No Train Home? No Problem!
By Leslie Lee III
It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. You put in some extra time at work. You run a crosstown errand. You meet up with a friend for a drink, which turns into three. You look at your phone and realize with horror; you’ve missed your last train home.
Yeah, you’re stuck, but you’re stuck in the greatest city in the world, and it’s not so bad. You probably already have a favorite cafe, capsule hotel, or watering hole to pass the time in. Here are a few more ways to make the most of your night the next time you miss the last train.
Go Clubbing at Fai Aoyama
There’s an endless selection of clubs in Tokyo with big name DJs, multi-million dollar sound systems, blinding light shows, heaving masses of sweaty humanity, overpriced drinks, huge cover charges, and nowhere to sit. If you’re looking for a less hectic place to get your groove on, Fai Aoyama comes highly recommended.
The crowd is made up of veterans of the Tokyo house music scene and they provide a lively, but mature, atmosphere. There’s plenty of room to dance and several spots to hang back in the corner and drink. The decks are manned by some of Tokyo’s best DJs. Fai’s bi-monthly #401 House Music Dance Party event keeps things fresh by featuring different crews on each event. If you’re looking to hear the next big sounds in house, trance, and beyond, spend your night at Fai Aoyama.
H2 Aoyama Building B1・B2, 5-10-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku (Omotesando Station).Open every Friday and Saturday, 11PM-Late, ~¥2000-2500. More information: http://www.fai-aoyama.com
Alternative: Red Shoes is an artsy juke joint that features an ever-changing mix of live bands, DJs, and even some burlesque events. Chigger Minami Aoyama Building B1, 6-7-14 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku (Omotesando Station), Open 8PM-4AM, Admission varies. More information: http://www.redshoes.jp
Relax at Nagomi Cafe
There’s no shortage of internet cafes in Tokyo. These multi-faceted wonders serve as bars, libraries, love hotels, and living rooms for countless Tokyo-ites. Nagomi Style Cafe offers all the conveniences of an internet cafe mixed with flourishes of Japanese culture. The cafe’s lobby has traditional Japanese decor and the staff wear kimonos, but Nagomi is far from just a stuffy edo experience. It’s home to several Akiba pop live events, and a recent seasonal promotion saw sections of the cafe decorated with pictures of “great butts.” The staff also get in on the fun with anime-inspired costumes and personas.
Suehiro Building B1, 6-14-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku (Akihabara Station) Open 24/7, Rates start at ¥300 for a half hour stay. More information: http://nagomi-cafe.com
Alternative: If your idea of relaxation involves unplugging entirely, head to the onsen at La Qua. It’s centrally located and open all night. 1−1−1 Kasuga, Bunkyo (Korakuen Station) Open 11AM-9AM, ~¥4700 for late night service. More information: http://www.laqua.jp
Enjoy a Stogie at 10th Street Lounge Cigar and Jazz Bar
Work up north? There’s no need to rush home to make that last connection. Hiding a few blocks from Koshigaya station is the 10th Street Lounge, a luxurious cigar and jazz bar. The velvet drapes, red leather chairs, and all wood interior create an atmosphere rarely seen this side of 1960. It’s the sort of place that makes you feel like an honorary member of the Rat Pack. While the drink menu mostly sticks to the basics, the cigar list is extensive. You can enjoy authentic Cuban cigars without any trade embargoes getting in the way.
2F 2-63-1 Akayamachō, Koshigaya-shi, Saitama (Koshigaya Station), Open 8PM-3AM. More information: http://10th-street.com
Alternative: Ready to take your karaoke game to the next level? Ban Kara offers karaoke with a stage and live backing band. Crest Roppongi 3F, 7−9−3 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Roppongi Station), Open 7PM-Late, ¥1000/hr after Midnight. More information: http://www.ban-kara.com
Enjoy Healthy treats at Home
Conbinis, McDonald’s, hot bowls of unidentified meat… there’s plenty of less-than-healthy options for late night food in the city. If you’re looking for something a bit healthier, just go Home. Located a few minutes from Roppongi’s main party strip, Home is an all-organic restaurant that serves healthy dishes all night long.
Home’s exterior is decorated like a southern American garden, but the interior is modern and elegant. Handmade Akita sausages, stuffed mushroom tapas, and a seasonal veggie plates are just some of the sumptuous dishes on offer. The food is complemented by a range of craft beer, wine, and organic tea. Cosmo Roppongi 3F, 3-17-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Roppongi Itchome Station), Lunch 11:30-3:00PM, Dinner 6:00PM-Midnight on Monday-Thursday, 6:00PM-5:00AM on Friday, Saturday, and days before holidays, Closed on Sundays. More information: http://www.home-roppongi.com
Alternative: Get your own kitchen in order with a stop at Hanamasa supermarket. Their 24/7 stores offer great deals on bulk size food, especially meat. Various Locations. More information: http://www.hanamasa.co.jp
Watch a Movie at Shin Bungeiza
The chrome and glass exterior looks like your average Tokyo multiplex, but inside Shin Bungeiza is a film aficionado’s paradise. Located just a few blocks away from Ikebukuro station, this theatre is well-known by film buffs worldwide. It’s one of the few art house theatres remaining in Tokyo and specializes in double features highlighting the great films of the past. Kurosawa, Fulci, Carpenter, east and west, high brow classics and genre gems all find a place at Shin Bungeiza.
Every Saturday the theater hosts an all night mini-film festival. Recent subjects included the works of Lars Von Trier, classic Toho Science Fiction, and Matthew McConaughey themed nights. Special editions even include talks with film creators. You may not have planned on hanging out with McConaughey all night, but it’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.
3F Maruhan Ikebukuro Building, 1-43-5 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku (Ikebukuro Station), tickets start at ¥2100. http://www.shin-bungeiza.com
Alternative: For movie-lovers looking for more modern fare, the Wald 9 multiplex keeps a screens running to 6AM, even on weeknights. Sanchome East Building 9th Floor, 3-1-26 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (Shinjuku Station), Tickets start at ¥2100 in advance, http://wald9.com
Game retro-style at A-Button
Akihabara is where the gods of digital culture dwell and Game Bar A-Button is one of their most venerated shrines. A-Button is to video games what Shin-Bungeiza is to movies. The small bar is packed floor to ceiling with consoles and controllers that span the entire history of arcade, PC, and home game systems. If you had planned on spending the night at home running Destiny raids, A-Button is a great alternative. Numerous luminaries in the Japanese gaming scene are regulars. Spend the night chatting up game designers while playing the classics.
Fifth Mitsumasa Building 1F, 1-13-9 Taito, Taito-ku (Akihabara Station), Open 5:00PM-Midnight, 5:00PM-4:00AM on Friday, Saturday, and days before holidays, Closed on Mondays, ~¥300-500 table charge. More information: http://a-button.jp
Alternative: If your idea of gaming involves darts, pool cues, and poker chips, stop by your nearest Bagus. With nearly a dozen locations dotting the greater Tokyo area, the Bagus chain’s Western-style game lounges are a convenient late night option. Various locations. More information: http://www.bagus-99.com