How to Properly Enjoy the Nightlife of Shinjuku and Shibuya, Tokyo’s Renowned Entertainment Districts
When travelling overseas, many people want to enjoy the local nightlife. If you’re in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, there are many establishments open from late at night until the early hours of the morning, where you can have a great time. This article will introduce a suggested tourist route of Tokyo’s two great entertainment districts, Shinjuku and Shibuya.
- 8:30 PM: First Stop, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck to See the Shinjuku Night Skyline (Approx. 30 Minutes)
- 9:20 PM: Head to Golden Gai via Kabuki-cho (Approx. 60 Minutes)
- 10:30 PM: Take a Breather at Hanazono Shrine, Illuminated by Hanging Lanterns (Approx. 15 Minutes)
- Travel▶Shinjuku-sanchome Station→Shibuya Station
- 11:00 PM: Move on to Shibuya! Have Another Round in Nonbei Yokocho (Approx. 60 Minutes)
- 12:30 AM: Dance the Night Away at the Nightclubs (Approx. 2.5 Hours)
- 3:00 AM: Sing Karaoke Until the First Train (Approx. 60 Minutes)
8:30 PM: First Stop, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck to See the Shinjuku Night Skyline (Approx. 30 Minutes)
The start of this recommended tourist route is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building ("Tocho" for short) that towers over the surrounding Shinjuku area. If you get off the Toei Oedo Line at Tochomae Station, it is directly linked to Tocho Main Building No. 1. From 202m above the ground, the observation deck has an unobstructed view of the Tokyo streets. It’s open until 11:00 pm (last entry at 10:30 pm), so you can take your time to enjoy the city’s skyline at night. You are guaranteed to be spellbound by the glistening skyline, with interweaving buildings that symbolize Tokyo, such as the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku Park Tower, and Tokyo Opera City. Even better, entry to the observation deck is free!
9:20 PM: Head to Golden Gai via Kabuki-cho (Approx. 60 Minutes)
Around an 11-minute walk to Kabukicho from Tochomae Station via the Toei Oedo Line.
The next destination, Kabuki-cho, is not only one of the largest entertainment districts in Asia, but has also been called “The Sleepless Town”. Neon signs glitter brightly whether it’s midnight or dawn, and crowds of people come and go. Feel the Tokyo street atmosphere as you walk through this lively area.
In a corner of Kabuki-cho (east side) is an area jostling with small bars, called “Golden Gai”. There is a good old-fashioned charm left by the strong atmosphere of the early 60s in this area, and about 200 restaurants all lined up in narrow rows. Many of them open around 9:00 pm, so it’s highly recommended to have some fun bar hopping here.
10:30 PM: Take a Breather at Hanazono Shrine, Illuminated by Hanging Lanterns (Approx. 15 Minutes)
A short walk from Golden Gai.
Directly beside Golden Gai, Hanazono Shrine enshrines Shinjuku’s local Shinto deity, who has watched over the development of the area since long ago. It is known for bringing about good luck, success in life, and wealth. At night, the grounds are full of atmosphere thanks to the lit hanging lanterns. The solemn atmosphere, separated from the bustle of the big city, is perfect for a moment’s rest after getting tipsy in Golden Gai. It is highly recommended to go see the sakura (cherry blossoms) at night within the grounds if you come during sakura viewing season (around early April).
Travel▶Shinjuku-sanchome Station→Shibuya Station
Around 5 minutes by train on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line from Shinjuku-sanchome Station. Get off at Shibuya Station.
11:00 PM: Move on to Shibuya! Have Another Round in Nonbei Yokocho (Approx. 60 Minutes)
Short walk from Shibuya Station via the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line.
Moving onto the Shibuya area, it’s time to drink some more! A recommended destination is Nonbei Yokocho. Just a short walk from Shibuya Station, a retro atmosphere hangs in the air of this area that is spread out along the Yamanote Line. It’s a small alley cut off from the hustle and bustle, lined with more than 30 restaurants. There are so many different kinds of restaurants here: izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) restaurants, modern bars and bistros dealing in Western wine and spirits, and so on. Rather than flashy neon lights, red paper lanterns suit this area. In an area with such spirit, you can enjoy the deepening night of Tokyo even more.
12:30 AM: Dance the Night Away at the Nightclubs (Approx. 2.5 Hours)
Excited yet? Head to the nightclubs! There are many places in Shibuya that are open until morning. This article will briefly introduce three that come highly recommended.
Opened in 2000, this is a nightclub which has been at the forefront in introducing electronic music culture to the music fans of Tokyo. The club boasts the biggest mirror ball in Asia and uses a top-of-the-line sound system. From top artists worldwide to fresh artists in Tokyo’s local scene, you can enjoy a huge variety of performances.
Example entry fee: 3,500 JPY per person *Varies depending on the event
Access: 10-minute walk from Shibuya Station's Hachiko Gate
SOUND MUSEUM VISION
This is a stylish nightclub possessing a state-of-the-art sound system. Spread out underground, the club is complete with four floors in a giant space that nears 1,000 sq.m. Events and live gigs are held here, spanning the limits of genres such as techno, house, and hip-hop. It’s a popular spot which continues to fascinate many audiences with energetic artists and DJs from inside and outside of Japan on its floors.
Example entry fee: 3,500 JPY, includes one drink *Varies depending on event
Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station's Hachiko Gate
With 1,000 patrons on weekends, often even exceeding 1,400, Club Camelot is a popular and prominent nightclub which prides itself in its ability to attract customers. With two floors, the main floor offers a festival main stage-style “all-mix” of EDM, while hip-hop and R&B events are held on the sub-floor. It also features gorgeous VIP seating and a lounge space where you can take a breather if you get tired.
Example entry fee: 2,500 JPY for men, includes one drink, 1,500 JPY for women, includes two drinks *Varies depending on event
Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station's Hachiko Gate
3:00 AM: Sing Karaoke Until the First Train (Approx. 60 Minutes)
After you're exhausted from dancing, you will probably realize that you still have about one to two hours until the first trains start running. The first train departures depend on the line and the day of the week, but for Shibuya Station, it’s roughly between 4:30 am and 5:15 am. There are many karaoke establishments in Shibuya that are open until 5:00 am, so spend your remaining time at one of them! There are various price options, but as a general rule, free time (where you pay a flat fee to stay at the establishment within set hours of the day) with one drink is around 2,000 JPY per person.
How Karaoke Works
First of all, go to the reception desk and tell them which type of machine you want, how long you would like, and your drink order, then the staff will show you to your room. From then on, you’re completely free to do as you like. You can dance, sing, and even enjoy some food and alcohol. Systems which use a touch panel in various languages to send your song selection to the machine are the most common. There are also many foreign language songs available, so even if you don't know Japanese, you can choose your favorite songs.
You’ve come all the way to Tokyo, so rather than head back to the hotel early because you’re worried about missing the last train and don’t want to pay the high taxi fare, why not stay out until morning and enjoy more of what Tokyo has to offer?
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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