Nightlife in Tokyo
If you thought Auckland or Sydney was crazy at night, wait until you get to Tokyo. Neon-lit buildings, paper lanterns and busy streets make Tokyo one of the offbeat capitals of the world. Partiers and laid-back drinkers will find everything from Alice in Wonderland cocktail restaurants to raging nightclubs. But rest assured, this metropolis is not to be trifled with. In Japan's capital and most populated metropolitan in the globe, going out at night can be intimidating. However, with so many choices comes endless adventure. Whatever you're searching for, Tokyo has it all.
Getting to Know the Tokyo Scene
Before you storm the town, it's a good idea to know a little about the layout of the city. Tokyo consists of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages. Three major notes: First, accept that you will get lost. The city is so colossal - 13 million inhabitants-colossal, to be exact - that there will be a point in the night where all you see are signs in Japanese or coloured lines in the subway station. But don't worry, it happens to the locals and even the Japanese taxi drivers!
Second, when getting ready to go out or meet people, plan to leave earlier than expected. The distances are always greater and it will take longer than you think. Third, almost every bar or club charges a cover for admission, anywhere from $5 to $50. Save money by finding the details beforehand.
Importantly, Tokyo has no single centre of nighttime activity. There are dozens of buzzing locales spread across the city, each with its own vibe, attractions, price range and clientele.
The most famous neighbourhood nightspots are Ginza, Kabuki-cho in Shinjuki, Shibuya and Roppongi.
Ginza: Electrifying nightlife charges the streets of Ginza, one of the most expensive districts. It only makes sense then that deep-pocketed travellers and CEOs inhabit these bars and restaurants. On the whole, dress to impress. Ginza is home plenty of dining, cinemas, gambling and drinking places. For something a bit more familiar, head to Mid-Blue International Bar, which attracts foreigners and some Japanese. It also offers a variety of worldly beers.
Kabuki-cho in Shinjuki: This town never sleeps, but it goes to bed a lot. Kabuki-cho in Shinjuki is the largest red light district in Asia, stretching nearly 100 square blocks. With cabaret shows, love hotels, themed restaurants and robust night life, Kabuki-cho is a thrilling place to spend the evening. Other than that, you'll find bars, clubs, bowling, billiard, cinema karaoke and restaurants serving food from all corners of the world.
Roppongi: Roppongi is one of the most upscale districts of Tokyo. The streets are lined with dance clubs, upscale bars and dive bars where foreigners and Japanese socialites swarm for wild action. If you've come here to let loose, you're not alone. Plenty of Japanese and non-Japanese come to mingle. Crowd favourites include Shidax Roppongi Club, which packs karaoke, tambourines and drinks. However, only those with golden vocals should take the stage, since karaoke is taken surprisingly seriously. Be wary of shady strip club recruiters, overly intoxicated people after midnight.
Shibuya: Japanese teens and 20-somethings gravitate toward Shibuya. Here you'll find a range of establishments, from mega-clubs to tiny Japanese bars. One of the most buzz-worthy spots is Sound Museum Vision, the biggest nightclub in the Shibuya area, which visitors describe as "dreamlike." The electronic dance music reputation of Air, one of the most established nightclubs in Tokyo, precedes it. Everything leads up to the hottest club called Womb, breeding several floors of lasers, bumping bass and fist-pumping action.
Taxi, subway Japan Railways commuter train? Your best bet is to ride the subway. Taking a taxi is costly since most of the times it involves getting stuck in frozen traffic with the metre running. Taking the Tokyo Metro subway system is more efficient, despite being more complicated and harder on your feet. If you're venturing from one end of Tokyo to the other by subway, allot anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of transfers. For example, the journey from Ueno to Shibuya to Roppongi takes about a half-hour because it's a direct route on the subway. Meanwhile, Japan Railways, which operate the Shinkansen Bullet Train, aren't a bad option if there's a station nearby.