Tokyo

The sheer diversity of nightlife in Tokyo is breathtaking. Rickety street stands sit yards away from luxury hotels, and wallet-crunching hostess clubs can be found next to cheap and raucous rock bars. Whatever your style, you'll find yourself in good company if you venture out after dark.

Most bars and clubs in the main entertainment districts have printed price lists, often in English. Drinks generally cost ¥800–¥1,200, although some small exclusive bars and clubs can set you back a lot more. Be wary of establishments without visible price lists. Hostess clubs and small backstreet bars known as "snacks" or "pubs" can be particularly treacherous territory for the unprepared. That drink you've just ordered could set you back a reasonable ¥1,000; you might, on the other hand, have wandered unknowingly into a place that charges you ¥30,000 up front for a whole bottle—and slaps a ¥20,000 cover charge on top. If the bar has hostesses, it's often unclear what the companionship of one will cost you, but you can bet a lot. Ignore the persuasive shills on the streets of Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, who will try to hook you into their establishment. There is, of course, plenty of safe ground: in hotel lounges, jazz clubs, Irish-themed pubs, sake bars, and sedate retreats where the social lubricant flows past millions of tonsils nightly.

Major nightlife districts in Tokyo include Aoyama, Ginza, Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinbashi, and Shinjuku. Each has a unique atmosphere, clientele, and price level.

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  • 1. Kamiya Bar

    Asakusa | Bars/Pubs

    Tokyo's oldest Western-style bar hasn't had a face-lift for decades (the main building is registered as a tangible cultural property) and that...Read More

  • 2. New York Bar

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Even before Lost in Translation introduced the Park Hyatt's signature lounge to filmgoers worldwide, New York Bar was a local Tokyo favorite...Read More

  • 3. Agave

    Roppongi | Bars/Pubs

    In this authentic Mexican cantina, your palate will be tempted by a choice of more than 550 kinds of tequilas and mescals—making this the world...Read More

  • 4. Aiiro Cafe

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Almost every great gay night out begins at this welcoming street-corner pub with a large red shrine gate, where the patrons spill out onto the...Read More

  • 5. Albatross G

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    This tiny, artsy bar and its red walls, hung with paintings and deer heads, and many chandeliers attracts crowds with its friendliness and...Read More

  • 6. Arty Farty

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Cheap and cheesy, Arty Farty is a fun club, complete with a ministage and stripper pole. Those with aversions to Kylie or Madonna need not bother...Read More

  • 7. Bar Six

    Asakusa | Bars/Pubs

    Should a cocktail be on your mind, hit up Bar Six, on the sixth floor of the Amuse Museum, and enjoy the views of the Senso-ji Complex from...Read More

  • 8. Donzoko

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    This venerable bar claims to be Shinjuku's oldest—established in 1951—and has hosted Yukio Mishima and Akira Kurosawa among many other luminaries...Read More

  • 9. Dragon Men

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Tokyo's swankiest gay lounge, the neon-lit space would look right at home in New York or Paris. ...Read More

  • 10. GB

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Video monitors at this club show contemporary music hits. On weekends the place is packed with rather quiet and reserved gentlemen, mostly in...Read More

  • 11. Ginza Lion

    Ginza | Bars/Pubs

    This bar, in business since 1899 and occupying the same stately Chuo-dori location since 1934, is remarkably inexpensive for one of Tokyo's...Read More

  • 12. Gold Finger

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    This relaxed bar for "women who love women" is a cozy den of vintage lamps and cafélike ambience. Men are welcome on Friday; Saturday is women-only. ...Read More

  • 13. La Jetée

    Shinjuku-ku | Bars/Pubs

    It should come as no surprise that French cinema is the proprietor's big passion: a film lover's paradise, La Jetée is covered in Euro-cinema...Read More

  • 14. Montoak

    Shibuya-ku | Bars/Pubs

    Positioned halfway down the prestigious shopping street Omotesando-dori, within spitting distance of such fashion giants as Gucci, Louis Vuitton...Read More

  • 15. Peter: The Bar

    Marunouchi | Bars/Pubs

    Like most of Tokyo's high-end hotels, the Peninsula has a high-rise bar. But unlike many staid hotel bars, this 24th-floor spot with a forest...Read More

  • 16. Popeye

    Greater Tokyo | Bars/Pubs

    Of the staggering 70 beers on tap here, 70% are top-quality Japanese microbrews, from pilsners to IPAs to barley wines. The owner is one of...Read More

  • 17. Radio

    Aoyama | Bars/Pubs

    Koji Ozaki is the closest thing Tokyo has to a superstar bartender. This demure septuagenarian, who still works one week per month, has been...Read More

  • 18. Star Bar Ginza

    Ginza | Bars/Pubs

    It's often said that Ginza has all the best bars, and Star Bar may be the best of the lot. Owner and bartender Hisashi Kishi is the president...Read More

  • 19. Tatemichiya

    Shibuya-ku | Bars/Pubs

    The concrete walls are adorned with rock musicians' autobiographies and posters of the Sex Pistols and Ramones, who also provide the sound track...Read More

  • 20. Top of Tree

    Asakusa | Bars/Pubs

    Perched on the top of the Solamachi complex, this bar-restaurant attracts locals and tourists for overwhelming, breathtaking views of Tokyo...Read More

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