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an insider's guide to tokyo nightlife: fun things to do in tokyo at night

This article talks about Tokyo nightlife, things to do in Tokyo at night, and provides some fun ideas for where to go to have that epic memorable Tokyo experience. 
tokyo nightlfie
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After traveling to so many different places, I can honestly say that Tokyo is the funnest city in the world when it comes to nightlife. No other place compares. Where else can you find boxed karaoke, arcades, late night cafes, and amazing music? The energy is insane and you’ll never find a lack of things to do. Tokyo sets the bar for nightlife.

There are several major districts in Tokyo that offer a distinct nightlife vibe and where you go really depends on your tastes and mood. But, I don’t have a favorite as each of these top spots is great in its own way.

If you want a more comprehensive guide to having an epic Tokyo experience, I highly recommend my book Hidden Tokyo. You’ll find over 62,000 words and 400 pages of pure Tokyo madness. I lay out the city by explaining each district, what to know, as well as providing tons of recommendations ranging from food, fun, art, architecture, electronics and more in an accessible way. It truly aims to unlock the magic of this city for travelers who want to truly know it.

crazy fun things to do in tokyo at night

Here are a few ideas of the Tokyo nightlife scene, but see the segments below of each neighborhood to get more ideas of things to do in Tokyo at night.

1. hit up shibuya

things to do in shibuya at night
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When I think of Tokyo nightlife, Shibuya comes to the top of my mind. Once you exit Shibuya Station at the crossing, the night is limitless. For one, the lights at night create such a fun energy. You can find tons of karaoke, bars, arcades, shopping, and clubs – my favorite Club Womb.

2. Indoor Golf With drinks and karaoke

Tokyo loves golfing and one super fun thing to do is go to an indoor simulator with simulated courses in your own box, except you actually get to order drinks and cocktails. Ginza Kossa is the place to go. The cool thing too is that they also have karaoke boxes to rent.

3. abbey road tokyo - the beatles bar

If you’re in the mood for music and love The Beatles, the Abbey Road Bar plays Beatles cover music and is super fun. It’s also located in Roppongi which is a fun scene at night. Their website is also English friendly, so consult it for times.

4. Eat Yakitori Under Train Tracks in Yakitori Alley

things to do at tokyo at night
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One of the coolest places to go at night for drinks and street food is in Ginza, a place called Yakitori Alley in Yurakucho. This is a scenic and quite rustic part of the city. Additionally, Yurakucho is close to both the Ginza and the Marunouchi Districts which offer a duality of Tokyo nightlife. On the one hand, you have street food, yet on the other, Marunouchi and Ginza are hubs for high-end restaurants and bars.

5. hang out at a haruki murakami location

There are a number of spots around Tokyo that are featured in these popular novels. After a night out, head over to The Denny’s in Shibuya for some pancakes or some Japanese late-night food. The menu is huge and it’s fun to order weird Tokyo eats.

6. gonpachi - the kill bill restaurant

tokyo night life
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This restaurant is one of my favorites in the city. Even though it’s pretty touristed, it’s always incredibly fun and has a great vibe. The decor is also really cool with the traditional Japanese woodwork, and the izakaya menu is also fulfilling. Sit at the bar for faster service or schedule a reservation in advance. It’s also located in Roppongi which is a hub of Tokyo nightlife.

7. maid cafes

Head over to Akiba or Shibuya for a Maid Cafe experience. I recommend Maiddreamin or Cafe Mai:lish in Akihabara. Start the night off at one of these places for an unforgettable night.

8. the maduro jazz lounge & the restaurants at the grand hyatt

If you’re in the mood for a classier scene, head to Roppongi and check out the restaurants at The Grand Hyatt Tokyo. You’ll find a nice selection of dining as well as a super classy jazz bar, the Maduro Jazz Lounge, if you’re not bothered by a smokey bar. It’s a great spot to listen to live music and have drinks in a nice atmosphere. 

9. have drinks above the city at a 5-star hotel bar

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One of my all time favorite things to do in Tokyo at night is to have drinks above the city. The best of Tokyo nightlife must include at least one hotel bar. This is from The Park Hyatt Shinjuku. Hit up The New York Bar for drinks in an elegant location over the city.

READ  Best of Travel 2014

Alternatively, the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills (Roppongi) has a super cool rooftop bar and is one of my favorite spots in the city for a drink and a stunning view of the city.  Be mindful of dress codes at these places. 

10. hang with locals in shinjuku's golden gai

Shinjuku is ripe with Tokyo nightlife. You can hit up the Korean BBQ spots and bars of Shin Okubo, The Park Hyatt Tokyo, and of course the famous Golden Gai district. Golden Gai is filled with an endless maze of local bars where you can experience the essence of Japanese mixology and mix with the locals.

Be warned though, there is a cover charge for foreigners at a lot of bars, but Bar Araku is popular for being foreigner friendly in this respect and has no charge.

11. kabukicho & the robot restaurant

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Kabukicho is Tokyo’s red light district, located in Shinjuku but it’s also the home to the famous Robot Restaurant. It’s a hub of Tokyo nightlife with karaoke, love hotels, and bars. Tourism has increased a lot here so it’s generally safe, but you still need to keep your wits about you. It’s also where the yakuza hang out, or the infamous Japanese mafia.

Don’t get pressured into any situation or place you don’t want to go and be aware that this is an area where crime and swindling does exist. I personally never spent much time here for nightlife as it’s not my scene, but I can see its appeal to others. Just don’t be too trusting and in case you don’t see my tip at the bottom, use cash and not credit cards.

READ  The Best Coin Lockers and Luggage Storage in Shibuya Station

the 411 on shibuya nightlife

tokyo nightlife
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Shibuya is one of the top places for nightlife in Tokyo. You have a ton of bars, some good clubs, and lots of lights and energy. It definitely has a younger vibe to it, as opposed to some other districts. But, it’s always fun and is always a must at night.

As mentioned earlier, my personal favorite spot is WOMB. WOMB brings in a lot of world-class DJs and is the hub of Tokyo’s electronic music scene. The music starts to get really good after midnight. I particularly love this club because of its high-quality music scene where you can get lost in the beats.

karaoke kan

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With locations around Tokyo, Karaoke Kan is the largest chain around Tokyo. And the Karaoke Kan in Shibuya is where you can find the famous scene from the movie Lost in Translation that so many people are curious about.

Honestly, I’ve found most of the boxes to be the same, but whether you go to a box or a private bar, it’s highly recommended that you not leave Tokyo without your own karaoke experience.

the 411 on roppongi at night

tokyo nightlife roppongi
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I love this photograph I took in Roppongi, Pachinko South
Roppongi has a very diverse nightlife scene. When I first moved to Tokyo, I was warned of going out to clubs in Roppongi because it was here that a lot of foreigners were targeted for fraud at bars by using credit cards.

With that said, the Roppongi scene is very diverse because it’s a hub of the traditional nightclub scene, but it also has some of super classy establishments such as the Andaz Tokyo. The vibe in Roppongi is a lot more subdued than the crazy lights and energy of Shibuya, but it’s also very fun too. As mentioned earlier, Gonpachi is an excellent spot to grab drinks and dinner but it’s also the sight of the beloved Tokyo Pub Crawl.

shinjuku at night

tokyo nightlife
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Shinjuku, like Shibuya and Roppongi, has its own unique nightlife vibe. It’s here where you can find a lot of local bars and pubs as well as some classy bars such as The New York Bar, as well as the Kabukicho district.

Essentially, it has everything. But, while Shibuya has a much younger vibe and Roppongi has both a “clubby” scene as well as a super high-end hotel bar scene, I come to Shinjuku for the Golden Gai District and Kabukicho, as well as a ton of amazing restaurants. See my book Hidden Tokyo for a lot more insider recommendations.

important tip

When I first moved to Tokyo, I was cautioned about going out to Roppongi and clubs around Tokyo and using credit cards. For one, most places in Kabukicho accept cash, but also, there has been a high incidence of credit card fraud at bars so whenever you’re at a less classier establishment, use cash to be safe.

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