in the evening that Tokyo really comes alive. Busy every
night, the vibrant Roppongi district has a profusion
of clubs, bars, and discos, visited by the smart ex-pat crowd as
well as servicemen from the US military bases. Shinjuku,
on the other hand, has a more Japanese scene, with an incredible
range of eating and drinking places, from huge beer halls to small
intimate theme bars, clubs, cinemas, massage parlours and Japan’s
largest gay scene.
Dress codes are not overly strict. Entrance fees to clubs
are expensive but normally include a couple of drinks.
Cover charges are general in izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and bars.
Drink prices depend on the surroundings and vary from the reasonable
to the expensive. If in doubt, inquire before ordering. If you are
tempted by 1 of the city’s many ‘hostess clubs’,
be advised that a beer in the company of a beautiful companion can
easily cost ¥10,000. Tokyo’s gay bars
are dotted in the Shinjuku 2–chome area.
They are usually wary of foreign customers and it's best to explore
them with a Japanese companion. Many major hotels have ‘sky
bars’, offering striking night views of the city.
There are no specific licensing hours in Tokyo,
however the minimum drinking age is 20 years. Admission
fees and opening times differ widely and the Tokyo nightlife scene
is constantly changing – for listings of what’s on and
details about the latest hotspots, visitors are recommended to check
the English-language Metropolis
or Tokyo Journal.
For a characteristically Japanese ‘pub’ experience,
izakaya offer beer, sake and a large variety of
Japanese dishes. The most accessible to foreigners are the chains,
Tengu and Murasaki. Both have many locations throughout
the city and have a vibrant atmosphere, rational prices and convenient
For a more international scene, go to Roppongi
and visit the brash, foreigner-friendly Gas Panic,
3–15–24 Roppongi. At nearby Castillo,
6–1–8 Roppongi, the non-stop disco classics mean the
small dance floor is usually busier than the bar. For a pint of
Guinness, try The Tokyoers, 3–28–9
Shinjuku, or experience rock‘n’roll Japanese style at
the very loud and sordid Rolling Stone, 3–2–7
Las Chicas, 5–47–6
Jingumae, Harajuku, is a stylish bar/restaurant complex; the leafy
courtyard is a fantastic place to drink on a summer’s evening.
Bar Isn’t It?, Roppongi, Minatoku, opposite
the Shibuya Bunkamura art centre, is a favourite hangout and has
the added appeal that all food and drinks are ¥500. For a more
sophisticated experience, try Hotel Okura’s Highlander,
2–10–4 Toranomon, a trendy bar offering a selection
of more than 200 whiskies, or the New York Bar,
a sophisticated jazz bar situated on the 52nd floor of the swanky
Park Hyatt Hotel, 3–7–1–2 Nishi-Shinjuku.
gambling is tightly controlled in Japan and although there
are now moves towards liberalisation, venues are still very restricted.
Central Tokyo’s only casino is situated in
the Tokyo Dome complex, 1–3 Koraku, Bunkyo
Ku. This casino is open to non-members, however Westerners might
find the blackjack and slot machines fairly tame. The dress
code is smart – a jacket and tie are mandatory for men.
The minimum age for entry is 20 years and a passport
will be necessary.
Club Asia, 1–8 Maruyamacho, Shibuya,
hosts major DJ events and ‘The Ring’,
a monthly gay/straight dance party. Take a break from the dance
floor and surf the internet in an adjacent room. The Liquid
Room, 1–20–1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, is a stylish
venue for live events and 1-off club nights, while Velfarre,
7–14–22 Roppongi, is a large multi-level disco palace
with a dress code and an expensive admission charge. The slick Lexington
Queen, 3–13–14 Roppongi, is favourite
of the showbiz/model crowd and an excellent place to spot celebrities,
or you can join the hip student crowd at the progressive venue,
Yellow, 1–10–11 Nishi-Azabu. For a
different rhythm, try Salsa Sudada, 7–13–8
Roppongi, for a thrilling mix of cocktails and Latin sounds.
Tokyo’s local pop and rock scene revolves around ‘live
houses’ – dark disco-like clubs with a small
stage. Club Quattro, 32–13 Udagawacho, Shibuya,
and Crocodile, 6–18–8 Jingumae, Harajuku,
are among the famous names. Milk, 1–13–3
Nishi-Ebisu, a trendy, indie rock music venue, is a club/live house
hybrid. Tokyo’s best jazz venue is Blue Note,
6–3–16 Minami-Aoyama, which often attracts quality international
acts. The 2 main venues for major rock acts are The Budokan,
2–3 Kitanomaru-Koen, Chiyoda-ku, and Tokyo Dome,
1–3 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku. Tickets are expensive
and should be booked well in advance.