Tokyo After Dark Exploring The Cities Best Nightlife Areas

Tokyo is one of the most exciting places in the world to explore at night with many bars, clubs, and sights to visit.

If you are soon heading to Tokyo then the chances are that you have already sorted your itinerary for the day and packed it full of exciting things to see and do.

However, you should make sure that you save some of your energy for the nighttime as this is when Tokyo really comes to life.

Shinjuku s Kabuki-cho district nightlife district is known as Sleepless Town

No matter what your preference may be, cheap drinks, exclusive restaurants, or the nightclub scene there is something for everyone. Tokyo’s nightlife is also spread throughout the city so there is no need to head to one specific area of the city many areas have everything that there is to explore and experience.

Here we’ll run through a list of some of the best spots to explore in the city after dark.

Shinjuku (Kabukicho)

Shinjuku is a very popular spot in the city during the day as it is home to the busiest train station in the world, meaning that there is an abundance of shops, restaurants, and parks nearby for people to enjoy during the day. However, the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku does not stop when the sun sets.

Shinjuku-Kabukicho Location Via Google Maps

The specific area of Kabukicho in Shinjuku is where to head for the nightlife. Known as Tokyo’s red-light district, Kabukicho also has more tame offerings.

The sheer number of shops, cafes, and restaurants in this area have given the area the name “the sleepless town”.

Fantastic show at the robot restaurant in Tokyo

If you are looking for a popular, tourists spot then you can head to the famous Gozilla statue or the robot restaurant.

Despite its past associations with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia), the area is relatively safe even at night. The area is almost always busy and there are many hosts out on the streets to try and convince you to eat in their establishment.

Even if you don’t feel like sitting down to eat, just walking around the streets taking in bright lights is a great way to spend an evening.

Night street view of Kabukicho district in Tokyo A giant Godzilla head can be seen peering over the buildings

Shinjuku (Golden Gai)

This area of Shinjuku is home to many narrow streets that are lined with bright, neon restaurants and bars (approximately 200).

The history behind this area was a postwar section of the city that became known as seedy due to its links to prostitution and the black market. 

Shinjuku Golden Gai Location Via Google Maps

Shinjuku Golden Gai, There are over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs, and eateries

This area is now home to multiple bars and eating establishments, breaking its old connections to the underside of Tokyo. However, the narrow streets and bright lights make it quite a sight to behold and a great place to wander down, especially if you are any good with nighttime photography.

Ginza

If you desire a more refined and classy nighttime experience in Tokyo then consider heading to Ginza where you can find fancy and expensive restaurants as well as upscale bars.

This particular area of the city gradually turns from a busy and popular shopping destination in the daytime to a popular club and bar destination at night.

Ginza Location Location Via Google Maps

If you are in search of Tokyo’s bright neon signs then Ginza is one of the best places in the city to head. As the clubs begin to open their doors to customers, the sea of neon lights up.

Even if you are prepared to pay the high prices that establishments charge in Ginza, if you do not speak Japanese then you may struggle as many of the smaller restaurants and bars here do not cater to foreign clientele.

If you have any friends or family that speak Japanese then it is best to convince them to go with you.

aerial night view of Ginza zebra crosswalk 

Roppongi

Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s most famous nightlife areas and it has a mix of everything, so if you are not sure what kind of activity you want to partake in then this is the best area to head for.

sunset from the observation deck at Tokyo City View on top of the Roppongi Hills Skyscraper complex

Roppongi Location Via Google Maps

There are upscale restaurants, inexpensive bars, and even Western-style establishments that cater to foreigners. So, if you are unable to speak Japanese then Roppongi is a safe bet.

The area was originally a hangout destination for the US military after the war and nowadays it attracts many ex-pats. Although the area is mostly safe it quickly becomes very busy so it is best to keep your wits about you when out and about, although rare pickpockets will specifically target tourists.

Shimokitazawa

This area is also commonly referred to as Shimokita and is very popular as a hipster and alternative hangout spot.

The location boasts many alternative bars and restaurants, meaning that it is much less popular with tourists and travelers than other spots such as Shinjuku. 

Local Japanese walking in the narrow alley of Shimokitazawa neighborhood

Shimokitazawa Location Via Google Maps

In addition to food and drink, there are also many unusual shops and entertainment options on offer. In order to truly find everything that Shimokita has to offer you will need to wander down small side streets and in every nook and cranny as there are treasures to be found throughout.

Most of the izakaya, restaurants, and shops here are reasonably priced and affordable so it is a great option for a night out in Tokyo. You will also encounter many younger and more local Japanese than most other areas in Tokyo.

 Shimokitazawa neighborhood, Tokyo

Final Thoughts On Exploring Tokyos Nightlife

Although many people only think of the attractions and places to see during the day in Tokyo, the city is equally as interesting at night. Just because the sun goes down does not mean that the city sleeps.

Bar overlooking Tokyo Skyline

In fact, Tokyo is one of the most interesting cities during the night as many bars, restaurants, and clubs come to life, lighting up the streets with their brightly-colored neon signs.

The area that is best for you to visit will depend on exactly what kind of experience you want to have. If you are looking for an upscale restaurant and you speak some Japanese then Ginza is a good location.

However, if you want to see a more quirky side of the city and mix with a younger crowd then head to Shimokita to explore the side streets and alleyways.

Nightlife Attractions Throughout The City Via Tripadvisor

Tokyo a city that never sleeps

A Virtual Walk-Thru Shinjuku’s Nightlife District

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.