an insider's guide to tokyo nightlife: fun things to do in tokyo at night
After traveling to so many different places, I can honestly say that Tokyo is one of the most fun cities 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 depends on your tastes and mood. But, I don’t have a favorite as each of these top spots is excellent in its own way.
If you want a more comprehensive guide to having an epic Tokyo experience, I highly recommend my book, Hidden Tokyo.
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 aims to unlock the magic of this city for travelers.
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
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 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 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
One of the coolest places to go at night for drinks and street food is in Ginza, an area called Yakitori Alley in Yurakucho. This is a scenic and quite a 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 several spots around Tokyo 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 massive, and it’s fun to order weird Tokyo eats.
6. gonpachi - the kill bill restaurant
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 food 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 pleasant atmosphere.
9. have drinks above the city at a 5-star hotel bar
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.
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
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 do 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.
Credit card fraud at lower end bars is a problem. It’s usually best to use cash in less classy establishments, especially in Roppongi and Kabukicho.
the 411 on shibuya nightlife
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 has a younger vibe to it, as opposed to some other districts. But it’s always fun and a must at night.
As mentioned earlier, my 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 good after midnight. I particularly love this club because of its high-quality music scene where you can get lost in the beats.
Movie Tip: Karaoke Kan is where Lost in Translation was filmed.
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.
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
Roppongi has a very diverse nightlife scene. When I first moved to Tokyo, I was warned about going out to clubs in Roppongi. Foreigners were often the target of credit card fraud.
With that said, the Roppongi scene is very diverse. It’s a hub of the traditional nightclub scene, but it also has some 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 a fun spot to grab drinks and dinner, but Roppongi is also the sight of the beloved Tokyo Pub Crawl.
shinjuku at night
Shinjuku, like Shibuya and Roppongi, has a 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, you come to Shinjuku for the Golden Gai District and Kabukicho. See my book, Hidden Tokyo, for a lot more insider access recommendations.
Do you want to unlock Tokyo’s Hidden Magic? I recommend my book, The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guidebook. It’s filled with hundreds of things to do and a range of activities that only an experienced local can possibly know about. You’ll unlock nearly 30 of Tokyo’s top neighborhoods in over 400 pages, designed to leave you knowing this city on a whole other level. Learn more.