Tokyo Nightlife: The Best Spots After Dark

Whether you’re a foodie, karaoke star, drinking on the cheap or looking for some intellectual stimulation, Tokyo has something for you. Isabella shows us the best experiences.

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Izakaya Tokyo Photo © iStock/Liyao Xie

Here's how to experience Tokyo after the sun sets.

Izakayas

One of the most unique features of Japanese nightlife is the izakaya. Izakayas are small traditional bars, usually frequented by salary men after work, offering tapas-style menus of small dishes to accompany some serious boozing.

Found in every suburb, izakayas are one of the best ways to get an insight to the heart of local nightlife in Tokyo. They can be great venues to connect with locals, because after a few drinks the locals will want to practice their English with foreigners.

Try Zakoya in Shimokitazawa for a cozy, traditional interior, delicious food and great sake selection.

Late night cafes

In the grungy Tokyo suburb of Shimokitazawa, you’ll find a number of small bohemian bars, vintage shops, cafes and restaurants, open late along pedestrian-only streets.

Just a few blocks from the izakaya Zakoya, is Café Propaganda. Open until sunrise on weekends, this laid-back lounge offers large shisha pipes, giant antique couches, delicious food and unique cocktails at any hour of the day or night.

Yakitori and street food

One of Japan’s most deliciously famous street food is yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). A fantastic area to get a feel for this style of eating is Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho.

The narrow alleyways are lined with lanterns, bar stools and grills offering authentic local cuisine, and yakitori as the main event!

A couple of blocks away is the boozier version of Omoide Yokocho, in the famous Golden Gai. Golden Gai’s watering holes are found in small alleys, often only seating 8 or so people.

Nomihodais and Karaoke

One way to drink on the cheap in Tokyo is nomihodai the Japanese word for ‘all you can drink’. This Japanese phenomenon is quite baffling for foreigners, who are accustomed to spending USD$7 on a single beer.

Most late night karaoke venues offer nomihodai. For those who believe there is nothing better than the combination of unlimited alcohol, cheesy video clips and horrible singing – this place is for you.

If karaoke isn’t your thing, try Bar Mist in Roppongi, which features three hours of all-you-can-drink for only ¥1,000.

Pecha Kucha

Started in 2003 by the creative pair Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, Pecha Kucha events have since become a global phenomenon.

For those of you who don’t know, Pecha Kucha is a series of 20-slide image presentations, with each slide only appearing for 20 seconds at a time.

This monthly hub of creatives, designers, thinkers and basically anyone that has something to say, have become a must-see at Roppongi’s self-proclaimed gallery/lounge/bar/club/creative kitchen SuperDeluxe.

Bizarre themed restaurants and shows

Two must-visit entertainment restaurants for the ultimate bizarre Tokyo experience are Harajuku’s Kawaii Monster Café, and Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant. Both feature crazy entertainment, music, shows, food and drinks.

These themed restaurants and shows make for the perfect Tokyo Instagram, with bright neon lights, robots and Harajuku girls.

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