Tokyo is the biggest metropolis in Japan, so you can bet your last dollar that there’s a ton to do in Tokyo at night. And as a cocktail aficionado, I thought I’d put together of the best spots to hang out and have a drink. Some of these I went to first-hand, so you know this list is about as authentic as it gets.
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Where To Stay in Tokyo
Even if you plan to stay up all night, you’ll need somewhere to crash once the sun comes up. So to best experience Tokyo’s nightlife, I’d recommend Shinjuku Price Hotel. Shinjuku is home to both the Golden Gai’s bevy of bars and Kabukicho’s neon lights and nightclubs, so the hotel’s location is peak. You can get a taste of both without worrying about having to drag yourself halfway across the city once you’re ready for a nap.
PHOTO CREDITS: SHINJUKU PRINCE HOTEL VIA HOTELS.COM
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Tokyo at Night: The Best Nightlife Destinations
1. Golden Gai for Bars Galore
I absolutely loved my time here, so much so that I wrote a whole post for it. You can go read that if you want the deets. The short version: Golden Gai is a six-alley network of over 200 bars, clubs, and izakayas (Japanese pubs) in Shinjuku district. Most of the bars open around 5:30 pm and welcome visitors until 5 in the morning. They all have their own theme, too, so you can stroll around until you find one that suits your taste.
To find it, just head to the crossroads of Yasukuni-dori and Kuyakusho-dori – Golden Gai is right behind them. Depending on which side you’re entering from, you’ll turn into the alleys either at Mister Donut or Zirco Tokyo.
2. Meishu Center for Some Sake Tasting
I’ve always thought that one of the joys of traveling was getting to try out local customs and libations from around the world. And what would Tokyo at night be without a little taste of some traditional Japanese rice wine? Meishu Center is a bar where you can pick out your own bottle from the shelf and do a little taste testing. It’s located near Hamamatsucho Station, so getting there is easy, and the bottles all have labels to help make selection easier.
If you’re nervous about your Japanese not being good enough, no need to worry here. Swing by Monday or Friday night and there’ll be some English-speaking staff to help you out.
3. The Jade Room + Garden Terrace
Last time I was in Tokyo, I had some sky-high libations at our hotel, which was fun, but a little too bleh for this list. Besides, why settle for “high up” when you can go all the way to the roof? The Jade Room + Garden Terrace is a super ritzy bar on the 31st floor of the Tokyo EDITION (yes, all caps) in Toranomon. It has a stellar view, and at nighttime, you can see Tokyo Tower lit up like a Christmas tree.
I like that you can relax inside or on the terrace, decked out with enough greenery to make you feel like you’re in a forest. A forest that’s 460 feet up off the ground, hovering above a city. (Just like all those rooftop bars in Hong Kong.)
4. Kabukicho, Tokyo’s Red Light District
Kabukicho is a red light district in the heart of Shinjuku, one that’s always been geared towards nighttime entertainment, though it wasn’t mainly the “adult” type of entertainment until the 80s, like host and hostess clubs and strip tease clubs. That doesn’t mean you have to partake in the more risqué stuff to have a good time. The area boasts some classic theatres and some decent bars, and it’s the place to go if you want to see neon lights.
But, yeah, after the sun sets, it definitely adds a whole new layer of meaning to “Tokyo at night.”
5. Brooklyn Parlor
Brooklyn Parlor’s almost like Batman. During the day, a modest café frequented by local university students. Then at night, it becomes a veritable night club. A DJ comes by to pump techno and house music, or even live singers. They’ve got their own YouTube channel dedicated to it, if you want to check it out. Their last video was from 2020 (probably had to cut back during the pandemic), so I don’t know if the live music is still a thing, but the Parlor itself is still open and doing well.
6. Live It Up with Some Karaoke
Looking to sing your heart out without a crowd to judge you? Or maybe you just want to get a little privacy – the dense squeeze of people can get anyone feeling like a sardine. Luckily, karaoke bars are fun way to get some space of your own while still getting a full Tokyo at night experience. I’d suggest heading to Karaoke Kan in Shibuya, which has some pretty sweet all-you-can-drink deals.
7. Bar High Five
Bar High Five has your first class ticket to some high quality cocktails. Located in Ginza, this bar doesn’t have a menu. You just tell the bartender, an expert mixologist, your favorite flavors of drinks, and he’ll whip you up a custom cocktail. Reviews say it’s an especially great place to go if you’re a whisky lover. Just be warned – it is super pricey, and definitely more of a slightly snobby speakeasy vibe. It’s a place to try out if you’re serious about good liquor.
8. Shirube for a Classic Izakaya
While you can always visit one of the many pubs in Golden Gai, Shirube is the quintessential traditional izakaya (Japanese pub). It has tons of great, feel-good food for a decent price, plus some nice solid drinks. You’ll have to put on your Japanese pants for this one since the staff don’t speak much English, but if you can get over that hurdle, they’ll hand you an English menu and you might even get a glimpse of the chef at work.
9. Foodies Head to Piss Alley
Come on, I just had to include this one for its nickname. This street, also called Omoide Yokocho, is known for its street foods like yakitori, and earned the nickname “Piss Alley” back when it didn’t have any toilets. And no, I’m not going to ask nor look up anymore than that. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to think about it. Nor should you, if you’re looking to eat there – but don’t worry. It’s a lot more hygienic now, with great sake you can sip on while you admire the still-very-traditional buildings.
10. Shibuya Scramble Square
Shibuya’s Scramble Square is a pretty famous crossing, and you can see it from above at Shibuya Sky Observatory. One thing I like about this place is that it has both an open-air rooftop and an indoor viewing area. As someone who doesn’t always do so great with heights, it’s nice to be able to see a great view while being safely indoors.
Need More Posts on Japan?
Lucky you, I’m only getting started with what to do in Tokyo at night. Be sure to follow me for updates, and meanwhile, check out some of my other Asia itineraries and tips!
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