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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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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  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Pasela Grande

    Shibuya-ku | Live Music

    This large, glitzy karaoke joint has plenty of English songs and private rooms for small and large groups. Daytime rates (noon to 5pm) are ...Read More

  • 8. Pasela Roppongi

    Roppongi | Live Music

    This 10-story entertainment complex on the main Roppongi drag of Gaien-Higashi-dori has seven floors of karaoke rooms, some Bali-themed, with...Read More

  • 9. Shelter

    Shibuya-ku | Live Music

    An ever-popular, long-running venue attracts everyone from their late teens to early forties. This is a great place to catch promising local...Read More

  • 10. Shinjuku Pit Inn

    Shinjuku-ku | Live Music

    Most major jazz musicians have played at least once in this classic Tokyo club. The veteran club stages mostly mainstream fare with the odd...Read More

  • 11. Showboat

    Greater Tokyo | Live Music

    A small, basic venue in western Tokyo that's been going strong for more than a decade, Showboat attracts semiprofessional and professional performers...Read More

  • 12. Shibuya Shidax Village Club

    Shibuya-ku | Live Music

    Next to the corporate headquarters of Shidax, Japan's largest karaoke chain, this facility has 80 private karaoke rooms and a restaurant. Weekday...Read More

  • 13. Smash Hits

    Shibuya-ku | Live Music

    If karaoke just isn't karaoke for you without drunken strangers to sing to, this expat favorite is the place to be. It has about 50,000 international...Read More

  • 14. Sweet Basil 139

    Roppongi | Live Music

    Local and international acts run the musical gamut from smooth jazz and fusion to classical. A large dining area serves Italian dishes that...Read More

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