There are 3 very Japanese things you can do in Tokyo at night (in addition to going to a Kabuki show): visit a local bar, sing in a karaoke and enjoy the cityscape at night.
While I was in Japan last week for work, I had mostly evenings to discover Tokyo and these are some of the best spots I encountered which I’d like to share with you.
Check out my recommendations of the best restaurants in Tokyo if you feel hungry too!
Tiny bars and karaoke clubs in Tokyo
Bars in Tokyo are pretty safe, and from experience, night life ends relatively early, although I hear there are also areas where you will be able to party until dawn – and longer.
Here are 2 bars and activity I found really really special:
I don’t even know the address of this bar because we bumped into it by chance while walking through Minamiazabu, the embassy district in Tokyo. It is close to the Minamiazabu post office, I hope this helps the most adventurous among you.
In this very small bar you will be transported back to the 1950s and 1960s. It is full of memorabilia from those periods and the bartender is a 70-year old lady in traditional kimono that serves divine spirits, including some she prepares herself, such as ananas-infused vodka. Don’t expect hype cocktails here, it’s all about spirits.
And she plays equally fantastic music, when we were there it was excellent flamenco. It is so incredibly odd to find this in Tokyo, which makes it all the more precious. East meets West in the best possible way. She closes at 1pm but let us stay longer, because we were so talkative 🙂
Another tiny bar, another out of this world moment, much closer to what you would expect from top notch hotel bars, but with a definitely Japanese flair: Gen Yamamoto (by the name of its owner).
I only tried one Japanese whisky (Al Koji) as I’m not a whisky fan, but it was the whole service around it and the atmosphere that made this experience quite unique.
There are only 8 seats so probably best to book or go either early or late.
Address: Anniversary Building 1F, 1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku,
If you are in Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza you won’t have any trouble finding good karaoke bars. You can book rooms for you and your friends or family for as long as you like and you pay by the time you spend there. The beer is cheap and there is a lot of fun to be had.
I’m not a big karaoke fan but this is definitely a must-do when in Japan (and Asia in general). Big Echo is a chain of karaoke bars and they have decent prices and bars in all the areas I mentioned above.
Tokyo from above
The list wouldn’t be complete without some recommendations of where to enjoy a view of Tokyo at night from above. If you think this is a tourist thing, you are right, it absolutely is! Yet it is an incredible sight that will remind you of how big Tokyo really is, and make you feel all tiny and insignificant.
I’m sharing all these adresses in the hope that it will inspire you to go out and explore Tokyo, but also to hear from others about their favourite things to do at night in Tokyo. I missed out on some good jazz I believe, and of course should add kabuki or any traditional show to my list for next time, so if you have good tips, please, send them my way.
What is your favourite place to hang out at night in Tokyo?