While no trip to Tokyo would be complete without a night out, it’s fair to say no area has taken more of a hit in the past couple of years. Despite the challenges, the city’s music and nightlife scene is recovering and there is still plenty to enjoy after dark.
Bars: Yokocho and Izakaya
Drinking is one of the things Tokyo does best, and you can choose from a myriad of venues to get started. Izakaya are a natural starting point (we’ve got a great guide to those) as they allow you to line your stomach while enjoying an all you can drink course. If you’re after the quaint bar-lined alleys known as Yokocho, then you can take your pick from Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku or some of the lesser known options around the city. If you’re not sure what to start with, we have a guide to Japanese drinks, plus some of the best craft beer spots in town.
If you want someone to take the wheel (not literally, of course) then the Tokyo bar crawl in Roppongi is the place for you. With specially organized events run every weekend so you can drink shots till you drop, they have games and draws offering more drinks than the vodka-wielding hosts can throw at you.
However, if it’s summer, there is nothing better than grabbing a few drinks from the conbini and sitting by a river… you will make friends, go on adventures and get to see Tokyo in a whole new light.
Live Music: Superstars and local bands
The place to make it big, Tokyo isn’t short of live music, with local, national and world-famous shows to be seen. Shibuya’s LIQUIDROOM is a legendary spot, with live performances almost every night, while UNIT hosts live acts and dance nights in trendy Daikanyama. For those big names (and big prices) venues like the Budokan, Zepp Hall, Tokyo Dome, Ariake Arena and Tokyo Garden Theater host throughtout the year, but beware, prices for foreign bands are often much higher than at home. For a more casual affair, Aoyama Tunnel is ideal for eclectic live bands, Blue Note is renowned for Jazz and Bauhaus is a one-stop-shop for all things rock. If you’re in town at the right time, be sure to check out the legendary This ‘n’ That night, an evening of live music, art and collaboration. Check our guide to nightlife and live music for more.
Clubs: Going out out
Tokyo has some of the biggest and best clubs in the world, and while some of the big names (RIP Ageha) have gone, there are plenty to choose from. Head to Shibuya for the likes of WOMB, TK Shibuya and Camelot, or make the trip over to Aoyama for Hachi, a four-floor world of rock, house and hip-hop. IBEX and Harlem are great shouts of more of a hip-hop vibe while Sel Octagon is the one for EDM fans, and Azabu’s 1Oak is the place to be for celebrity appearances.
Girls nights, early entry and guest cards handed out near local stations are a great way to save, and a couple of drinks vouchers can balance out seemingly expensive entry fees. Be aware of dress-codes and keep tattoos tastefully hidden if possible when heading to some of the smarter venues.
Alternative Nights out: Karaoke, comedy and more
Never has a night out gone by without the suggestion of karaoke, be it from a friend, colleague or random stranger, and they are usually right. There are countless establishments, some reputable, some less so—but as with your singing, enthusiasm is what counts.
If you wanted to try something a little different, there’s an impressive comedy secene in Tokyo, with English and Japanese language shows to choose from, not to mention some great spoken word events too. If you time it right, you could even attend one of the more unusual night festivals such as Chichibu Yomatsuri or summer fireworks festivals, as both of which come with a lively night in surrounding stalls and bars.
If you need more ideas for nightlife and music in Tokyo, check out our events pages for all the latest one-off and regular nights, festivals and shows!