5 of Tokyo’s Best Bars for Travelers

Looking for a drink in Tokyo? Nomad Isabella has put in the hard yards and found the top 5 bars for backpackers unlike nightlife anywhere else.

Golden Gai Photo © Isabella Cornell

JBS

If you’re a vinyl-lover, this one’s for you! JBS (Jazz Blues Soul) is tucked into Shibuya’s backstreets, on the second floor of a non-descript building and behind a heavy wooden door.

Run by Tokyo’s Jazz-club veteran, Kobayashi-san, the charm of JBS comes from his wall-to-wall, 11,000-strong Vinyl collection on display. Kobayashi-san is an expert at reading his customers and the mood, and selects the music accordingly. Sometimes it’s Nina Simone, sometimes it’s NWA, but always a great vibe and atmosphere here.

Daikanyama T-site

This concept-driven building complex – part of Japan’s giant book, film and music chain Tsutaya – is one stop before Shibuya, in the quiet streets of Daikanyama.

Perfect for a late-night drink, the complex has an elegant bar, coffee shop and café. Pull up a chair in the salon, sip on a Japanese whiskey, and browse through the rare book collection from around the world in this must-visit bar for any book lover.

Womb

If you’re feeling like something a little less low-key, Shibuya’s Womb won’t disappoint. With some of the world’s best DJ’s regularly playing at this large, warehouse-style venue, you know you’re in for a good night.

Because Japan’s trains stop running around midnight and start up again around 5am, this is definitely a late-night party spot. Things won’t kick off until the last trains are running.

Shinjuku Ni-chome

Ni-chome is Tokyo’s gay bar district, sporting a collection of small bars and larger clubs around a few small streets behind Shinjuku’s bustling CBD. Whether you identify as LGBT+ or not, there is undeniably a good dance waiting for you here.

From Ni-chome’s legendary girls bar, aptly named Bar Gold Finger, to the well-established club, Dragon, this area has something for everyone, and some of the friendliest bartenders and patrons in all of Tokyo.

New York Bar

If you’re looking to splurge on your last night in Tokyo, this is the place. Famous for its starring role in Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation, for a cover charge of around USD$18, you too could listen to live lounge jazz overlooking the sprawling nightscape of Tokyo’s dense metropolis.

The impressive selection of cocktails are created by the highly skilled bartenders for a unique luxury experience. Go on, live a little!

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