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Things to do in Tokyo at night

Are you a little jetlagged and wondering what are the things to do in Tokyo at night? This guide will give you plenty of ideas on how to enjoy your nights in Japan. Tokyo literally glows after dark and I would even say that it's during the night that this city really comes to life. Amongst the best things to do in Tokyo at night is to go out partying with locals, singing, enjoying a proper pub crawl and of course, exploring the Tokyo adult only scene. 

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Things to do in Tokyo at night

Because of its geographical location, Tokyo has a rather early sunset year round. In fact, the sun goes down as early as 4 pm during winter and 7 pm the latest in the summer. This means that Tokyo was indeed built for nightlife and it's only natural that you should expect to experience some of the best things to do in Tokyo at night. During our 7 day Tokyo itinerary we even made an effort to wake up later and start the day in such way that we do most of our sightseeing after dark. Needless to say that if you want to photograph Tokyo, then you should do so after the sun goes down to properly capture the vibrant and colourful Tokyo at night.

Reflections night time rain Tokyo

Tokyo from above

As previously mentioned, Tokyo really looks spectacular at night. It's incredible to see its vastness from above. There are various sky restaurants, Tokyo towers and observation decks you can access. My personal favourite is the observational deck in Mori Building in Roppongi Hills. An alternative is the Tokyo Metropolitan Building which has free admission and it offers fantastic views from its towers. You can read more about Tokyo from above.

Tokyo Pub Crawls

There is nothing better than enjoying an authentic Tokyo Pub Crawl after dark. Just make sure you know the area well, or get a guide to do it all for you. This helps ensure you stay safe and you don't land in an establishment which may take advantage of your limited language skills. We had a blast during our pub crawl and we simply can't wait to return to Tokyo and do it all again.

Karaoke

Ah, the Japanese Karaoke. Karaoke is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo at night. I can't imagine a trip to Japan without indulging in a session of Karaoke. You can rent a room just for you and your friends, or ask to be part of a larger group so you get to know a few more people. Either way, the Japanese love the idea of Karaoke and you should most certainly experience it.

dark alleys tokyo night

Clubs

Japanese people know how to party, so expect the Tokyo clubs to be incredible, vibrant and explosive. Some clubs are even a little weird, with dancers and stage singers dressed really weird. But weird is what Japan is known for and that's partly why I love this place so much. For a good time, get ready to spend some time listening to good music, dancing all night long.

Concerts

If you love music but don't fancy going clubbing, nor want to do any Karaoke, attending a Japanese concert is the right middle ground. Popular bands sell their tickets months in advance so make sure you make concert plans accordingly. Japanese concerts are a lot of fun, especially if you go to see a trendy Japanese band. It gets weird, over the top and really awesome.

Matsuri

Matsuri are Japanese festivals and you will find that most of them are celebrated after dark. You will find great food, people cheering, lots of fun activities and even fireworks or large bonfires depending on the festival. It's definitely one of the nicest things to do in Tokyo at night.

Tokyo Japan Street Night

Narrow Alleyways

There are several narrow alleyways in Tokyo, all lined with bars and Izakaya. The most famous ones are the Piss Alley in Shinjuku and Drunkard's Alley in Shibuya. These are popular places after dark, especially after office hours when various salarymen go there to eat and have a few pints.

Cruise

You can enjoy a Yakatabune which is a type of private Japanese boat. These are really beautifully decorated and they have tatami mats and low tables. They are meant to resemble a high-class Japanese home and it's quite exclusive for upper-class guests. You can identify them by their red lanterns hung outside of the cabin.

Theme Park

Theme Parks are epic at night because you can get lost in the myriad lights and colours. You can access various Theme Parks in Tokyo, with Disneyland and DisneySea being amongst the most popular ones. They are open from 8:30 AM until 10 PM. A perfect thing to do in Tokyo at night to have the ultimate theme park fun.

Ginza Shopping

Ginza looks lavishing during night time and all the stores put up a decadent light show to catch your eye. Shopping in Tokyo at night is fantastic as the stores are quieter and the streets look so much more vibrant and colourful.

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Standing Bars

Standing bars are called Tachinomiya. These are great for a quick drink and a snack. They are popular amongst locals, especially for a shortstop on the way home from work. They mostly serve yakitori and it is common for one particular standing bar to be the most popular bar in a neighbourhood.

Cherry Blossom

Many Japanese gather under the cherry blossom trees to have a late night picnic. It's a really common thing to do during the cherry blossom festival. In Tokyo, you can go to Ueno or Yoyogi, for example, and enjoy this very cool Japanese tradition. It's not uncommon for one young employee to find a good hanami spot very early in the morning and to wait until the evening for all his/her colleagues to join.

Street food

Nothing beats the street food in Tokyo and it's usually more fun to walk around in Tokyo at night and sample the local specialities. In neighbourhoods like Shinjuku, you can find street vendors until late at night, when the streets are still buzzing with locals in search of a good time.

Popular Japanese food

Senso-ji

It's common to visit shrines and temples at night, especially if you wish to avoid crowds. Senso-ji is open 24/7 so visiting it during night time is your best bet if you wish to photograph it without any other people around.

Akihabara

Akihabara is definitely one of those Tokyo districts best visited at night. This is when tourists and locals come together and literally invade the bustling streets of this neighbourhood. Known as the electronic district, you will find many things to do, starting from shopping, through maid cafes, to special sex shops. Akihabara is the best place to be for a quick peek into's Japan most unusual lifestyle. And as always, you either love or hate Akihabara, due to its revealing anime and manga characters on display.

Shinjuku

There is no denying that one of the best things to do in Tokyo at night is to meander around Shinjuku's Red District. Kabukicho is Asia's largest red district and an interesting place for adults interested in 18+ activities. There are plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants in the area, as well as adult establishments and parlours. Just make sure you read our Tokyo adult guide first, and learn how to stay out of trouble.

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Bowling

Bowling is still a cool craze in Japan, hence you will be able to access most bowling alleys during night time as well. Some are even open 24/7 so why not take your friends and have some after-hours fun.

Arcades

Arcades are great in Tokyo but note that they are quite loud and some permit smoking indoors. Spending time in arcades is a popular thing to do in Tokyo at night and you will find that most of them are packed with people until closing time. You can find various arcades in Akihabara, for example. Just remember that gambling is illegal in Japan so you are technically just playing for fun.

Don Quijote Stores

Don Quijote has to be one of my favourite stores in Tokyo. You can find several all across the city, but the Akihabara one is my go-to place. It's open until early morning, so you have the whole night to wander and shop around. You'll find all sorts of things such as sweets, cosmetics, clothes and even sex toys. It's a really fun place, especially during the night, when is less crowded.

Akihabara Train Station Tokyo

Manga and Anime Clubs

Did you know there are manga and anime clubs in Tokyo? They are usually open throughout the night and you can get access to a small room where you can read, watch movies and even sleep. These places are also popular amongst couples going on dates where they can have a private room to watch a movie. These clubs have an extensive collection of manga and anime books, movies and tv series.

Night walk

Whether you want to photograph Tokyo at night or just fancy having a relaxed walk, Tokyo's empty streets are usually quite nice and quiet. Chiyoda, for example, will feel almost deserted with almost no people or cars around. It feels strange to be in world's largest metropolis, yet have a moment of silence right in the centre of the city. For a more vibrant walk, head over to Shibuya or Shinjuku and enjoy the jumbo ads and awesome colourful lights.

Onsen

The first time we visited an onsen was during our trip to Nikko. That was the first time when I had the chance to be in the onsen during the night. After that, I literally got the taste for these incredible hot baths so I started searching for them in Tokyo too. I was surprised to see how many there are and super excited to learn that most of them are open after dark. Can you imagine anything better than being relaxed in natural hot water during night time? Don't forget to check how to use an onsen.

Japanese Onsen Ryokan

Take a cab to the airport

This might sound a little weird but bear with me here. We needed to be at the airport for 4 am and there were no transportation options for that time. Thus, we had to book a cab in advance for our night ride. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever experienced something more surreal than that cab ride right. It was as if I were in a dream, going over various flyovers, passing through neighbourhoods with massive skyscrapers. I saw a different side a Tokyo. One which I only read about in books such as 1Q84. My night ride with the cab was definitely one of the coolest things to do in Tokyo.

What did you think?

Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Leave a comment below.

Responses

A
Anthony
04 Jan 2018

Hi Cory!

I am planning for a 10-day stay in Tokyo with friends and am using your amazing articles to help me, such as where to stay, buying sim cards, and using the metro. It will be our first time in Japan and Tokyo. Thanks so much!

Currently we're still looking for a lot of things to do to fill out our 10 days in Tokyo. I would like your advice on what we've found so far (especially if you have experienced it, too!) and what else we might be missing out on. Any & all recommendations that come to mind, especially your favorite places, please let us know!

We are mostly interested in unique modern casual experiences that don't consume too much time (for example, hedgehog cafe), and are also looking for recommendations for street food areas with a lot of variety. Shopping and tourist destinations are planned enough already. We're not really interested in art, museums, or music, but perhaps can be persuaded if it's really fun! We are definitely not interested in spiritual, alcohol, nightlife, maid cafe, or any adult entertainment.

Here are some of the things we've planned:
Nakano/Suginami: Nakano Broadway, Totoro House, Koenji secondhand markets, shotengai
Taito: Asakusa kimono rental
Chiyoda: Akihabara, shopping, owl cafe, LOVE sculpture, Godzilla head @ Toho cinema
Shinjuku: Shin-Okubo Koreatown
Chuo: Hakuhinkan Toy Park, Ginza shopping at night, sushi @ Tsukiji outer market
Minato: Aoyama Flower Market Tea Shop, Roppongi
Shibuya: Harajuku, Hedgehog Cafe, Sailor Moon store, Tokyu Foodshow, Hachiko, famous street crossing
Mitaka: Ghibli museum
Chiba: Disney
Tama: Sanrio Puroland

Thanks for your time and all you do with this website!
-friends from California

C
Cory
06 Jan 2018

Hi Anthony,

Thank you for your message. :)
Good list so far for sure. A couple of notes, make sure you get your tickets for Ghibli and Disney in advance. We learned this the hard way...
I would add the following:

Shinjuku - Memory Lane and Kabukicho. Even if you are not interested in adult entertainment, the red district in Shinjuku (Kabukicho) is super vibrant and amazing for photos. The only rule is to go around, observe, enjoy the crazy but avoid the restaurants, pubs etc there. They are not authentic and too expensive. But def something you shouldn't miss in my opinion. Memory Lane is full of small eateries with epic yakitori. A great place for street food.

For interesting shopping items, I would add Loft to the list. There are lots of Loft shops all around. Honestly, you will end up spending half a day there, so many cute things.

For Harajuku, I would add omotesando hills. It's a really nice street which I absolutely love. Especially in the evening. Don't forget omotesando plaza, go to top floor at the Starbucks there for some epic views of the city.

To see Tokyo from above, again, Shinjuku is the place for it. I'd go to the Metropolitan Government as the entry is free and you can get to their top observatory. It's pretty nice. Besides, it's located in the skyscraper district in Shinjuku which is just epic by default.

Harajuku: don't forget to eat crazy crepes. They will literally change your life. You can find plenty of stores located on the main Takeshita street. It's also where you can try the epic mega colourful candy floss.

As for activities, I would actually try something traditional. I know you said kimono rental, but I would probably book a tea ceremony as well. Maybe this is just me, but I found it incredibly interesting.

I know you said nothing spiritual :) but since you are going to Asakusa, I feel it would such shame to not see the great Senso-ji. It just looks so epic, with its gardens and the interesting Pagoda next to it. It's also entirely free. I would also go there for an omikuji which is so fun to play with. I'm not religious, but I really enjoyed seeing a more traditional Japan.
Also in Asakusa, don't forget Nakamise Dori for street food and the nearby streets filled with all sort of cool items. Think cheap chopsticks and norens. I loved it.

Not sure if parks are on the list, but I would add Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park. I especially enjoyed Ueno, because right next to the park there are loooots of streets filled with epic food. After the Asakusa kimono rental, walk to Ueno. It will take an hour on foot, but you will get to see a more relaxed and interesting Tokyo, beyond the crazy streets. Every time I go back to Tokyo, I make sure to do this walk. In Ueno, go to okachimachi market. Lots of street food!

If you love animals, perhaps consider adding an owl café and maybe even a cat café. I heard great things about them, especially in the Harajuku area. I didn't experience them though, it's just purely based on what others recommended me.

For an old-school Japan (where you won't find tourists) you can do a half a day in Shibamata. There are nice streets with wooden houses. Mainly residential, but you can find some street food, a retro toy museum and various places for lunch. We had lunch there and I swear, it was amazing.

If you want a crazy cool underground experience, spend some time in the main Tokyo Station. It's not just a station, but a maze and a multi-level mall...underground. You will find the ramen street there as well.
And if you guys are brave, you can also add a Japanese bath experience to the itinerary.

Those are my recommendations. If you have any questions, please let me know, happy to answer and help.
P.S. since you guys are going to Japan, I would like to kindly invite you to familiarise with Japanese customs and manners. https://www.youcouldtravel.com/travel-blog/how-to-behave-in-japan-essent...

You are not expected to be Japanese in all circumstances, of course, but it is incredibly appreciated when you try ;)

Have lots of fun!