Most Unique Night Clubs In Japan
by Jordan Mounteer
photo by https://r.gnavi.co.jp/gcm1600/
Although Japan may appear very conservative and straightforward during the day, at night the cities light up and come alive with all manner of subcultures, and nowhere is this exemplified more than in the night life scene. From artistic and classy to downright lurid and bizarre, almost every experience can be catered to if you know where to look. We took a look at some of the more unique bars and night clubs that are bound to turn heads and enthrall.
Robot Restaurant – 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
This was one of the locations that Anthony Bourdain frequented during his early restaurateur years, and if you’re looking for an ample slice of culture shock this place delivers in spades. The hefty 6000 yen reservation is worth it though. In a flashy montage that is halfway between burlesque and technological expo women stroll down a central walkway in skimpy outfits and shadowed by gigantic tanks and blinking robots. The food itself isn’t anything to write home about, but this place is more about spectacle than anything else, and whether you’re laying back expensive and ridiculously named cocktails or joining the burlesque dancers in song it is, if anything else, memorable. Where else can you watch girls fight gigantic robots?
EspritTokyo – 2nd & 3rd Floor, Roppongi B&V Building, 5-1-6, Roppongi, Tokyo
If you’re interested in something a bit more mainstream (and less expensive), then EspritTokyo is a super popular club in the ever-popular Roppongi district of Tokyo, well known for its club scene. EspritTokyo features very art-noveau décor and a spacious dance floor. That’s right, moving to the beat is sort of the theme at this establishment, and on a Friday it fills up quick – no doubt due in part to the fact that they somehow manage to snag some of the best DJs on an almost daily basis, including locals and international talent. The sound system is one of the better setups in Tokyo, and really appeals to the rave crowd with its elegant LED light show. Don’t expect to see too many gaijin here, although if you are you’re bound to stand out (in a good way).
The Vibe Bar – 2−7− 4, Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo
Again, though Japan tends to be a bit proper, culturally speaking, that doesn’t mean sex isn’t a topic. The Vibe Bar is a frankly brilliant idea that offers a safe and accepting place for people to come and talk about sex. Located above an actual sex, this upstairs bar is framed by a genital-shaped doorway and is host to nearly 350 different domestic and international ‘sex toys’ which the employees are more than willing to introduce. Because of the nature of the bar, it’s understandably open only to women or couples (or, if you’re a single man, you have to be accompanied by a female friend). The risqué approach to having interesting and educational conversations about sex over a drink is something you could only find in Japan.
Zoetrope – 3rd floor, 7-10-14 Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
There’s a diverse array of different pubs and bars, and for the more artistically inclined Zoetrope offers a peaceful and relaxing alternative to some of the other high tempo locations. Set up more as a traditional izakaya, it has become famous not only in Tokyo but worldwide for its exquisite selection of different whiskeys. With nearly 300 to choose from, the bar masters are not only helpful in recommending varieties, but equally impressive simply in the grasp of their knowledge on the subject. You can find everything from common label brands to some of the most premium whiskey you’ll ever taste – with a single two-finger setting you back upwards of 19,000 yen (that’s almost $200 dollars). Most of them are pretty decently priced though, but what makes this a must-see is simply the chance to delve into whiskey culture and chat up the friendly staff. The owner, a man named Atsushi Horigami, is also a big film buff so don’t be surprised if you find a silent black and white classic playing in the background.
Ageha – 2-2-10 Shinkia, Koutou-ku, Tokyo
The single largest bar in Tokyo, bar none, this can be a great experience or a terrible one, and it’s usually one or the other. The huge open room can hold literally hundreds of people, so if you’re looking for a mosh pit and a powerful contact high, you won’t be disappointed. The music here ranges from classic trance to K-pop singles to mental anison (anime songs), and is a serious rave venue. Its sheer size also allows it to accommodate, in addition to the three dancefloors, a full sized swimming pool and a maze of quiet zones and attached bars. Ageha should also make your list of priorities, just so you can say you’ve been there. A huge bonus is that the club actually sponsors a free shuttle to and from Shibuya, so you don’t have to worry about missing that last train back to your hotel.