Tokyo

Best Bars in

Tokyo
There’s no place on earth that fuses together tradition and modernity quite like Japan’s capital, and the Tokyo bar scene embodies this calibrated tension.

On one hand, this city is a technological mecca of screaming neon, anime and otaku, and you’ll find plenty of Tokyo bars pushing the boundaries and producing all sorts of atypical and wonderful creations. However, this is only one side of the city. On the other hand, it is also a leafy zen paradise which embraces precision and calm, qualities exuded by many of the most iconic bars in Tokyo. This combination produces one of the world’s most exciting bar scenes, one that perfectly complements the city’s renowned gastronomy (only France surpasses Tokyo’s 226 Michelin-starred restaurants).

If you want to experience meticulous, masterful cocktail making in a lavish and sophisticated atmosphere, then head to Ginza. World-famous luxury shopping destination by day, high-end  entertainment district come nightfall, this is where Tokyo’s most fashionable and wealthy crowds come together in some of the city’s finest restaurants and classiest bars. Come here for after work or evening drinks and enjoy the fabulous people-watching, before moving on to Tokyo’s nightlife holy trinity: Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi.

One of the city’s most densely populated and neon-lit districts, Shibuya is filled with exciting late-night options, with countless bars, eateries, arcades and karaoke venues drawing in a youthful crowd. It is also the city’s hub for dance music, with dozens of nightclubs featuring top local acts as well as international DJs. For something a bit more characterful, check out Nonbei Yokocho (or “Drunkard’s Alley”), a narrow alleyway filled with the tiniest bars and restaurants you’ll ever see.

Just a few stations away, fast-paced and bustling Shinjuku offers scores of izakaya and beer joints, and is also home to Tokyo’s small but animated gay neighborhood. Must-visits include the Kabuchiko red-light district and its many small restaurants, bars and live music venues, as well as the colorful and traditional Golden Gai, a cluster of little alleyways housing dozens of pocket-sized drinking dens.

Roppongi is probably the most cosmopolitan and westernized Tokyo district, concentrating a large portion of the city’s expat population. International tourists as well as locals come in droves to enjoy its buzzing, world-famous nightlife. Here, you’ll find everything from fancy bars and restaurants to lively jazz venues, dive bars and nightclubs, an exciting mix that’s sure to satisfy any and all late-night whims.

But if, like us, you like to venture off the beaten path, we saved these next picks for last.

First off, make sure you check out Shimokitazawa, a cool and laid-back bohemian neighborhood close to Shibuya. With dozens of vintage shops and record stores and a thriving scene of indie music venues, this hipster mecca is beloved by Tokyo’s cool kids. Here you’ll find an abundance of chic cafes, casual eateries, retro bars, and sharp cocktail joints, in an atmosphere that’s way chiller than its high-energy neighbor.

Another favorite is vibrant Ebisu, which is filled with lively izakaya as well as stylish restaurants and bars with relaxed, friendly vibes. Come here to enjoy a fun evening of eating and drinking surrounded by hip 30-something food-loving locals.

Creative and hyper-fashionable Daikanyama is right nearby, and so is artsy and charming Nakameguro and its cherry tree-lined river banks. Both are rife with trendy spots to grab a bite and enjoy delicious craft cocktails, but they are even more beautiful during the day, with tons of bookstores, art galleries, designer boutiques and concept stores to discover.

Why not kill four birds with one stone and discover these authentic Tokyo neighborhoods over the course of an afternoon and evening? We promise, you’ll be glad you did.

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in Tokyo
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