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Tokyo Night Life

Tokyo Night Life Overview

If youre thinking about a night out on the town, keep in mind that many clubs and bars wont welcome outsiders unless theyre introduced by their regular customers. And Tokyo nightclubs are definitely for the young (rarely older than age 30), and the action doesnt get under way until about 10 pm. Usual hours for bars and clubs are 6 pm-midnight, sometimes later on weekends.

Theres a concentration of gay and lesbian bars in the Shinjuku 2-chome area, but many are private clubs. Its best to go with someone familiar with the area who knows where foreigners are welcome.

Also on the nightlife landscape are hostess bars and karaoke bars. Unless youre desperate to try a hostess bar, where a pretty woman entices you into buying very expensive drinks for her, its best to steer clear. You may want to skip the karaoke bars (unless your Japanese business associates insist), because most of the available music is Japanese.


Cerveza—Cerveza serves up beer from all over the world. Closed Sunday. Coco Roppongi Building, basement, 3-11-10 Roppongi (Minato-ku). Phone 3478-0077.

Rokkon—Heres a good, atmospheric place to enjoy sake, plus traditional Japanese dishes. Both Western- and Japanese-style seating is available, but theres no English-language menu. Monday-Saturday till 4 am, Sunday and holidays till 11 pm. 3-17-25 TK Building, B1, Nishi Azabu (Minato-ku). Phone 3405-6950.


Velfarre—Velfarre is one of the biggest clubs, popular with the under-30 crowd. Open daily. Cover charge is ¥3,000-¥4,000 for men, ¥2,000-¥3,000 for women. 7-14-22 Roppongi (Minato-ku). Phone 3402-8000.

Yellow—Yellow has some of the citys most popular music and events and a hip clientele. ID checks are common because of its youthful crowd. Monday-Saturday from 8 pm. Cover charge ¥3,500. 1-10-11 Nishi Azabu (Minato-ku, near Roppongi station on the Hibiya line). Phone 3479-0690.


Birdland—Offers live acoustic jazz Tuesday-Saturday; Monday its Hawaiian music. Closed Sunday. Cover charge ¥3,000. Roppongi Square Building, B2, 3-10-3 Roppongi (Minato-ku). Phone 3478-3456.

Blue Note Tokyo—The Blue Note Tokyo is the hot spot for world-class jazz acts the likes of Courtney Pine and George Benson. Music 7-9:30 pm, but the club is open 5:30 pm-1 am. Closed Sunday. Cover ¥10,000, but can vary with performer. 6-3-16 Minami-Aoyama (Minato-ku, near Omote-sando station on the Hanzomon line). Phone 5485-0088.

El Patio—A magnet for lovers of tango, samba and bossa nova, with a little folk music thrown in. Closed Sunday. Cover ¥1,500-¥1,900. 7-1-8 Hinode Building, B1, Nishi Shinjuku (Shinjuku-ku). Phone 3363-6931.

Oh-Garcon—This is a club with an all-male "girlie" revue. Role changes are a traditional part of Japanese theater. (The womens parts in Noh and Kabuki are performed by men, and the mens parts in the Takarazuka revue are performed by women.) It might throw you at first, but its great fun when you get into the swing of things. Closed Sunday. Reservations required. Cover ¥5,000. Sumitomo Building, 49th Floor, 2-6 Nishishinjuku (Shinjuku-ku, near Shinjuku station on the JR Yamanote loop). Phone 3344-6591.

Piga-Piga—African music is played by African musicians. African menu, wine and beer. Monday-Thursday until 1 am, Friday and Saturday until 3 am. Cover ¥1,500. STM Yebisu Building, B2, 1-8-1 Yebisu Minami (Shibuya-ku). Phone 3715-3431.