Best Things To Do In Tokyo At Night

By Blanka Kobayashi, who has been living in Japan for almost 20 years and loves to bar hop around Tokyo’s quirky bars and local restaurants.
Edited by Elodi Troskie


About 18 years ago I came to Tokyo to visit a friend. Long story short, I ended up getting married here and even after moving back to Europe, I realized Japan is the place I really want to be! If I had to describe Tokyo in one sentence, it would be as a city that never sleeps, never stops moving and never ceases to amaze you. The nightlife in Tokyo in incredible. You’ll always find something to do no matter the time of day or night. So if you’re looking for a party scene, you’ll have a ball in Tokyo. Here are my recommendations for the best things to do in Tokyo at night!

 

Dine at a local restaurant


Tokyo’s food really is the best in the world. I love trying local Japanese dishes and exploring the new restaurants that constantly pop up all over the city. There are so many places to eat in Tokyo that it’s impossible to pick a favourite! A few of my recommendations for good Japanese food are Sushi Zanmai and Ippudu. These are chain restaurants so their prices are generally lower than upscale restaurants like Peter at the Peninsula, which I’d highly recommend if you’re willing to spend a little more on a night out. Komahina Burgers has some of the best Western-style fast food in Tokyo, and if you’re looking for vegan or vegetarian options, I’d suggest The Farmer. There are two or three branches in different locations in Tokyo, serving great food using fresh produce only.

Explore the street food scene


Street food is one of my favourite things about Asian food culture and Japan is no exception! Street food is not only the most affordable way of eating in Tokyo, but it’s also a great way to experience local culture. My top recommendations for must try foods in Tokyo are sushi, ramen, soba noodles with tempura, shabu-shabu and yakitori. And sake, of course! Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, setting it apart from the regular udon noodles made of thick white wheat. I like to order it on the side of tempura. Shabu-shabu is a traditional Japanese hotpot dish consisting of thinly sliced meat served with vegetables. Yakitori is a very common Japanese street food dish where chicken, seafood or vegetables are served grilled on a skewer. Yanaka Ginza, Togoshi Ginza and Ueno Park are really good areas to go for street food in Tokyo.

Let loose at a karaoke bar


Karaoke is an integral part of Japan’s nightlife – definitely a top pick if you’re looking for fun things to do in Tokyo at night! My husband and I love going to karaoke bars when we have a night out in Tokyo. One of our favourite places is Golden Ball Cafe in Roppongi, who also has a karaoke room. Karaoke Kan is a very popular bar in the Shibuya district, made famous by the movie Lost in Translation. Big Echo Karaoke is another popular on in the Ginza district, known for their Hello Kitty-themed rooms and all-you-can-drink specials. Most karaoke bars work on the principle of paying for 30-minute blocks, for which prices range from as little as ¥100 and going up to ¥400 during peak hours over weekends. There is also the option of paying for free time, which means that there is no limit to the time you can spend in your karaoke room. Prices for free time usually start around ¥1000.

Connect with locals


The best way to immerse in the culture of a foreign city is to hang out with locals – the most enriching experience you can have! Besides, locals will be able to tell you much more about their home city than any travel guide. Locals’ favourite hangout spots are usually hidden away from locations already ‘found’ by tourists. When you walk down the street in Tokyo, watch out for small restaurants and bars that don’t necessarily look like anything special: minimal décor, no signage and little to no street side marketing to invite you inside. These places are Tokyo’s real hidden gems! You’ll find great food and drinks and even better local company. My suggestion would be to hang out with locals in this way at least one night out of your time in Tokyo, which will leave you with plenty of time to explore the destinations more popular among tourists.

Splurge at the Peninsula Hotel


If you want to spend a little more on a night out in Tokyo, head to the Peninsula Hotel. Peter at the Peninsula is an upscale bar and restaurant where you’ll pay for the experience and view just as much as the food. Located on the 54th floor of the building, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Imperial Palace, especially at night. The restaurant offers a fine dining experience like no other and the bar has some of the best cocktails in all of Tokyo. Even if you don’t stay for dinner, I definitely recommend spoiling yourself with a cocktail or two while enjoying the incredible view of the sun setting over Tokyo’s skyscrapers.

Roppongi area


Tokyo’s Roppongi district is probably my favourite area of the city. People are often overwhelmed by its chaos but that’s nothing to be scared of! It may be a little crazy but I always have a lot of fun in Roppongi. The bars and restaurants in Roppongi cater for both the younger and more mature crowd, so you’re guaranteed to find something to your liking. One of my favourite places in this area is Golden Ball Cafe, which I mentioned earlier as well. This is ideal for a casual night out in Tokyo – you can play darts or pool, have a few drinks, order some bar food and do karaoke. Another great place in Roppongi is TK Lounge, perfect for late night drinks and some more karaoke.

Ginza area


Ginza is the most stylish area in Tokyo. Shops and restaurants are somewhat on the higher end which means that this district generally appeals to the more mature crowd. I like going to Ginza when I’m feeling fancy and want to treat myself to a few classy cocktails! I’d recommend going to the New York Grill in Park Hyatt for their live music nights on Fridays. A more budget-friendly recommendation is Golden Bow Cafe, which is a really laid-back bar with amazing cocktails and relatively cheap drinks. You can also order bar food to snack on and play bar games like darts or pool. It’s quite a big place so it can fit a lot of people – great for socializing and meeting new people. You can have a good time without breaking the bank!

Omotesando area


Omotesando is a shopping street located in the Shibuya area, often referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. Like Ginza, Omotesando is a generally a bit more expensive. A great bar in Omotosando is Two Rooms Bar & Grill. They serve really good cocktails and the view from the outside seating area on the terrace is beautiful! Another place to visit is Omotesando Hills, a massive shopping building that also has a lot of really good cafes and restaurants. This is the number one luxury shopping location in Tokyo featuring international brands like Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent.

 

 

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