owner, who was a multi-millionaire and quite famous in Japan! hahaha (I guess we were lucky that it was early yet and the club was still closed! LOL)
Dress Code: No jacket required!
The Kabukicho district is Shinjuku’s adult entertainment district. It consists of only a few streets and alleyways, but it's tightly packed together with adult clubs of all sorts & specialties.
Apparently there are kyabakura, or cabaret clubs which offer lap dancing & Esthe clubs and pink salons, which offer sex massage. There are also imekura, or image clubs which involve all manner of sexual role-playing. Don't know much about those places, but if it takes your fancy, please check them out and let me know! : )
While most of the entertainment targets men, at a certain street, there were a number of clubs catering for women. (see tip below for more exciting details!)
Apart from these clubs, there are tiny ramen outlets and sushi bars, pachinko parlour and the infamous Love Hotels. The names of each are unique, creative and sometimes appear to have no meaning in the English language. For example, I came across a love hotel with the strange name of Hotel Labio.
Dress Code: As we were there rather early (before 9pm), & it was a rainy night, the streets were rather empty, but there were men in business suits standing under their umbrellas in front of each club in a rather proprietory manner. I also noticed a couple of young women wearing school-girl like uniforms with ultra-short pleated skirts.
There was also another group of ladies, obviously out on a smoke break, wearing knee length white faux-leather jackets with large buttons down the front (remember Emma Peel of The Avengers?) with tall leather boots, and peeking out from underneath I caught a glimpse of their long, filmy undershirts in hot red. I also saw a lady in traditional kimono, waving her friend goodbye before disappearing back into the club.
In a nutshell, anything goes!
I explored the streets nearby my hotel with a couple of my colleagues. We walked passed the Keio Plaza area and through some alleyways, and there were a number of ramen, sushi, tempura and beef rice shops. There were also a few nightclubs, a large shop selling cameras, computers & electrical accessories and a pachinko parlour called Aladdin and an AM-PM shop (like a 7-11).
If you ask me, yes, I felt it was safe enough and if I had been alone, I would have still explored the area on my own. No one hassled us or bothered us.
Tip: If exploring on your own, do bring a map along, because it is easy to lose your sense of direction and there aren't many English signs.
With the Times Square (Takashimaya) shopping mall as the focus point, and lots of street shopping, small restaurants, a few food stalls, some pachinco parlours, some clubs, this part of Shinjuku is very much alive, day and night. Take a slow walk and take in the sights and sounds of Shinjuku.
Right in the heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku is a must see if you are visiting for the first time. The first place you are likely to see here is the station which is an experience in itself, but probably best avoided in rush hour (apparantly 3 million people pass through every day!).
Leave the station through the east exit and you will walk out into the shopping area with lots of shops, huge screens and flashing neon signs everywhere. It looks best at night. The shops stay open late and in the area called Kabukicho there are many Karaoke places, arcades, hostess bars and Pachinko parlours to choose from. If you are looking for somewhere to eat or a bar they are either in the basements or on the top floors.
If you look around you can find some places to get away from the hustle and bustle. Right near the station under a dodgy looking subway will take you to an area known as "*** ally" which is a couple of narrow allyways crammed with small yakitori places (not as bad as the name suggests). Also if you walk along the main strip on the left hand side of the road coming from the station, keep an eye out for a sign to Shinjuku Bunka Center. There is an allyway here that is lined with bamboo which is a bit unexpected. Also around this area is Golden Gai that is a street lined with old bars and the Hanazono Shrine that is a very peaceful spot at night (walk along the bamboo lined ally to get there, it is about half way down on the right).
Shinjuku Nichome is an area a couple of blocks wide, serving as the focal point for anything and everything gay (and male)
in Japan. Its almost like a little country inside the country. All over Japan, bored boys dream of running away to Nichome (and all over Nichome, bored boys hang around waiting for Mr Right to finally put in an appearance).
However, for foreigners, much of Nichome is a closed world. Japanese-style bars, usually the siae of a living room and holding a handful of regular clients only, are particualrly appealing to most travellers or expats (or many younger Japanese).
Foreign friendly spots include: Advocates, a street cafe/bar on the main drag that attracts a stylish, expat-heavy crowd drinking outside on the footpath.
GB - a dank basement bar popular with white guys and the men who love them.
Dragon-opposite GB, a cramped danceclub that also screens porno videos!
If you really want to dance, the best place is probably Ageha (see separate entry) on one of their bimonthly gay nights.
To find any of these establishments, your best bet is simply to wander into Nichome and stop the first English-speaking person you see!
Dress Code: Clubs in Japan are exceptionally casual about clothes, but some are extremely rcist. The happening and funky "Word Up" Bar for example allows white people, but only if they speak Japanese and has caused controversy with its rather xenophobic stance (a sign on the dor says "this bar is for Japanese and Asians") A shame the guys who hang out there are so cute!
Also be aware that many bars do not allow, or discourage, women. Another shame.
Wow, men's heaven? Have no idea. Since my girl friend didn't allow me to go near. Just took a photo from far.
Dress Code: Dress like a richman when you are "outside". No dress is required when you are "inside". :)