Shinjuku Nichome is known as Tokyo’s gay district. The area is home to high concentration of gay bars, clubs and restaurants—but how do you choose where to go? Here are a few spots we recommend for an evening out in Nichome.
Where to eat
It’s never a good idea to go drinking on an empty stomach, not just for your health, but also because you might be tempted to purchase overpriced bar snacks later in the night. Here are a couple of options for reasonable places to eat in the area.
Agalico is a restaurant that serves a variety of Asian cuisine just across the street from Shinjuku Nichome, next to Shinjuku Sanchome station exit C6. Some items on their menu are pricey, but they also have some great value for money dishes, such as the chicken over rice, which for 1,078 yen will leave one person absolutely stuffed. They also serve glasses of house red or white wine for 429 yen, and they fill those up right to the brim. Even if you’re feeling fancy, a glass of sparkling wine filled to the brim will set you back just 550 yen.
Asian Bistro Agalico Shinjuku
Alamas Café is owned by the same people who run the biggest club in Nichome: Aisotope Lounge. What separates Alamas from other bars in the area is that it serves very affordable meals, such as chicken pho (700 yen), Alamas curry (800 yen), a burger (950 yen) or an 8-ingredient cobb salad (1,000 yen). You can grab a bite in the heart of Nichome before continuing to bar hop. On some nights, they have DJs at the bar too, so you can listen to great tunes while enjoying your food and drinks. Best of all, Alamas offers happy hour until 9 pm, with select drinks costing just 500 yen. Which brings us on to the next point of getting your money’s worth in the gayborhood—hitting up the happy hours!
Where to drink
Eagle Tokyo Blue
A newer bar in Nichome, it has a properly separated smoking area, and space to dance. On some nights it opens up two rooms, so you can enjoy a variety of tunes, with pop hits being played in the main room, and more chill disco vibes happening in the smaller room. If you’re a fan of drag, they have regular drag shows, as well as weekly viewings of the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In fact, this was the afterparty bar of choice for the Ru Girls when their Werq The World drag tour came to Tokyo.
There is no cover charge at Eagle Tokyo Blue.
Aiiro Café, another establishment run by the people who brought you Alamas Café mentioned above, is hugely popular with both expats living in Tokyo and visitors to the city. Its popularity explodes in the summer, with everyone enjoying drinks outside this small corner bar. It’s a great place to meet people and make some new friends—plus, there’s no cover charge.
If you don’t want to fork out around 3,000 yen for a weekend event at the Aisotope Lounge, Arty Farty is where you can get your dance fix on the cheap. Here, you just have to buy a drink to get in, and if you arrive before 9 pm, the reasonable-for-the-area 700-yen drinks are transformed into 500-yen happy hour bargains. Buying a drink will get you a fashionable UV stamp, which will get you entry without purchasing a beverage at their sister location, Annex. The transaction works both ways, so if you go to Annex first, you can move to Arty Farty for free later. At the prices they’re offering though, who wouldn’t want to buy another drink?
Do beware, weekends get extremely crowded, so if you want a more relaxed vibe where the DJ plays the songs you request, come on a weekday. Please also note that there have been several reports of theft at this venue, so make use of the lockers they offer outside or near the toilets to safely store your belongings. Paying 300 yen for a locker is a much better option than having your night ruined by stolen belongings.