While watering holes, nightclubs, and some x-rated establishments can be found across the city, there a number of districts that are known for their offerings including Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku’s notorious “Kabukicho” area, and the famed nightlife of Roppongi. While imbibing in Tokyo does come at a high price (many bars offer beer for between 800 and 1,000 yen (US$8.00 ~ US$10.00) a pint/glass, the large variety of locations does provide for some cost-competition, and many offer decent discount or happy-hour deals.
The following suggestions are just a selection of favorites among the expat community.
A971 (9-7-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku; http://www.a971.com) on the ground floor of Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown complex is a favorite with many singles and couples in the expat community and has been known to run out of glasses on particularly busy evenings. With some outside seating, this bar offers reasonably priced drinks on the edge of Roppongi’s main drag.
Agave (7-15-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku; http://www.agave.jp) is best known for offering several hundred kinds of tequila for shooting or sipping. A variety of mixed tequila drinks are also available with a small but decent selection of nibbles. While many bars and pubs allow cigar smoking, Agave welcomes it and has a number of choice stogies to choose from.
Footnik (Asahi Bldg 1F, 1-11-2 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku; http://www.footnik.net/english/) serves up fresh football (soccer) games at their main location in Ebisu and their other location in Osaki, multiple times per day. With healthy servings of ale and British favorites such as Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash, this is a location worthy of any football fan.
Hub (http://www.pub-hub.com) is a chain of English pubs offer a great selection of snacks and meals with a moderate selection of beers including being one of the few places in the city where a “yard” of beer can be acquired. Some will be turned off by the relative lack of waitstaff (food and drink orders must be made and collected at the bar), but this helps keep their costs down, and yours.
Hobgoblin (http://www.hobgoblin.jp) is another chain of English pubs that has a regular following. Enjoy British and other European brews and plenty of British fare while watching live games from around the world on one of the many televisions.
Legends (Aoba Roppongi Bldg 1F, 3-16-23 Roppongi, Minato-ku; http://www.legendsports.jp/) is the self-described best sports bar in Tokyo. Legends offers food and drink with live and recorded sporting events of all kinds, from F1 racing to American collegiate and professional football, Major League Baseball, and football (soccer).
Oak Door (Grand Hyatt, 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku; http://www.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com) is a major favorite with bankers and others working in the Roppongi Mori Tower. Serving up rich drinks with quality food and a swank bar – not to mention copious outdoor seating – the Oak Door is not to be missed.
Propaganda (Yua Roppongi Building 2F 3-14-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku; http://www.worldsbestbars.com/public/venue_listing.jsp?categoryId=47¤tVenueId=581) is one of Tokyo’s worst kept secrets. Propaganda sports over a decade of history in Japan with some of Roppongi’s best bartenders stirring up well-appreciated cocktails and beers. Drop by for your birthday for a very over-sized martini glass filled with your favorite drink.
Womb (2-6 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku; http://www.womb.co.jp) is one of the most popular nightclubs in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. While the typical customer base is Japanese in their early-20’s, Womb is well known within the expat community as well and is a great venue for some top notch DJ’d hip-hop and house spinning.
Other venues and special events can be identified in Metropolis Magazine (http://www.metropolis.co.jp) or through “Tokyo meet-ups” discussed on Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com/cities/jp/tokyo/), but new residents to Japan would do well to go out and explore a bit on their own. With countless bars located on just one street in Roppongi (not to mention the many other districts in Tokyo), there are plenty of hidden gems to satisfy just about every need. But with this in mind, and despite Tokyo being a very safe city, it’s always important to stay on your toes.