A music lover’s paradise. Whether you are into hip-hop, rock, jazz or electronica, you’ll find your club.
Known as a city that never sleeps, Tokyo fully embraces the moniker with a huge selection of brilliant nightclubs, some of which are open until 6am. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back spot to discover new music or somewhere to enjoy a big night out, Tokyo has it all.
Tokyo is Asia’s jazz capital, with great shows taking place daily in tiny bars and mega-club.
THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
WARP Shinjuku recently opened its doors in late 2018, but this nightclub has already completely shaken up the Tokyo nightlife scene. Shinjuku’s complete lack of any real nightclub has allowed WARP to completely dominate.
Club Camelot continues to be Shibuya’s most popular and foreign friendly nightclub. This night club recently opened an entirely new floor effectively making it a 4 story nightclub. Now there are two main floors, two lounge floors, five different bars and literally dozens of VIP seating options.
Club Camelot excels at providing several different kinds of parties every night of the week. It never feels too crowded, the staff are friendly and the lines at the bar are always short. We believe Camelot provides the most foreign-friendly nightclub in Shibuya especially on the B2 floor.
ageHa is a must-see for anyone looking to have a memorable nightclub experience. The nightclub only has a few events a month, but when there is a big artist playing at ageHa, it is without a doubt the nightclub to visit.
ageHa club boasts four different dance floors, three VIP sections, three large bars, an outdoor pool, a garden area, and a food court. The main floor is a large arena encircled by octagon shaped speakers that pump out an enormous amount of sound.
Without a doubt, 1 Oak Tokyo is the most hype nightclub in Tokyo right now. On an almost weekly basis, 1 Oak Tokyo books popular hip-hop artists to perform or DJ live. The women are beautiful, the men dress up, and international celebrities often appear in the VIP. The entire experience feels like a New York nightclub. And for that reason, 1 Oak may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a top class international night clubbing experience… this is the place to be.
WOMB continues to be the go-to nightclub for house, techno, and bass music parties. It was ranked #47 in the DJ MAG Top 100 nightclubs prestigious list which makes WOMB the must-see Shibuya nightclub for most Tokyo travelers. The club’s interior recently received a makeover, including new lighting, an upgraded lounge floor and an entirely new VIP balcony that overlooks the main floor. Saturday nights at WOMB can provide some of the purest nightclub experiences available in Tokyo.
Roppongi is well known as Tokyo’s ultimate clubbing suburb, and one of the area’s most popular nightspots is A-Life. It’s spread over three floors, and the music here is all about unpretentious, good old-fashioned fun – think cheesy bangers and top-40 hits. The venue also offers great value for money, with three drinks for ¥1,000 (£7) before 11pm.
Want an alternative to the commercial music played at many Tokyo bars? Located underneath the hustle and bustle of Shibuya is The Room, a small basement where you can listen to jazz, soul and R&B tunes. Although it’s small in size compared to your average Tokyo nightclub, The Room’s great selection of music and relaxed atmosphere make up for it. This is the spot to be if you’re looking for a low-key evening spent sipping on whiskey with good company.
Originally located along a hidden pathway, Oath moved its location to Shibuya’s Trump Room in 2018, an underground club that has long been popular among trendy young Tokyo fashionistas. A tiny black door leads you into a room decked with chandeliers, lamps, mirrors and even a stuffed deer, creating an elegant and opulent interior. Oath hosts some of the world’s best underground DJs and serves high-quality drinks; the doors stay open until 8am on Saturdays and Sundays, meaning it’s the ideal place to go for a nijikai (after-party).
With multiple dance floors, a roster of the biggest names on the electronic music scene, waterfront views and even a pool on the balcony, AgeHa is the best place to go for a big night out in Tokyo. Because it’s so large, the club is actually located a little out of the city in Shin-Kiba, but there are free shuttle buses to and from Shibuya all night long. Once you get here, though, leaving will be the last thing on your mind.
Arty Farty is a great place to stumble into after a few boozy drinks in the Shinjuku Ni-chōme area, Tokyo’s LGBTQ hub. The popular dance club always has a fun and welcoming crowd, the menu is foreigner-friendly and the drinks are reasonably priced. A cover charge of ¥2,500 (£17) provides guests with one drink once inside and allows you to come and leave as you please, meaning you can hop back and forth to the club from nearby bars. The entrance fee also gives you access to their sister club, The Annex, which is located nearby.
Bar Bridge is like no other club in Tokyo, delivering a wide range of music from jazz and hip-hop to cheesy music from the 1980s, all pumped through their top-grade sound system. Located only a minute away from Shibuya station, the club has an impressive view of the famous Shibuya crossing and features a number of resident DJs who rotate throughout the week. Some of Tokyo’s top DJs play here from time to time, and the venue attracts a diverse crowd, from college graduates to businesspeople reliving their disco days.
This nightclub franchise, which originally opened its doors in Manchester, UK, has locations worldwide and has now opened an outpost in Tokyo. Occupying the top two floors of Q-Plaza, Sankeys Penthouse overlooks Harajuku’s colourful and busy streets. Grab a drink in the casual bar area and dance the night away on the 10th floor, or go upstairs and sit on an almost-too-comfortable couch to chat with friends. With tall ceilings and a terrace, the top floor replicates a fancy hotel bar, making it the perfect place for a sophisticated night on the town.
Having opened its doors in 1997, this Shibuya institution still has a reputation for being the best hip-hop club, not only in Tokyo, but in the whole of Japan. Booking both local and international DJs and performers, the venue is as diverse as the music is loud – and it’s really loud. Harlem is also a great place in Tokyo for witnessing up-and-coming Japanese hip-hop stars cut their teeth and learn the tricks of the trade before taking over the Japanese hip-hop charts.
Ginza is Tokyo’s most popular shopping district, featuring high-end brands and numerous department stores. But among all the glitz and glamour is one of the city’s hottest nightclubs, PLUSTOKYO, which opened its doors in November 2018. Each room has a different theme – step inside to be greeted by an enormous painting of Mount Fuji that resembles murals in Japanese public baths. Continue into several rooms and hallways decorated with modern art pieces and neon signs, a punk-themed VIP room and another room illuminated with pink-hued lighting, all of which combine to make PlusTokyo the perfect playground for art aficionados. This venue has hosted several popular DJs already, including Steve Aoki and Alice Wonderland.
A popular spot for all-night gigs, Shibuya’s premier club and event space WWW rebranded its basement lounge last year, christening it WWW B and installing a new Funktion One sound system to attract quality-conscious seasoned clubbers. The programming here leans towards techno and the alternative/experimental side of the electronic music spectrum. Gig venue WWW hit on a winning formula when it added some Funktion One speakers to its subterranean lounge and started hosting club nights. It’s the place to get sweaty to the weirdest new dancefloor mutations – producers such as Klein, DJ Nigga Fox and M.E.S.H. have all played there recently, while Japanese DJ extraordinaire Yousuke Yukimatsu is a regular. James Hadfield, music writer
There aren’t many compelling reasons to go to Hatagaya, a nondescript neighbourhood within the Shibuya ward, but Forestlimit is one of them. The café and music studio has been keeping things defiantly unpredictable since it opened eight years ago, with a diet of art shows, dance parties and left-of-centre music gigs. Blame the dance police for the fact that Forestlimit is no longer able to hold all-nighters, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a magnet for Tokyo’s most adventurous DJs and musicians, serving up everything from noise to ambient, underground techno to footwork. Keep an eye out for ace resident DJ Akiram En and the weeknight K/A/T/O Massacre parties. James Hadfield, music writer
From first-timers to big names, Three is a great spot for exploring the depths of Tokyo’s indie scene. Cover charges are low, and the place occasionally turns into a club on weekends. In addition to being a great gig spot with excellent acoustics, Three is a playground for anyone looking to experience Tokyo’s contemporary culture. Its style, booking policy and attitude toward customers is unlike any of its competitors. Entrance is free on most Friday nights, and you’ll find everything from rock and hardcore to hip hop, Latin and techno. The staff are super-friendly, and it’s just a really open and welcoming space.
Located in a basement at the Omotesando intersection, Vent highlights both leading European DJs and Japanese stars. The venue’s sound system is one of the best in the capital.
Summer in Japan is fantastic! Sure, the weather’s hot, but the scenery’s beautiful, and there are more local festivals and reasons to travel than you can shake a stick at. But no summer is complete without getting your groove on at one of Japan’s major music festivals. With plenty to choose from, we’re here to help you find the perfect one—or ones!
Greenroom Festival greenroom.jp
The Greenroom Festival is an annual festival held in Yokohama, near the harbor in the city’s Minatomirai area. The festival, started in 2005, is dedicated to beach and surfer culture, with an emphasis on protecting the ocean for future generations. Greenroom’s focus isn’t only on music, of which there is plenty, but also on film and art of all kinds. There’s also an open-air market. It takes place a bit earlier than other events on the list, usually a weekend in mid-to-late May, over the course of two days.
Miyako Island Rock Festival www.mirf.jp
Perhaps the festival most off the beaten path, the Miyako Island Rock Festival takes place on Miyako Island, the fourth largest island in Okinawa Prefecture. This is another festival dedicated to enjoying the gorgeous ocean views and idyllic nature of the area, and offers a variety of waterside shopping opportunities to enjoy while killing time between the variety of Japanese artists in the lineup. The event takes place in mid-June, and is a great reason to visit an incredibly unique part of the country.
Fuji Rock fujirock-eng.com
Inspired by the world-famous Glastonbury Festival, and named after its inaugural show held at the base of Mount Fuji in 1997, Fuji Rock is THE summer music event in Japan. The first show was originally scheduled for two days, but the first day was washed out by a typhoon, leaving many festival-goers in need of medical attention. Subsequently, the second day cancelled, despite fair weather. The organizers of Fuji Rock, Smash Japan, learned their lesson and traded in the searing heat and temperamental weather of central Japan’s summer for the relative coolness of the mountains, and it now takes place at the Naeba Ski Resort in Nagano Prefecture, just a couple of hours outside Tokyo by bullet train. The three-day festival features some 200 bands of both international and Japanese acclaim, and recent shows have attracted over 100,000 attendees. For more information, including this year’s lineup, check out their website.
Oga Namahage Rock Festival www.onrf.jp
The Oga Namahage Rock Festival takes place in Oga City in Akita Prefecture, in northern Japan. The city of Oga is famous for its Namahage Festival, a New Year’s event in which men covered in straw, wearing masks dressed as Namahage ogres roam from house to house. It’s from this very tradition the music event derives its name. The event spans two days at the end of July and—despite having rock in the name—features a wide range of Japanese artists from various genres, as well as an awesome drum show from the Namahage Drum Association, and a freestyle motocross show—perfect for gearheads.
Rock in Japan Fes rijfes.jp
Held just north of Tokyo in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, Rock in Japan is one of the largest summer music festivals in the country. The event takes place over the course of two weekends in August, and features an incredibly large lineup of J-pop and J-rock groups, meaning that attendees will have plenty of tough decisions to make about which stage to visit, and when. Like other festivals, you’re welcome to camp in designated camping areas, and there are plenty of festival goods available for purchase. Just make sure to leave time to enjoy the seaside park in Hitachinaka.
Rising Sun Rock Festival rsr.wess.co.jp
A trip to Hokkaido is a great way to beat the summer heat. And with the Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo, there’s even more reason to head to Japan’s northernmost island. Held in the small town of Ishikari, Rising Sun has been going on since 1999 and exclusively features Japanese bands in their performance lineup. Taking place over the course of two days, usually early-to-mid August, this festival is a perfect blend for nature and music enthusiasts as most attendees forego staying at a hotel to enjoy a weekend camping.
Earth Celebration www.kodo.or.jp
The Earth Celebration is the brainchild of the Japanese Taiko drum group, Kodo, which has earned international acclaim since its founding in 1981. The group’s home base is Sado Island, in Niigata, which is also where it hosts its annual Earth Celebration event in late August. As the name would imply, the Earth Celebration is a gathering to celebrate world music from around the globe. Each year has a theme intended to explore the simple beauty of nature and music.
Summer Sonic www.summersonic.com
Another mainstay of the summer music scene in Japan, Summer Sonic is a two or three-day music event held in August that takes place simultaneously in Osaka (in Japan’s Kansai region) and Chiba, the prefecture just east of Tokyo. The lineup consists mainly of Japanese and international rock and indie music acts, who play at one venue the first day, and then move to the second venue the next. The show has been going strong since it was established in 2000, with international acts like Coldplay, At the Drive-In and Radiohead headlining alongside Japanese heavy-hitters like Sakanaction, Mr. Children and Babymetal. The success of Summer Sonic has allowed showrunners Live Nation Entertainment to produce an EDM-centric offshoot Sonicmania, which has been going on since 2014. For information on who is rocking at Summer Sonic this year, visit the website below.
Sukiyaki Meets the World sukiyakifes.jp
Perhaps the most awesomely named festival on the list, Sukiyaki Meets the World started in 1991, and takes place in Nanto, a small village in Toyama Prefecture. It takes place over the course of a weekend towards the end of August, and offers a wide variety of programs to enjoy. As its name would imply, there is plenty of world music to enjoy from countries all over the globe, as well as kid-friendly workshops to attend, and a parade featuring both performing artists and local volunteers and residents.
Ultra Japan ultrajapan.com
We’re heading back to Tokyo for the final entry on the list: an event known simply as Ultra Japan. Ultra Japan is a three-day EDM event that takes place in Odaiba, featuring industry heavy-hitters like deadmau5, Skrillex and Afrojack. As expected, the performances incorporate huge stages with elaborate pyrotechnics and light shows to accompany the pulse-pumping music. It’s worth noting that Ultra also hosts EDM events worldwide.
Itami GreenJam Hyogo
This creative enterprise has made it its mission since 2014 to provide a festival that equally values art, fashion, design, and music. Artsy folks are invited to design the official event supporter T-shirt (deadline June 3). In line with the festival’s creative and open ideas, the whole two-day event is free.
Iwamuro Rock Festival, Niigata
In an effort to revive the area, Iwamuro in Niigata decided to create its own rock festival, cleverly nicknamed Imwamurock. While relatively minor, the event hosts plenty of local talent and works hard to promote young and upcoming artists in particular. If indie music is your jam, then this music fes is a must.
When: Sept Where: Iwamuroya, Niigata
The Great Satsumanian Hestival, Kagoshima
Yes, that’s festival with an “h.” The “he” represents the word for volcanic ash in Kagoshima’s local dialect, which is fitting, since much of the city is covered in it thanks to the nearby Sakurajima. In fact, the fes will take place on the Sakurajima peninsula, at the foot of the active volcano.
When: Oct Where: Sakurajima Yokoyama-cho, Kagoshima
Asagiri Jam, Shizuoka
Fuji Rock Festival’s little sister is way more chill, tends to have better weather, and has a front-row view of the “right side” of the beautiful Mount Fuji. This year’s event details should be available in July.
When: Oct Where: Fujimi City, Shizuoka