Clubbing Overview

Update: March 16th, 2013

For this brief introduction to clubbing in Tokyo we consider two main


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Enjoy !

1 – Japanese-style clubs

In Japan, foreigners are mostly male, so it’s the male audience that makes the biggest difference. Therefore, by Japanese and foreigner, here we mean the guys.

Among the Japanese-style clubs we differentiate between three types:

1.1 – Japanese Disco

2007-10-27 11-41-01 - Halloween at alife - TCJapanese-disco clubs are those where the youngest and prettiest girls usually go. They don’t necessarily follow a specific looks but,
Himegyaru will certainly feel at ease here. Guys there are mostly Japanese and many will come in with their salaryman suits.

While females are more interested in studying English, those in the Japanese-disco clubs are probably straight off school and haven’t really had a chance to practice the language much, or may even not really want to learn (thought most people in Japan are obsessed with learning English !). Practically, in these clubs chances are that most girls aren’t expecting to be approached by a foreigner.

It’s not all lost however ! Because where the gaijin are scarce, girls that can speak some English (and had a few drinks) are likely to make an effort to be noticed. To most Japanese, foreigners are “cool” but it’s easier to be cool where not every other guy is a foreigner. Some Japanese guys may try to shake your hand, introduce you to their girlfriends or generally use you as a vehicle of coolness: “Look at me ! I’m friend’s with a foreigner !”.

Those are interesting experiences, but there is also a good chance that you’ll feel out of place. It’s really up to the individual. Most of us dig the Japanese-disco clubs, so, we can only suggest you to try them at least a couple of times. Try heading for ColoR in Roppongi and see what you make of it.

When you go there, remember to bring your ID (you always should !) and leave sandals and shorts at home, as there is a basic dress code to follow. And, while you are at it, try to put to use your more formal clothes.. many Japanese girls do like that.

1.2 – Japanese Themed Clubs

club atom 2003-02-01 3-03-58By themed we mostly mean Ganguro, Mamba, Yamamba or similar. If one of them is entering the club, chances are that the crowd inside is also following the same style.

It can be an interesting experience, but the cultural exchange is certainly going to be minimal. If you go with a group of friends you can have fun anyway. But, there is a good chance to end up feeling out of place.

The music is usually some Trance, though a very peculiar “candy Trance” that shares little or nothing with the Trance known in the rest of the World.

The currently most active club hosting these events is Atom in Shibuya.

1.3 – Japanese Standard Club

A standard club in Japan is a club with a tendency towards House or Techno music, and where there is basically no dress code. A casual place where the younger foreigners find themselves more at ease can be great fun !

The tendency is more towards enjoying good club music with a more casual crowd and less about picking up.
Also, with better music and more popular DJs, prices tend to go up, for men and women alike.

Our first suggestion would be Womb in Shibuya. The location is great, DJs are top notch and the sound system is the real deal.

The most impressive is ageHa where practically all major international Trance DJs spin. The place however is located pretty far away.. though a free bus service is usually available from and to Shibuya station all night long.

There are also a lot of smaller clubs that are less “commercial” so to speak. There, depending on the night and on the DJ, you may dance at the rhythm of reggae, techno, psy-trance.
The smaller clubs is often where groups of friends gather to support a certain minor DJ and turn the night into some sort of home party away from home (Tokyo apartments are too small to held decent parties !).
While those aren’t quite private parties, chances are that most of the people present already know each other. May you stumble upon one of those clubs, don’t be afraid to stick around.
Most Japanese are only happy to have a cool gaijin around. This can be a good way to make new local friends !

2 – Gaijin-style clubs

These are those clubs that are mostly populated by gaijin men and Japanese women.
Like for the Japanese-style clubs, we also subdivide into three sub-categories:

2.1 – Gaijin Roppongi Clubs

DSC00341Roppongi clubs are famous for being rather decadent, filled with the less experienced foreigners looking for the simple translation of foreign (read: American) bar and clubs.

To get into those places, which are mostly located on Roppongi st., there is usually no cover charge. Drinks are not cheap but they are made for the stronger western drinkers. The level of decadence really depends on the place. We suggest trying a few places, give them more than once chance, you never know what can come out of it. Non-Japanese girls will feel more at ease, but forget the kawaii Japanese girls of alife.
Also watch out for prostitutes and transvestites… unless that’s your thing !

The nice thing about these clubs is that there is usually no cover charge, so you can get in, have a drink and get out. Some clubs may sort of suggest you into buying at least one drink. But in most cases you can probably just say “no”.

Wallstreet, Gas Panic, 911 Black, Motown are among the most famous, but there is really a lot more.

2.2 – Gaijin Mature Hangouts

By “mature” we mean those places where there at least some dress code (usually no shorts, no sandals). Where the girls pay less or nothing to get in and where the average age is higer, especially for the men.

The typical “mature” route in Roppongi, starts in Roppongi Hills, at Heartland, and more more recently also at Rigoletto and follows in a club such as Feria or Vanity.

Notice how Muse used to be the major gaijin hangout, but it has changed in the recent years, and now it’s mostly a Japanese club, packed with salarymen not wearing a tie. Alternatively starting in a bar in  Tokyo Midtown, such as A971, which seem to draw an even more mature crowd than Heartland itself.

Other possible destinations are, again 911 Black (which is also somewhat of a “Roppongi Club”) or even Lexington Queen, Midas, or the loungish Velours if you are in Aoyama (Velours is quite hidden and it’s an hit-and-miss kind of place).

2.3 – Gaijin Miscellaneous Clubs

Our experience lacks here. We only tried a couple of Salsa clubs and they are so different from the rest that they need a separate section, so we put them here in the “miscellaneous”.

Salsa is great fun ! It takes two to dance salsa and it’s really OK to ask any lady in the room.. no fears, no uptightness ..Great ! Our experience is limited to Salsa Sudada (closed) and El Cafe’ Latino, the first being more cozy and the second more spacious.

If you would like to know more about Salsa in Tokyo, try

  1. dominik
    September 17th, 2012 at 05:35
    Reply | Quote | #1

    forgot: any experience with cube 326? not sure if its a club. it seems the have goa/psytrance parties there tho, if you check youtube.

  2. Law
    October 8th, 2012 at 11:49
    Reply | Quote | #2

    I have a pretty good experience of clubbing in Tokyo, I just would like to add that some clubs like Alife, and especially the Alife, are definitely not very gaijin friendly. I remember once while approaching a girl she move quickly and gave me an elbow hit, I’m pretty mannered and good looking so it pissed me off. Worst is she wasn’t pretty, I just wanted to speak cause I was alone. If we wasn’t in Japan I would have slap that bitch. Some similar experiences of very cold shower happened mostly in Alife and Edo Club. Club Edo is full of little teenagers, with some really brainless and arrogant, I would not recommand that one too. The best club in Roppongi is definitely the Feria IME. I really enjoyed each of my night there ! I enjoyed some nights in Black 911 too but it seems the place changed a bit since it become the Black Horse, last time I went there I’ve met a lot of trash especially after 3pm. Cheers.

  3. bob
    October 30th, 2012 at 00:06
    Reply | Quote | #3

    hi davide, are Japanese girls into Asian guy as well? I am an ssian guy visiting Tokyo and want to meet girls. any recommended clubs to go for single guy with no Japanese knowledge? thank you

  4. Artem
    November 3rd, 2012 at 22:51
    Reply | Quote | #4

    Hi there:)

    I just wanna ask:) Is there any non-smoking disco in Tokyo?


  5. Daphne
    November 18th, 2012 at 08:39
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Just felt on this site accidentaly, while looking for a club to dance the salsa on the 24-25th Nov. Any hints will be appreciated.

  6. Kazaar
    November 29th, 2012 at 11:42
    Reply | Quote | #6

    Hey Davide.

    I just want to thank you a bunch for this guide. Going to live in Japan for a year and it’s been difficult to find a proper guide, but you seem experienced and trustworthy regarding clubbing in Japan.

    Cheers mate!

  7. February 18th, 2013 at 14:01
    Reply | Quote | #7

    need jobe in your club speak english chinese indian pakistan iran afghanistan language 24 years old

  8. February 18th, 2013 at 14:02
    Reply | Quote | #8

    email master_mobail@ya….com

  9. KayBee
    February 18th, 2013 at 23:24
    Reply | Quote | #9

    Hi Davide,
    Sounds like Alife was the place! What’s replaced it, in terms of catering to the Japanese disco working professional crowd?

  10. KayBee
    February 18th, 2013 at 23:25

    Hi Davide,
    Sounds like Alife was the place! What’s replaced it, in terms of catering to the Japanese disco working professional crowd?


  11. Davide
    March 11th, 2013 at 19:12

    wow.. sorry I haven’t been checking for comments in a while and many of them were being kept under moderation automatically.
    Here are some answers:

    Haven tried Cube 326, but it seems interesting 8)

    yeah, most girls that go to clubs like Alife aren’t necessarily looking for foreigners. Also the whole environment changes… it’s not like other clubs where the more traditional western approach works 8)

    I’m sure that Asian guys are appreciated in Japan. Japanese are Asian too, after all 8)
    I can’t think of a specific place for a single guy. Luckily in Japan there isn’t this thing about dancing in couples (like in USA for example), so it’s not so bad to go solo, though it’s not as fun of course.

  12. Davide
    March 11th, 2013 at 19:17

    The only non-smoking that I know are Ageha and Mado Lounge. Which actually have separate smoking areas).

    Sorry, too late to reply. I wouldn’t have know anyway. I haven’t been to salsa club in a few years now (^^;)

    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to update the site in a while, and I don’t hang out as much. But I’m trying, from time to time.

    I’m puzzled myself, what has replaced Alife ? There must be something out there.. or maybe it’s an ear that has gone.
    There are still clubs in Roppongi like Flower.. well that club has changed name after something bad has happened in it (^^;)

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