Tokyo's Best Nightlife Districts
Shibuya, Tokyo
destination
Shibuya
As one of Tokyo’s most densely packed and brightly-lit central districts, it’s no surprise that Shibuya stays up late, with countless eateries, boutiques, watering holes, clubs, arcades and karaoke bars catering to night owls well into the small hours. If you’re going to miss the last train (most trains and subways only run until around the midnight hour), this is the place to be. Shibuya is especially popular with Tokyo’s youth, but is relatively accessible to and full of non-Japanese locals and visitors as well. With dozens of clubs featuring top local and international DJs, Shibuya is one of the city’s dance music hubs.
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Shinjuku, Tokyo
destination
Shinjuku
Shinjuku is another city-within-the-city that never sleeps. Just a few stations away from Shibuya, boredom is not a possibility in this frenetic section of Tokyo. The nightlife here runs the gamut, from rowdy izakayas and beer bars, to red-light entertainment and the infamous Robot Restaurant, as well as Tokyo’s small but lively gay district (2-chome, Ni-Chome). The Kabukicho section of Shinjuku is Tokyo’s most well known red-light district. Despite the area’s shady reputation, it can be an interesting and rewarding district to explore, and amongst the madness you can find great little bars and restaurants, as well as local music venues and more.
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Minato, Tokyo
destination
Roppongi
Packed to the brim with bars, clubs, and all-night revelers, Roppongi is without a doubt one of Tokyo’s most famous nightlife districts. Since the post-war era, when it served as a hangout for Allied forces, it’s been popular with non-Japanese, and to this day attracts an outsize percentage of ex-pats, international tourists, as well as Japanese salarymen, which is reflected in the area’s higher than average entry and drink prices. Roppongi is a real mishmash, filled with everything from upscale bars, jazz venues and western-style clubs, to countless dive bars along with more sleazy establishments. Some places are slightly worn-in, but the area is always packed on weekends and an option if you’re looking for a big night out. Although generally safe, be aware that Roppongi can get rather loud and crowded at night, as well as attracting its fair share of touts.
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Chūō, Tokyo
destination
Ginza
By day, Ginza is an upscale business district and high-fashion shopping destination boasting one of the largest concentrations of luxury brands in the world. As night falls, it transforms into one of Tokyo’s premium entertainment districts, with scores of decadent fine-dining restaurants (including many of Tokyo’s best sushi shops), chic bars, and opulent nightclubs. Much of Ginza’s nightlife is hidden from plain view, with many of the best bars and restaurants tucked away on the upper floors of nondescript buildings. At many establishments, you can expect to be met with hefty bills along with rather exclusive entrance policies. Genius is perhaps the quintessential Ginza luxury clubbing experience, where some of Tokyo’s best-dressed and most affluent come together. If you’re in search of a more casual atmosphere, Ginza is also home to a handful of renowned cocktail bars, such as Star Bar, as well as its fair share of hip artsy bars (try 300 Bar or Suki Bar) for something a little easier on the wallet.
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Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to
destination • experience
Shimo-Kitazawa Station
Shimokitazawa (Shimokita, for short) is a bohemian neighborhood less frequented by casual travelers, despite only being a short hop from Shibuya and having plenty to offer in terms of vintage shopping, quirky eateries and indie entertainment options. Shimokitazawa is a magnet for Tokyo’s hipster and alternative crowds, and is packed full of lively (and reasonably-priced) bars and izakayas, many of which are hidden away down nooks and crannies that may take some wandering to find.
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Shibuya, Tokyo
destination
Ebisu
Catering particularly to hip Tokyoites in their 30s and early 40s (though naturally not in the least limited to this demographic), Ebisu is also one of the best places in Tokyo to indulge in the izakaya experience. Spending a few hours over food and drink at an izakaya (Japanese-style gastropub) is a great way to start your night out and mingle with locals in a relaxed setting. Beyond its countless bars and izakayas, Ebisu is also home to a great collection of stylish watering holes, including many old-school pubs and trendy tachinomiya. For a crash course in old-school Japanese nightlife, take a peek into the raucous Ebisu Yokocho.
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