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Ultimate Guide to Tokyo at Night

Ultimate Guide to Tokyo at Night

By Hei Kin Wong | September 24 2021

Tokyo is one of the best cities in Asia, well known for not only its fantastic food and culture but also its amazing nightlife. The nightlife in Tokyo is certainly one of the highlights for most foreigners living in the city. Whether it’s bars or karaoke or nightclubs, this city has something to offer for everyone at night. For many foreigners who have just started their life in Tokyo, its nightlife might be overwhelming, and concerns over walking around the city at night are not uncommon. But worry not! We are here to help. From addressing the most common concerns over Tokyo at night to giving you a list of the best spots during nighttime, this article will give you everything you will need to know about Tokyo at night!

If you wish to know more about Japanese culture and nightlife, then make sure to check out our main page to learn more!

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    Is it safe to walk around Tokyo at night?

    The short answer is a solid Yes. Generally, Tokyo is safe to walk around, even very late into the night. Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world for a reason, more often or not you should be more concerned about missing the last train in Tokyo rather than getting mugged. Moreover, if you are not visiting the most common nightlife district in Tokyo, then your chance of getting into any trouble is more or less zero. That being said, if you are going to common nightlife spots like Shinjuku and Shibuya, then the general caution still applies. Don’t leave your valuables unattended and don’t drink too much if a friend is not with you. 

    If you are going to red-light districts like Kabukichō, then in addition to the general caution, you should also be careful to not get scammed. Be careful with the prices for bars and nightclubs and don’t get persuaded into any shady establishment. With that in mind, you will do just fine to go anywhere in Tokyo at night.

    Is there anything specific I should be careful of at night in Tokyo?

    Statistically, you should be more careful of tripping on the road after drinking in a bar rather than any actual crimes. But since we are talking about this already, the top three crimes you should look out for in Tokyo at night are - getting scammed, getting pickpocketed, and getting mugged. The solution to the first two is to be smart,  don’t get persuaded into any shady establishment and you’ll be fine. As for the final one, the simplest answer is to get a friend to come with you. There’s strength in numbers and you are much less likely a target when in groups.

    What do I do if I miss the last train?

    Karaoke

    Normally most Karaoke in Tokyo operates well after midnight, some even into the next morning. That being said, it’s the pandemic season at the time of writing so this isn’t really an option. However, if you are reading this article in the future then this is something that you should try out. 

    If you want to know more about the best karaoke spots in Tokyo, then check out our Guide to Karaoke in Tokyo to learn more! 

    Capsule Hotel

    If you are tired and just really want to get some rest, consider getting into one of the capsule hotels around Tokyo. While it was originally intended for tourists, they do provide a clean and comfortable environment for us who don’t want to take the overpriced taxi home. The price of these capsule hotels is usually reasonable and cheaper than getting a taxi. Most of them even have showers so that you could wash up and get ready for the next day. Services like dry cleaning and snacks are also available. Here’s an example of a good capsule hotel in Shinjuku.

    Manga / Internet Café

    Just sleeping in a tube might be too boring for some night owls. In that case, why not try out one of the numerous manga/internet Cafes all around Tokyo? Most of them (like this one in Ikebukuro) has everything you would need and more. Food and snacks bar, a sea of comics for an entire night and beyond,  some even have a game console installed in the room! If you are a huge fan of Japanese pop culture, then this is an excellent place to spend the rest of your night when you missed the last train.

    Tokyo bars at night
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    Covering the Basics: Where to go for bars and nightclubs

    For many, bars and nightclubs are the staple of nightlife in any big city. This is no exception for Tokyo at night. With thousands of bars and nightclubs located all around Tokyo, it can be overwhelming for those who just started their nightlife in Tokyo. But worry not! We have just the guide for you. Check out our guide on The Top 15 Bars in Tokyo if you want to grab a nice drink. And check out our guide on The Best Things to do at Night in Tokyo for our picks of the best nightclub in Tokyo!

    What are some unique activities I can do in Tokyo at night?

    Now that we have covered the safety aspect of Tokyo at night, let's talk about what you can do besides the basics. Well, Everyone knows about the bars and the izakaya and the nightclub. But Tokyo has much more to offer than just food and dance. We want to give you a few pointers on what else you can do if the traditional stuff is not what you are looking for.

    Jazz Bars in Tokyo

    Looking for some special and relaxing music while drinking with your friends? Then you might want to consider one of the many Jazz bars around Tokyo (Like this one called BlueNote near Shibuya). Jazz bars in Tokyo are some of the best around the world, and that attracts many talented musicians and fans from all over Japan and the world. If a cozy night with excellent music is what you are looking for, then check out this article to learn more.

    Batting Stadium

    Batting is a surprisingly popular leisure activity in Japan. Many Japanese still head to the batting center now and then after work to blow off some steam. If you are stressed out from a long day of work, why not give it a try? Most of the battle centers close at around 12 am to 1 am, therefore you could easily fit this in your schedule or as part of your Tokyo at night adventure. The only problem is that there’s a lack of a database for all the batting centers around Tokyo, so you might need to search harder for a batting center near you.

    Kabuki-za Theatre

    If you wish to experience a more traditional side of Japan while having a good time at night in Tokyo, this is the place. The Kabuki-za Theatre provides traditional kabuki drama for locals and foreigners alike. It is an important piece of Japanese culture that is difficult to see anywhere else and would certainly give you a memorable night. There is one hurdle to get through though. While the booking system is quite foreigner-friendly, the play itself is not. Therefore it is best to have a good grasp of the Japanese language before going to see the play. 

    Interested in Japanese culture? Then check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Culture to learn more!

    Trying out a manga or internet cafe

    While we sort of talked about this in the previous section, spending a night inside a manga or internet cafe is an experience you would only find in Tokyo. There are manga and internet cafes all over Tokyo, many are also located right next to the train station, making it extremely easy for those who want to take a break from their busy schedule. If you are looking for cafes that are both cheap and convenient, then check out this article on some of the best manga cafes around Tokyo.

    Where can I go if I don’t drink (Or can’t drink)?

    While we have mentioned quite a few things that you can do in Tokyo at night without drinking (batting centers and karaoke), there’s just one more thing that you might want to consider for your nightlife in Tokyo.

    Game Center / Arcade

    Yes, you can also head to the arcade in the afternoon, but going there at night gives you a different view of Tokyo’s Game center. You would often find Japanese of all ages and professions visiting the Game centers in Tokyo. From businessmen to students, everyone who enjoys arcades will head to places like Taito station every night. Game centers in Tokyo are usually most crowded on Friday night, and if you wish to see Japanese playing your favorite arcade at a high level, then visiting a game center at night might not be a bad idea. Not to mention this is a great opportunity to talk to Japanese who share a similar passion.

    Taking a bath at a Sento / Onsen

    This one is a bit unorthodox, but a unique experience nonetheless. Taking a bath at a Sento or an Onsen is just as much of a nighttime experience in Tokyo as going to the bar. This is suitable for those who have a family in Tokyo or just want to take a break in a relaxing bath. Despite being a shining metropolis. Tokyo still has some great Onsen and bathhouses within the city. Some are more modern and others would take you back to the 80s. Check out this article if this is something you want to do in Tokyo at night.

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    What are the popular nightlife spots for Tokyo at night?

    There are numerous places you can go and spend your entire night in Tokyo, many of which you most likely already know. Therefore, the purpose of this section is not just for those who want to look for the best spots for certain nightlife activities, but also to offer some insights into these areas that new foreigners might not know.

    More bars at night Tokyo

    Shinjuku – Shopping Paradise

    Shinjuku is the staple for nightlife in Tokyo. But it is more famous for its red-light district – Kabukichō. Renowned for its Hostess Bar, Soapland, and everything that relates to Japan’s adult industry. If this is the experience you are looking for then you will not be disappointed. However, many of the services are not foreigner-friendly. More often than not, if you don’t have a good grasp of Japanese, many establishments will simply refuse to serve you. That being said, Shinjuku is more than just Kabukichō and there are unique bars and foods you can enjoy in the area. For example: 

    Omoide Yokocho

    A Narrow alley located near the west exit of JR Shinjuku station, it is one of the most important nightlife destinations for Japanese and foreigners alike. There are dozens of traditional food stalls within this alley and it often gets crowded at night. From Japanese businessmen to Europeans, you can watch and interact with all kinds of people living in Tokyo. The food is also excellent, with freshly grilled seafood and chicken being some of the best.

    Lcoation: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023

    Gay Bars

    Located in Shinjuku Ni-chome, this area has the largest concentration of gay bars in Tokyo. While each bar and nightclub in the area are tiny, the abundance of shops makes up for the size and provides a good variety of bars to choose from. Check out this article if you want to visit there yourself.

    Golden Gai

    You can not talk about the nightlife in Shinjuku without mentioning the Golden Gai. The street (Gai) consists of a collection of bars and izakaya in six narrow alleyways which are connected by even narrower walkways. While the streets are surrounded by modern architecture, heading inside the streets will take you back to an older Japan with a unique charm. The poorly ventilated streets, the old and stretched stickers on the walls, and the smell of cocktails are all key features of this not-so-secret place. If you are someone who enjoys the feels of the bars any much as the alcohol itself, then this is a must-go for the best nighttime destination in Tokyo.

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    Shibuya – Excellent Bars

    To many Japanese, Shibuya is just as good if not better to enjoy Tokyo at night. It has already been a center for teen cultures and a great shopping center. It is also known for its colorful nightlife. Since there are so many people enjoying the nightlife at Shibuya, it can be quite an energetic city even past midnight. Here are some interesting spots if you wish to spend your night at Shibuya.

    Shibuya Mark City

    This area is especially popular in the Japanese circle. Not only because of the restaurant and bars within the mall. But also the izakaya and bars that are underneath the mall. It is where Japanese businessmen spend their happy hour and where college students party. While the food is great and the experience can be amazing, it is one of the less foreigner-friendly spots in Shibuya. Most of the izakaya will not have an English menu and you will be expected to know some of the basic manners while visiting an izakaya. (the mall itself is quite foreigner-friendly, but the bars and izakaya around it — not so much). If you wish to experience Shibuya nightlife just as the Japanese would, then we recommend you do some planning before heading out. The best solution here is to bring a Japanese friend with you.

    Alternatively, you might want to learn some Japanese yourself before venturing into a deeper side of Shibuya’s nightlife. Here at Japan Switch, we provide affordable and practical online Japanese lessons so that you could experience Tokyo at night just as any other Japanese would!

    Hyakkendana

    A traditional drinking street that has become a staple of Shibuya’s nightlife. This street is well known in both Japanese and foreign circles (at least for those who have lived here for a time). Many restaurants within this street have withstood the test of time, a lot of them are also featured in tourist magazines as the best restaurant in Shibuya. It has a unique feeling to it, being this backstreet of Shibuya that contrasts with the modern stores and skyscrapers Shibuya is known for. Just make sure to make the right turn while visiting this street as the red-light district of Shibuya is just beside it.

    Roppongi – Center of Nightclubs

    Another popular destination for Japanese and foreigners alike, Roppongi is often compared to Shibuya and Shinjuku as the go-to places for Tokyo’s nightlife. That being said, Roppongi also has its unique areas and bars that attract both locals and foreigners. Here’s a brief introduction to the areas of Roppongi.

    Roppongi Downtown North

    This is where some of the best bars and nightclubs in Roppongi are located. Some nightclubs in the area include V2 Tokyo and Esprit Tokyo. The north is also where you would find many of the Karaoke shops. Needless to say, it is the most popular area within Roppongi. The downside is that the bars here are generally less friendly than those in the south

    Roppongi Downtown South

    The landmark of the southern area of Roppongi is DonQuiote. Aside from the more foreigner-friendly bars and nightclubs, there is also more nightclub staff that aim to “persuade” foreigners into their shop. If a bar you like happens to be in this area then you should be extra cautious with your personal belongings.

    Ginza – Premium Experience

    This is a rather special nightlife district in Tokyo, as it is less frequented by both young Japanese and foreigners. That being said, it does not make Ginza’s nightlife any less amazing than the areas mentioned above. You can even argue that you find the best nightlife experiences in all of Tokyo in Ginza — if you have the Yen. Just like its daytime reputation, Ginza is where you go when you are looking for a more premium experience. Bars and nightclubs in Ginza are hidden on the upper floors of unremarkable buildings. However, rest assured that the food and experience they provide are among the best Tokyo has to offer.

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    What are the best places to see Tokyo at night?

    Sensoji

    I’m sure that most of you who have decided to come to Tokyo have visited this famous Temple in Asakusa before. That being said, most people went there in the morning, which missed out on the surprisingly stunning night view of Sensoji. The main shrine and towers are lit up such that you could still see them. Visiting the temple at night also meant it’s less crowded, providing a different experience of this historical temple. 

    Tokyo Sky Tree

    You probably don’t need me to tell you that one of the highest buildings at the center of Tokyo also happens to be one of the best spots to watch Tokyo’s night view. That being said, the Skyward Eye corridor is 450 meters above ground and the night view from the is simply breathtaking. The tower opens until 10 pm so you can have a nice dinner before ending your day by watching the beautiful night view of Tokyo.

    Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm

    Odaiba Marine Park

    The Odaiba Seaside Park is a popular destination not only because of the stunning view, but it’s also a top destination for a romantic date. Looking towards the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower, the park gives a unique view of Tokyo at night. Furthermore, many of the entertainment and shopping spots are also near Marine Park, meaning you would have an easy time planning out your trip. There are also firework shows and special events during summertime, which makes this the perfect spot for an unforgettable summer date.

    Location: 1-4, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 135-0091

    Opening Hours: All-day

    Roppongi Hills Observatory

    One of the more classic observatories in Tokyo, it is one of the best places to take pictures of the Tokyo Tower. It is also another popular dating spot for the locals. Finally, it opens until 11 pm which gives you a lot of leeway on how you can plan your night.

    Location: 6 Chome-10-1 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032

    Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm (to 1 am on Friday and Saturday)

    Senso-Ji at night

    Concluding Thoughts

    Tokyo is full of all kinds of unique and amazing nightlife activities and places. Whether you are going to bars and nightclubs or going for some late-night karaoke with friends, Tokyo at night is bound to have something for everyone.

    While we have introduced many places and things you can go to or do in Tokyo at night, some of them are not as foreigner-friendly as others. Here at Japan Switch, we can provide online Japanese lessons that will teach you everything you will need to fully experience Tokyo at night. If you are short on time, then check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Conversation to learn some of the most common and useful phrases you will need.

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