Tokyo Nightlife: A Tale of Two Cities

Features Tokyo Life - September 20th, 2011
TN

by Chris Jones

Tokyo is a fascinating city that serves from the best type of multiple personality disorder — bland and orderly by day but coming alive at night with one of the world’s richest, most vibrant nightlife scenes.

Locals and tourists alike pour out into the city’s entertainment districts such as Ginza, Kabuki-cho, and Roppongi each night, with very different experiences and options available to you based on whether you’re a gaijin or out on the town with local Japanese speakers.

If you’re into the club scene, you’ll need to keep some basic facts in mind, most importantly that the legal drinking age in Japan is 20 and most clubs do check for ID at the door.

The city metro system also is closed during prime party hours (12 AM to 5 AM) so if you’re not willing to stay out after 5 AM you’ll either be walking home or taking a pricey cab. Cover costs vary but it generally costs between US$20-$50 per person to get into most Tokyo clubs, so don’t be shocked at the price of admission.

As far as top clubs, ageHa is one of the most well-known, and for good reason as the giant warehouse just outside of metropolitan Tokyo plays host to up to 5,000 clubbers on four different dance floors, with some of the world’s top DJs plying their trade.

Womb is another top club that attracts amazing DJs, with an extensive laser light system and the biggest mirror ball in Japan. Club Asia is the top choice for many as far as the Shibuya club scene, playing to packed houses on the weekends.

Unlike cities such as Las Vegas or Macau, you won’t be able to play casino games or enjoy similar entertainment options in Tokyo, but that’s barely missed with all the other available options. Just as is the case in Vegas, if you have the right connections you’ll also have a chance to experience some of the more unique sides of Tokyo nightlife, including geisha bars and hostess bars.

Primarily for Japanese men, geisha bars aren’t quite as naughty as they sound; trained female entertainers play traditional Japanese instruments and sing and entertain their typically wealthy male clients.

It’s all above-board with nothing naughty going on, as is the case with hostess bars, where men buy hostesses drinks for the chance to simply sit, drink, and talk with an attractive women who always has a sympathetic ear for whatever you have to say. If you’re not Japanese, though, you’ll need to be invited in by an existing patron or member, as non-Japanese can’t just walk in off the street.

Tourists will also find plenty of Western-themed bars, as well as the ubiquitious topless bars and erotic dance clubs that you’ll find in major cities around the world.

Plenty of musicians and singers perform in Tokyo as well, with major concerts offering even more entertainment options as far as nightlife in Tokyo.