A music lover’s paradise, Tokyo’s alleyways, basements and arenas offer a mind-boggling array of music venues to choose from. Whether you are into hip-hop, rock, jazz or electronica, these five hotspots are a good launching point for any music connoisseur.
Best Dance Club: Sound Museum Vision
Sound Museum Vision is a subterranean answer to Tokyo’s cubicle dance clubs. In late 2011, Global Hearts, the same people that produced Daikanyama’s Air, opened Vision. Located in Shibuya with a capacity of 1,500, the club is divided into four rooms, each having its own ambiance and genre of music, ranging from hip-hop and house to techno and other audio textures. The biggest room, Gaia, has a sound system that would’ve made Uncle Jamm’s Army proud. Vision has hosted acts like Ben UFO, John Digweed, and Pete Rock.
For Sound Museum Vision’s contact details, see our Concierge listing.
Best Open Mic Night: Ruby Room
Nestled in a Shibuya alleyway, Ruby Room is a bite-sized venue that attracts a lot of foreigners and partygoers. It’s the jump off for experiencing local and pioneering artists. Belle & Sebastian, Basement Jaxx, and Hernan Cattaneo have performed there. The club’s legendary open mic has been running on Tuesday nights for 20 years. Aspiring artists gather to develop their craft and cross-pollinate. The open mic has helped turn Ruby into a mainstay and a cultivator of Tokyo’s music scene. Whether, it’s rock, techno, punk, rap, or folk, all genres are welcomed.
For Ruby Room’s contact details, see our Concierge listing.
Best Jazz Jams: Jazz Spot Intro
Three to four times a week, Jazz Spot Intro has live jazz sessions that cook well into the night. Professional and amateur musicians get together to jam. Among the many notable names that have joined the sessions, Larry Coryell, Hino Terumasa, and Herbie Hancock have given impromptu performances. Since 1988 Intro has been the place for rare musical moments, witnessed by small audiences that huddled into its limited space. Not far from Takadanobaba Station, Intro is a capsule of a venue, but its rich cultural heritage has made it a Tokyo staple. Behind the bar there’s a vinyl selection from which patrons can request songs, encouraging people to listen to music outside the demystifying language of an algorithm. Intro isn’t just for jazz aficionados – the uninitiated do get converted.
For Jazz Spot Intro’s contact details, see our Concierge listing.
Best Electronic Artists: Circus Tokyo
Circus is credited for pushing the sound of tomorrow’s electronic music. In October of 2015, the venue took over the space of club Amate-Raxi, and its been debuting untapped artists ever since. Circus hosts DJ’s and beat makers from around the world, handpicking producers of lo-fi house, drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, and EDM. Big names like The Black Madonna, Mall Grab, Daddy G, and Roni Size have spun there.
For Circus Tokyo’s contact details, see our Concierge listing.
Best Jazz Greats: Blue Note Tokyo
As part of the global Blue Note chain of premier jazz clubs, Blue Note Tokyo is the most prominent jazz venue in the city. The club opened its doors in 1988 and over the years it has built a reputation as one of the world’s top venues for jazz. Its been the stage for just about every jazz great: Tony Bennett, Chick Corea, Roberta Flack, Maceo Parker, etc. Various artists have released live albums from their performances. The venue also hosts blues, latin, soul, and world music. But the high caliber of artists definitely reflects the pricey tickets. Be prepared to empty your bank account and afterwards, feel good that it was worth it.
For Blue Note Tokyo’s contact details, see our Concierge listing.