Roppongi — where nightlife, brand name shopping and art collide. This lively neighborhood, with its mish-mash of attractions and things to do, is a popular place for locals and tourists alike.
In fact, Roppongi has so much going for it, it’s hard to know where to start — but that’s where we come in. We’ve compiled this list of the best things to do in Roppongi so that you can make the most of your time in the the High-End Hills.
New: The shiny Azabudai Hills complex, open from 24 November 2023, is a 10-15 minute walk from Roppongi. It’s worth a detour.
1. Party your worries away
When the sun sets the bars and club throw open their doors and Roppongi goes from sophisticated metropolitan neighborhood to party-mode. According to our local music fan Roppongi is The Place to party with class — even if it is a little seedy.
We recommend starting the night off at a foreigner friendly bar — or a cheapo friendly bar if that’s a priority for you. Another option is joining a pub crawl (book here) and making some new friends before hitting up a nightclub for your final stop.
Keep in mind that most clubs have some kind of cover charge (anything from ¥1,000–¥3,000 or more). On Friday and Saturday nights those charges are usually higher. On the upside, the cover charge usually includes at least 1 free drink ticket and there are often discounts for early-birds/students/foreigners/women.
2. Appreciate some art
Roppongi is home to numerous art galleries, including the Roppongi Art Triangle: Suntory Museum of Art, National Art Center and Mori Art Museum. We recommend getting your hands on a Grutt Pass which will get you discounted entry to all 3, as well as 98 other museums, art galleries, zoos and gardens in and around Tokyo.
There are also numerous independent galleries and the 21 21 Design Sight. These can be a great way to find unusual and backstreet art in the center of the city. Two popular spots are Gallery Side 2 and Hiromiyoshii which both have busy schedules and good exhibition spaces. Don’t limit it to these two though, a wander around this area will lead you past numerous galleries all with something unique to offer.
3. Shop your worries away
Shopping in Roppongi can be a high-end experience, but regular events (like the Christmas Markets) and yearly sales make it more accessible to everyone. The two most well-know shopping malls in the area are Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills. But then again, calling them shopping malls is an understatement. Tokyo Midtown is home to the aforementioned Suntory Art Museum and 21 21 Design Sight, as well as Fujifilm Square (which we’ll get to in a moment). Roppongi Hills meanwhile has the Mori Art Museum and Mori Tower.
Of course both have a wide variety of midrange to luxury brand fashion and accessory stores for the whole family. As you would expect from these kinds of shops, you can expect the available styles to be a little fancy and the price tags to be little heavy. Seasonal events add to the fun so keep your eyes open for things like Design Touch and the Midtown Ice Rink. Also, if you’re a foreign visitor to Japan and want to spend up big, keep your eye out for shops offering tax-free shopping.
3. Look at life through a lens at Fujifilm Square
Camera-nerd and camera-curious people can’t miss Fujifilm Square. It’s a showcase for all things Fuji — with antique cameras on display, a hands-on showroom and weekly photo exhibitions. And it’s all open to the public for free. Information about the exhibits is usually available in Japanese and English too, so bonus points for that.
The FujiFilm Photo Salon has weekly exhibits ranging from National Geographic to Pictorialism to Animal Locomotion, and the schedule is available well in advance. Touch Fujifilm lets you try out all the newest gadgets and cameras from 12pm-7pm on weekdays and 10am-7pm on weekends. Last but maybe not least (depending on your love of historical photography) is the Photo History Museum which has interactive replicas as well as an extensive history of photography and the development of the camera.
4. Face your fear with Maman
We kept you hanging, but you can probably see why. A must-see in Roppongi — especially for the arachnophobes among us — is Louise Bourgeois’ Maman. Maman can be found at Roku Roku Plaza in Roppongi Hills. It’s a popular meeting place (we wonder why?) and great for pictures. At a little over 9m tall and 10m wide, the stainless steel and bronze statue is the stuff of nightmares, but thankfully won’t be chasing you anywhere. If you stand beneath this mammoth creation, you can see its 26 marble eggs. The piece is the artist’s ode to her mother, a weaver in Paris, with her encapsulation of weaving, spinning, nature and protection.
5. Hang out with space fish at Mohri Garden
In Roppongi Hills you’ll also find a 400-year-old resting spot that’s perfect for lunch, with beautiful views and even cherry blossoms. There is one thing that makes this pond unusual though, and that’s space fish. In 2003, 10,000 medaka fish were welcomed to the central pond by Japanese astronaut Mamoru Mohri. These little silvery fish were once common in flooded rice paddies but have suffered from a susceptibility to pesticides and fertilizer run-off. These ones, however, are the much-studied descendants of those that orbited the earth on the Space Shuttle Columbia as part of research into extra-terrestrial reproduction in 1994. The release of these tiddlers into the pond was an effort to reflect Roppongi Hill’s unique blend of Japanese traditions with 21st-century urban lifestyles — basically spacefish in a beautiful pond — what’s not to like?
6. Get the best view of Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower is the perfect distance from Roppongi to guarantee a perfect view — if you know where to go. If you find yourself in Roppongi Hills, you’re already halfway there. Tokyo City View is part of the Roppongi Hills complex, and for ¥2,200 (or ¥1,800 if you book here), you can head on up to the Observation Deck for exactly what you’d expect — a Tokyo city view. You’ll be able to see a number of Tokyo landmarks, including Tokyo Tower and on a clear day, Mt Fuji. For an extra ¥500 ticket holders can enjoy the open air experience of the Sky Deck too, which will give relatively unobstructed 360 degree views.
7. Chow down on some delicous international food
Due to it’s high population of foreign residents, and the presence of a number of international company headquarters, Roppongi has become a must-visit destination for foodies seeking international flavors. You’ll easily be able to find kebabs, falafels pizza, as well as delicious brunch and good ol’ British pub options. You’ll also find that supermarkets in this area, like Meidi-Ya, are more likely to sell international ingredients.
8. Learn about drastic dedication at Nogi Shrine
For those with a taste for the macabre, Nogi Shrine is the one to visit. Dedicated to General Nogi Maresuke and his wife, the shrine and adjacent house are home to some dark history and chilling artifacts. When Emperor Meiji died on December 13th 1912, the couple decided to prove their honor by joining him in death. The General performed seppuku (disembowelment) whilst his wife slit her throat with a knife. The house in which they took their lives is next to the shrine, and is only open to visitors for two days a year: the eve and anniversary of their death. You can, however, glimpse a bloodstained shirt from a raised walkway, if you so please. If you like to combine your dark-tourism with some bargain-hunting (and who-doesn’t?), there is a popular flea market here on the 4th Sunday of every month.
9. Enjoy the view at Keyakizaka Dōri (with added illuminations in winter)
It may be best when partnered with the winter illuminations, but it’s a great vantage point without, offering great views of busy streets and Tokyo Tower. Although only on for a month and finishing at Christmas, the illuminations are just too good not to mention. Over 1.2 million LEDs light up the trees lining Keyakizaki Dori in a breathtaking sight, with Tokyo Tower glowing in the distance to create a stunning view. In 2015, there were two color-themes: ‘Snow & Blue’ and a Candle & Red’, both of which looked amazing, with the street fading between the two. Secret hearts were hidden around the street and only illuminated once an hour — making it a great date spot in the most romantic month of the year (for Japan that is).
10. Follow your sweet tooth to Toraya
If you’re thinking of trying some traditional sweets, you may as well do so at the best known-name in Japanese confectionery. Originally started in Kyoto, Toraya has over 500 years of experience in creating fresh wagashi (small sweets) for beautiful gifts or indulgent treats. This branch houses not only a shop and cafe, but also a gallery where you can learn about various things related to wagashi. The exhibitions change from time to time, so it’s always worth stopping by if you’re in the area.
And of course enjoy some afternoon while you’re at it. Drinks are ¥770–¥990, while the sweets will set you back anywhere between ¥1,200 and ¥1,700. The menu and ingredients change seasonally, making it likely that you’ll be able to try different things each time you visit.
Pro tip: You can get to Roppongi any way at all — on foot, by train or by city bus — but for those who might want to double up on the sightseeing, there’s also a Hop on, Hop Off Tokyo Sky Bus that takes in most of Tokyo’s major sightseeing spots, including Roppongi.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Last updated in October 2022 by Maria Danuco.