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. Akaoni

    Shibuya-ku | Wine Bars

    The emphasis here is nama, unrefined, unpasteurized sake. About 80 kinds from 60 brewing companies are available daily. You may want to sample...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Billboard Live Tokyo

    Roppongi | Live Music

    With everything from rock and J-pop to soul and funk, this three-story joint makes one of the best food-and-live music experiences in Tokyo...Read More

  • 10. Blue Note Tokyo

    Aoyama | Live Music

    This premier live jazz venue isn't for everyone: prices are high, sets short, and patrons packed in tight, sometimes sharing a table with strangers...Read More

  • 11. Cotton Club

    Marunouchi | Live Music

    In these intimate and luxurious surroundings you can listen to not only jazz but also a diverse range of music: soul, R&B, J-pop, and world...Read More

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  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Hot House

    Shinjuku-ku | Live Music

    This could very well be the world's smallest jazz club. An evening here is like listening to live jazz in your living room. Live acts are trios...Read More

  • 18. Jazz Spot Intro

    Shinjuku-ku | Live Music

    This small basement jazz joint is home to one of the best jazz experiences in Tokyo, with a Saturday "12-hour jam session" that stretches until...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Manda-la 2

    Musashino | Live Music

    Relaxed, quiet, and intimate, this local favorite in the bustling western suburb of Kichijoji attracts an eclectic group of performers. Cover...Read More

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