Japan’s buzzy capital, Tokyo, is exciting at any time of the day, but this thriving metropolis comes alive after dark. Packed with history, culture, adventure, and entertainment, Tokyo’s nightlife is an intoxicating mix. The atmosphere sizzles and crackles with electricity. Tokyo is fast, furious and filled with the sheer energy of 13 million human beings living, breathing and thinking in 2187 square kilometres of space. It’s incredible to think that today’s restless metropolis began life as a humble fishing village called Edo (‘Mouth of the Estuary’) in 1457 when lord Ota Dokan built his castle on a bluff overlooking the river.
Tokyo’s nightlife and entertainment options run the full gamut, from grand Kabuki theatres to broom-cupboard bars and live music venues. Most of the action can be found around the city’s lively places such as Ginza, Shibuya or Shinjuku. On the cultural side, all of Japan’s major performing arts can be sampled in Tokyo, from stately No (the oldest in its theatrical repertoire) to Buto (the country’s unique contribution to contemporary dance). However, the one not to be missed is Kabuki with its larger-than-life heroes, flamboyant costumes and dramatic finales. If you’re wondering how to make the most of your time in the city after dark? Here are some exciting best things to do in Tokyo at night.
- Tokyo At Night
- 25 Things To Do In Tokyo At Night
- 1- Start Your Night at Tokyo Metropolitan Building Observatory
- 2- Walk Down Memory Lane
- 3- Dine In A Ninja Restaurant
- 4- Go Bar Hopping at Golden Gai
- 5- Sing All Night in Karaoke Bar
- 6- Go Shopping at Don Quijote
- 7- Go Shopping In Harajuku
- 8- See Neon Lights Around Shibuya
- 9- Try the All-You-Can-Drink Sake
- 10- Walk Over the Rainbow Bridge
- 11- Cruise Tokyo Bay on a Yakatabune Harumiya
- 12- Climb Tokyo Tower
- 13- Experience the Thrills of Tokyo Joypolis
- 14- Enjoy an Immersive Experience at TeamLab Borderless
- 15- Relax At Odeo-Onsen Monogatari
- 16- Drive Through Tokyo In A Street Go-Kart
- 17- Visit Senso-ji Temple
- 18- Enjoy a Nighttime Local Food Tour in Asakusa
- 19- Spend a night in the Capsule Hotel
- 20- Fly Over Tokyo in a Helicopter
- 21- Explore Pop Culture in Akihabara
- 22- Shop For Electronics In Akihabara
- 23- Explore the Happiest Place on Earth
- 24- Visit A Garden
- 25- Visit The Tokyo Railway Station
- 25 Things To Do In Tokyo At Night
Tokyo At Night
25 Things To Do In Tokyo At Night
1- Start Your Night at Tokyo Metropolitan Building Observatory
An impressive landmark in Shinjuku, Tokyo Metropolitan Building Observatory is a great place to start a night out in the city.
It is a 243 m-tall building with two towers, each having an observatory at the height of 202 m.
Though there are many observation platforms in Tokyo, this building offers breathtaking views of the city skyline for free.
One of the observation decks remains open till 11 pm, and you can see the skyscrapers and highways lit up at night.
It is an excellent spot to hang around in the darkness if you plan to visit other places in Shinjuku.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building is at 2-chōme-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo.
2- Walk Down Memory Lane
Head to the Memory Lane (Omoide Yokocho), or Piss Alley (Nonbei Yokocho), for a late-night drink or food and a warm reception.
Memory Lane is a narrow side street where you’ll feel like stepping back into the Showa period.
Piss Alley is on the western side of Shinjuku Station and is a vibrant hub after dark between 5 pm to midnight.
It has an assortment of tiny bars and eateries that serve yakitori, soba noodles, nikomi (a type of udon noodle) and other weird food like pig testicles, frog sashimi, and grilled salamander.
Moreover, Japanese beer, sake, and highballs are available at affordable rates.
With red lanterns lit everywhere and smoke coming from the grills, it is an atmospheric place to wander at night.
Omoide Yokocho is at 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City.
3- Dine In A Ninja Restaurant
One of the unique night experiences in Tokyo is dining in a Ninja-themed restaurant, Ninja Akasaka or Ninja Shinjuku.
Located a short distance from Asakusa Station, Ninja Akasaka replicates the ninja hideout offering artfully presented Japanese food, together with impressive magic tricks.
Here, a ninja waiter greets you at the entrance and escorts you to your seat.
While waiting for the food, the ninja waiters perform a range of impressive magic tricks to entertain the diners.
Ninja Shinjuku is at 160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−11−11, Kono Building. Ninja Akasaka is at 1F, 2-14-3 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, 100-0014.
4- Go Bar Hopping at Golden Gai
A trip to Tokyo is incomplete without experiencing a bar hop, Tokyo style.
Golden Gai, Shinjuku’s hole-in-the-wall, is the most famous nightlife spot in the city and a must-visit place on any visitor’s Tokyo bucket list.
Over 280 tiny bars are packed into the maze of narrow streets, making it an atmospheric place to spend the night barhopping.
Most of these bars are so tiny that they can only accommodate a handful of customers, which adds to the atmosphere, and narrow laneways connect the streets.
Some bars here only serve local customers, but many welcome foreign guests with signs and menus posted outside the bar in English.
These narrow alleys are hopping with activity after 9 pm and serve all kinds of drinks until the wee hours.
Golden Gai is at 1 Chome-1-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo.
5- Sing All Night in Karaoke Bar
Like all other Japanese cities, many of the karaoke bars in Tokyo are open 24 hours, so head to one and sing your heart out.
Karaoke is a favourite activity among many Japanese locals, some of who prefer singing karaoke with friends instead of partying all night at a club.
Karaoke booths equipped with a TV, speaker system, microphones, and a songbook, are rented by the hour.
Settle in for the evening and order food and drinks to make the experience even more enjoyable.
Some of the city’s best karaoke bars are in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Roppongi.
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6- Go Shopping at Don Quijote
If you’re having trouble choosing a souvenir for friends or family, pop into a Donki store, where there are a variety of items for sale.
Don Don Donki, or Don Quijote, is the biggest discount store in Japan, offering virtually everything anybody could ask for.
From Japanese sweets and snacks to gadgets, cosmetics, household goods, and traditional souvenirs, one can find everything cheaper than other stores.
Don Quijote stores are available in Tokyo at many locations, including Ginza, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Roppongi, and Shibuya.
Mega Donki is its bigger branches that are open round the clock and perfect for late-night shopping.
7- Go Shopping In Harajuku
Head to Harajuku’s boutiques and malls to shop for trendy fashion.
Takeshita Street is the place for teenage fashion, while Omotesando Meiji Streets are where you’ll find major shopping malls like PARCO and Tokyu Plaza.
It’s also worth taking a Harajuku pop and fashion culture tour to help you understand some of the weird sights.
PARCO is at 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya City.
8- See Neon Lights Around Shibuya
See all the flashy neon lights of one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, Shibuya Crossing. The crossing is the busiest in the world and is chaos when the lights turn green.
It’s a famous spot to see neon lights as it is known for its super-busy streets, catchy advertisements, classy boutiques, and teeming shopping malls.
While you can also visit this area during the day, the Shibuya crossing is the most dramatic at night when it’s neon-lit from the screens and billboards on the nearby buildings.
Take a selfie as you scramble across the Shibuya Crossing along with hundreds of thousands of people.
Halloween is a fun time to visit when thousands of people gather dressed in costumes.
Another reason to visit Shibuya is it’s both one of the trendy places to visit in Tokyo and home to contemporary culture in Japan.
Here, you can eat good food and relax with a drink while people-watching.
Shibuya Crossing is at Shibuya City, Tokyo.
9- Try the All-You-Can-Drink Sake
Sake connoisseurs will hit the jackpot at Kurand Sake Market, where a six-hour journey through the world of sake takes place every night.
This activity is highly popular with locals and a fun way for visitors to meet Tokyoites.
It’s an ideal spot for a relaxing night with over 100 kinds of sake to taste, but food isn’t included, so you might want to pack a snack.
Kurand Sake Market is open until 11 pm on weekdays at Matsumoto Bldg. 3F 2-9-20 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
10- Walk Over the Rainbow Bridge
Another exciting thing to do in Tokyo at night is to walk over the Rainbow Bridge as the night lights twinkle, turning the city into a fairyland.
The massive suspension bridge connects Tokyo to the artificial islet of Odaiba.
The panoramic views of the Odaiba waterfront and dazzling solar-powered illumination have made the Rainbow Bridge a significant tourist attraction in its right at night.
This double-decker bridge features an expressway and walkway run on one level where pedestrians can take a nice walk while witnessing the best views of Tokyo for free.
In summer, a flotilla of yakatabune (traditional Japanese houseboats with lanterns) floats on Tokyo Bay, adding a lovely seasonal backdrop to the night view.
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11- Cruise Tokyo Bay on a Yakatabune Harumiya
Take in the beautiful views of Tokyo from the water by booking a cruise on a yakatabune (barge).
Operating during the warm season, these cruising restaurants travel beneath the iconic Rainbow Bridge and up the Sumida River, all while the passengers feast on the kaiseki dinner, with beer and sake also included.
Some cruises also feature lion dancing or Edo-style performances and wonderful views of Tokyo’s skyline at night.
12- Climb Tokyo Tower
Tokyo is truly magical at night, and the best way to get a glimpse of this magic is to visit the Tokyo Tower at night.
From the 250-meter high vantage point at Tokyo Tower, the city sprawls endlessly in every direction spreading as far as the eye can see.
Distant skyscrapers lean into the sky and modern highways crisscross in a web of confusion.
The tower is Japan’s version of the Eiffel Tower and dominates the city skyline at 333m high, even taller than the latter.
Walking towards this structure is part of the attraction, to see the tower illuminated every night with designs that suit the season or special events.
More than three million people visit this iconic tower annually to gaze at the city from its observation decks, one at 150 m and the other at 250 m.
Whether you stare at it from a distance or admire the cityscape from its viewing platform, all experiences are equally enjoyable at night in Tokyo.
Tokyo Tower is at 4-chōme-2-8 Shibakōen, Minato City, Tokyo.
13- Experience the Thrills of Tokyo Joypolis
Anybody wanting to play games and have fun late at night should head to Tokyo Joypolis.
Located in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, it’s one of the country’s biggest indoor theme parks offering fun and entertainment day and night.
Tokyo Joypolis is a SEGA-themed amusement centre ideal for thrill-seekers and video game fanatics.
It has three floors of games, amusement rides, VR experiences, 4D movies, simulators, arcade games, race car driving, and roller coasters.
Drinks and food are also available for the visitors.
Tokyo Joypolis is at 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato City, Tokyo.
14- Enjoy an Immersive Experience at TeamLab Borderless
Visiting TeamLab Borderless is one of the unique things to do in Tokyo at night that doesn’t involve alcohol.
It’s a digital art museum that uses hundreds of computers and projectors to create otherworldly experiences using sounds, lights, and graphics.
The most popular installation here is the Crystal World – a room full of mirrors and vibrant LEDs.
The other popular space is the Forest of Resonating Lamps, where people can marvel at the lanterns that change colours.
The museum remains open till 9 pm on weekends and holidays and later during the busiest times of the year.
TeamLab Borderless is at Odaiba Palette Town 2F, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo.
15- Relax At Odeo-Onsen Monogatari
Located on Tokyo’s Odaiba island, Odeo-Onsen Monogatari is an Edo-themed hot-spring park offering a traditional-meets-modern Onsen experience.
It’s a relaxation oasis with an extensive selection of baths, entertainment, and dining options.
Not only can visitors take a Japanese bath, but they can also walk around the food court, enjoy spa treatments, and stay in the tatami rooms overnight.
The park remains open almost 24 hours a day, only closes between 9 am and 11 am for cleaning.
Odeo-Onsen Monogatari is at 2 Chome-6-3 Aomi, Koto City, Tokyo.
16- Drive Through Tokyo In A Street Go-Kart
Of all the ways to see the lights of Tokyo at night, the most exciting way is to tour in a Street Kart.
Unlike other cities where people can get rental bikes, Tokyo offers custom-built go-karts to drive around the city’s streets till 9 pm.
It’s a two-hour tour that involves driving through the popular areas of Shibuya, Harajuku, Roppongi, Akihabara, and around Tokyo Tower.
To add to the fun, rent a costume and dress up as your favourite superhero.
Street Kart is at 2 Chome-10 Shinkiba, Koto City.
17- Visit Senso-ji Temple
Senso-ji, or Asakusa Kannon Temple, is the most visited and oldest religious site in Tokyo that sees almost 30 million annual visitors.
Those who don’t like to share space with crowds of tourists should visit this site late at night.
After dark, it is an entirely different place where the walking experience is calm and meditative.
The grounds remain open throughout the night, and the structures look equally impressive, with the surrounding shrine’s pagoda lit up beautifully like a beacon.
It’s a popular place for photographers to go to capture night shots.
Senso-ji Temple is at 2-chōme-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo.
18- Enjoy a Nighttime Local Food Tour in Asakusa
During the day, Asakusa is a must-visit area in Tokyo but locals prefer to visit this place at night to eat their favourite food.
Join a walking tour of this traditional town to soak up the local atmosphere, taste different kinds of sake and experience the Izakayas to enjoy traditional Japanese food with the locals.
On a regular basis, a four- to five-hour food tour takes place here, which involves walking around this traditional town, tasting different kinds of sake and beer, and visiting the Izakayas to enjoy traditional Japanese food with the locals, which include sukiyaki, dojo, sushi, dango, nikuman, and monja yaki.
Look out for Japanese savoury pancakes (Okonomiyaki or Monja yaki), which are a hit with locals and visitors.
19- Spend a night in the Capsule Hotel
Among the many eccentric Japanese innovations, the capsule hotel is one of the best.
Capsule hotels in Tokyo provide private budget-friendly accommodation in pods stacked like in a spaceship.
The pod-like rooms are tiny, with only space to slide in horizontally and roll around. Some people describe the experience of being in a morgue.
Basic facilities on offer include a power outlet, light, AC and an alarm clock.
Check out the capsule hotels around Taito, Shibuya and Shinjuku.
20- Fly Over Tokyo in a Helicopter
Explore the beautiful city of Tokyo from a different perspective on a private helicopter tour.
It is a short ride that takes the passengers to the skies over the city and offers the breathtaking aerial view of Odaiba, the Rainbow Bridge, and many other iconic districts and landmarks at night.
Flying over the skyscrapers and seeing neon lights flashing across the city is an incredible experience.
21- Explore Pop Culture in Akihabara
Anime and manga lovers should head to Akihabara for an immersive experience.
A range of manga and gaming centres line the streets of Akihabara, where shoppers can find everything they want to complete their collection – magazines, comics, DVDs, figurines, playing cards, and so many knick-knacks.
It is also a great place to try on cosplay costumes, take pictures, and visit a local maid café.
Most anime and manga shops are to the north of Akihabara Station.
22- Shop For Electronics In Akihabara
Akihabara has several city blocks of Tokyo’s most significant stores selling electronic goods and gadgets alfresco-style along the pavement.
It can be bewildering with the big stores split into several outlets, each one a mega store of its own, with up to seven floors apiece selling everything from pocket calculators to electronic pets and plasma TVs.
Akihabara is the place to go if you’re keen on Japanese Otaku culture and electronic products.
Otaku culture encompasses electronics, gaming and anime but even if you aren’t, walking the streets of Akihabara is entertainment itself.
The area is also home to the strange phenomenon of Maid Cafes, where waitresses dress up in cutesy maid uniforms.
23- Explore the Happiest Place on Earth
Celebrate your inner child at one of the famous places in Tokyo – Tokyo Disneyland.
It is a vast theme park based on Disney movies and houses many Disney and non-Disney parks, attractions, and shopping areas.
When the sky darkens at night and the colourful lights come on, Disneyland becomes magical.
The evening parades are mind-blowing, and the impressive projections on the castle and fireworks also happen at night.
The ultimate attraction is the Tokyo DisneySea, where you can experience sailing the seven seas from the Mediterranean to the Americas.
Tokyo Disneyland is at 1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031, Japan.
24- Visit A Garden
It might surprise some that Tokyo contains many beautiful gardens that were once part of the estates of wealthy daimyo (lords).
Japanese gardens are ancient mystical places shaped by a harmonious blend of Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto traditions.
Some of these gardens are hidden on the grounds of the city’s prestigious hotels and restaurants.
Others are secluded behind the walls of temples, shrines and former estates.
The natural forms of their rocks, plants, trees, and ponds create a peaceful haven for spiritual meditation and quiet contemplation, and their gentle beauty serves as a soothing refuge from the hectic pace of the city.
Two such gardens are Happo-en (beautiful garden from any angle) and Cinzano (House of Camelia).
An adviser to the shogunate, Hikozaemon Okubo, lived at Happo-en gardens during the early seventeenth century.
Take a turn through its twisting pathways and pass 200-year-old bonsai trees and a central pond full of plump golden Koi.
Nestled amidst the trees is the delightful teahouse where visitors can partake in a traditional tea ceremony and learn that the art of drinking tea is as important as the art of brewing it.
The Chinzanso garden makes use of the undulating topography of the grounds of Hotel Chinzanso in Tokyo.
Stroll along the winding path to encounter various historical relics such as the 16th century Stone statues of Rakan carved in the images of Buddha’s priests, the serene Shiratama Inari shrine and a three-story pagoda built 1000 years ago without the use of a single nail.
There is one exceptional garden on the grounds of the Imperial Palace.
Many of Tokyo’s gardens are a fairyland of twinkling lights at night time, often up to 9 pm.
Happo-en Garden is at 1 Chome-1-1 Shirokanedai, Minato City, Tokyo (open until 8.30 pm). Chinzanso Garden is at 2 Chome-10 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo.
25- Visit The Tokyo Railway Station
The 100-year-old Marunouchi side of the station is restored to its pre-war condition.
The station is split into Marunouchi and Yaesu sides and was built in 1914 by architect Tatsuno Kingo.
The station was badly firebombed during WWII during the B-29 firebombing on May 25, 1945, shattering its impressive rooftop domes.
There’s a ‘Traveller’s Help Office’ under the main dome staffed by helpful English-speaking experts who provide information on how to travel around Tokyo.
Do not leave home without it (you can only purchase it from outside Japan).
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