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Youth in Asia - Nightclubbing


16 Jun 2002
I was in Japan from November 2001 - January 2002, and in my free time, I went on a constant search to find nightclubs, for foreigners who plan on going to japan I think should really consider taking part in the nightlife sometime while they are over there.

When I have reviewed my itinerary for the trip, I realized that since I would be there for skateboarding, which would take place 90% of the time during the day, I'd have a lot of free time to wander off and explore the Tokyo metro area. When I arrived in Japan, I wasn't quite on their time the first few days as I'd often have the need to sleep during the day and try to gain my energy/strength back that eight naps and a handful of in-flight movies stole from my body. In all the guide books I read, they always mentioned places for foreigners to go to enjoy nightlife though, in Japan, it's quite different from here in the states.

I wanted to write a little about different nightclubs/bars I had gone to and describe how the scene was in actuality because I found it to be different from books. I hope everyone learns something they didn't already know.

I walked around Shibuya one night when four or five girls from Yokohama approached me and asked if I liked hip-hop music because there was an event going on, so they gave me an invitation. They took me to this club in Shibuya's Dogenzaka district when it was a surprisingly low 500yen (3.50usd) since I had a special invitation to the event, and I was handed a free drink token. I approached the heart of the nightclub and noticed a stage, good size dance floor, a bar and tables surrounding the place. They had a live performance of some Japanese freestyle rappers, and the girls took me over to a table after a run to the bar. We drank, so after about six five-hundred yen cocktails, they finally finished and then they had a DJ start playing dance music, breakbeat, dub, jungle, different kinds. I continued to talk with the girls, and they asked if I could breakdance. I'm not sure why exactly they asked that, but the funny thing is that I can breakdance. Maybe I was just drunk, spoke of it and didn't remember, but I remember next walking downstairs to the dance floor (which was like the centre of where everyone was sitting at tables and such.) If your the only foreigner in a nightclub, you stand out quite a bit. Depending on the nightclub and depending on how you look and dance, the Japanese are usually shy and even nervous about dancing or being social. The dance music had played before I made my way down the few stairs for quite some time. People would go on the dance floor, sway back and forth for about five minutes and go back to their tables, so I approached the dance floor when a good beat came on and started to breakdance in front of a crowd of Japanese, which didn't make me nervous at all (even with the ratio of girls to guys at this event was like 4:1). Hence, as I heard cheering, I knew everyone liked what they saw, then after the song, I approached my table, which had then multiplied a couple of times with other people (yet the exact seat in which I had sat before was empty, just now it had new faces around it. I then went with some of the girls to go chug some more mixed drinks and then went back to the table. I noticed that all around me were girls and two of the performers that had rapped before, and we all talked. I looked around the nightclub and noticed people keeping to themselves, sitting alone, not being social. I wanted to get more people to dance, so I took my group of people down to the dance floor and danced with them. (Note: Bumping and Grinding hasn't caught on much in Japan, but it's fun to start trends.) So after I had lots of people dancing, I tried to pay as much attention to every single person without leaving anyone out. Yet, still, there was about 40% of people who just sat, or stood against the wall, looking sad, or as if they weren't having a good time. This is common in Japan. It's really too bad to see happen.

Shinjuku/Roppongi: Infamous for Foreigners.

It's weird to be the youngest foreigner in Tokyo, well at least that's what it seemed like, if you are young like me (20 - 25), you'll feel sooooo not out of place in Tokyo, it seemed the majority of people roaming the streets are around my age as well. However, in the nightclubs, it was a different story.

Roppongi, I would not recommend it, as well as most Japanese residents will tell you it has gone to the dogs, almost in a literal sense. I will recommend you to go to Roppongi if you want one of the following,

- People at nightclubs who speak English, it's funny, you'll see a Japanese girl whom you can tell didn't finish a high school education and speaks near-fluent English (due to being with Americans so much.) You'll find girls like this there, it's the same for Americans who are obsessed with Asian girls, but like the other way around, but be careful, Japan's population who have the HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is quite high, though don't generalize the fact, it's true. Still, it really depends on common sense. If a girl approaches you at a bar and wants to go to a love hotel, don't think it's a welcoming gift, you might leave Japan with more than you came with.

- Gaijin, this word is used mostly because of Kaigun (navy/marines) who plague the streets at night. On several occasions, I talked with some. Of course, all they had to talk about was how many girls they been sleeping with during the time they have off (they are usually only around the nightclubs on weekends.) , it seems the navy, military, marines keep their minds on war and multiple bed-partners, so as funny as it was to hear stories from them I didn't particularly appreciate seeing them. Aside from the gaijin that were stationed in Japan, there was also the stereotypical "American Business Man", who was probably the funniest to see. I mean, I wouldn't recommend anyone wearing a suit or sport's coat to a nightclub, because Tokyo is this massive thing built primarily on Pop-Culture and Fashion, so I recommend anyone visiting to take some good looking clothes for clubbing, t-shirts and jeans are just too bland.

Nightclubs are usually filled with Japanese people, American business men and other gaijin. I'd suggest you make friends with Japanese people outside of the club who will take you to nightclubs that don't cater to foreigners and ones in which you need to speak Japanese even to get in, if you can't speak Japanese and you have no clue about nightclubs here is all the advice you'll need.

Most helpful Advice the books don't tell you.

- Japanese Nightclubs usually don't start until 11:00 pm
- Ramen / Udon Shops are the best way to sober up at 5-9 am
since they are open 24hours.
- Memorize your way from the bar/nightclub to the JR Station,
the trains start back up at 5 am, don't use a taxi because they
are insanly exspensive.
- Bring nice clothes, fashionable, attractive, if going to clubs.
- Buy a JR Standard Rail-pass (250.00usd) , the last two weeks, and you'll spend way over 250.00 on the train if you plan on checking out Tokyo.

Helpful Japanese the books don't tell you.
(Note: I use really informal Japanese because it's spoken more than formal.)

kimi wa yoru no ju-ichi-ji ni hitobito o naka ni ire sasehajimemasuka.
"you start letting people in at 11, right?"

kono basho ni ii bar wa arimasuka.
"Does this place have a good bar?"

kono basho wa yonaka ni takusan no hito ga imasuka.
"Does this place get lots of people around midnight?"

naka ni hairu niwa ikurakakarimasuka.
"how much cash does it take to get in?"

boku no nomimono ni ippai vodka o iretekudasai.
"hook it up with hella' vodka in my drink. (say while they pour it.)


You've obviously done your homework!!!! I liked to poke around in Yokohama quite a few years back.....

Shibuya is definitely happening. Roppongi has turned into a three-ring circus at times.

In Roppongi, I usually used to make an annual trip to the Hard Rock, and Gas Panic. There was one spot that was on the hill that had the back of a school bus sticking out of the entranceway of the club. I don't quite remember the name of the place (too much beer). One other small spot that was on a corner up by the big screen that was really narrow allowed you to write your name on the ceiling. I had my name on there quite a few times through the years...we used to dance on top of the bar when it got crowded inside (which didn't take much to happen due to the skinny size of the bar...)

ghettocities, If I hadn't mentioned yet, welcome aboard.

Thanks for providing an non-girl fetish report. Glad to see others are just interested in a good club rather than a good night!

Tokyo and Osaka are the places to dig for those spots that most Gaijin will find hard to find. Sapporo is the pits. I've canvassed the city drinking spot buildings top to bottom and have opened so many doors just to find a boring drinking hole I gave up on Sapporo. Clubbing outright hurts. Well, "Bar isn't" helped for a bit but even that place is now gone.

I tried to pass along the "vampire look aka Suzie and the Banshees" but most just don't get it but at least the Yakuza didn't bother me.

Look forward to more of your posts!


I havent been to many clubs in Tokyo but I do have one recommendation.

"Blue" in Omote-sando. Run by "United Future Organisations" who produce some quality music.

Some of the best music Ive heard and very varied from samba beats, hip hop to techno.

They also have a radio show on J Wave.
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