Discodayo - Sakura Night Fever
With the weather slowly turning warmer and the trees turning leafy, those highly anticipated cherry blossoms are nearly upon us. To welcome the sakura season, Discodayo is putting on a very special late-night sakura themed disco. We're not quite sure where the sakura theme comes in, but it has all the ingredients for a great dance party: the DJs spinning everything from 70's disco to 2000s funk and free-flowing cheap drinks (¥300 each before 12am and ¥500 each after that). So when you've finished a great day of hanami, hop on over to Gee-Ge to keep the party going all night long.
Bars of the week
Gem by Moto
A drinks menu is provided at Ebisu’s Gem by Moto, but locals know you’re best to ignore it. Instead ask manager Marie Chiba or her staff to pick out the perfect drink to match your mood. This counter-only hideout is the repository of some serious sake expertise, so you’re in safe hands. The food is good too, particularly the ham cutlets with blue cheese and cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, which will keep tempting you back for one last round. Gem lives up to its name, especially in Ebisu – a neighbourhood that suffered from a serious lack of proper sake bars before Chiba and her team rolled into town in July 2015. In fact, it’s become so popular that reservations are recommended at all times.
Established 40 years ago, the aptly named Grandfather’s started out with a playlist style that was uncommon at the time, blending together rock LPs one song at a time. Today, the tunes are a selection of popular music (mainly AOR and funk and soul) from the ’70s, when vinyl records were mainstream. However, the owner is constantly on the lookout for new music and if a modern artist wins his favour they’ll get some ‘airtime’ too. (We recently heard him spin a few tracks by Joss Stone and Rumer.) After all these years, the interior is still well maintained, giving off a rich ambience that’s appropriate for such a venerable bar and that lends an extra level of charm to the music.
Seasonal cocktails are the speciality at Ishinohana, Shibuya's answer to the high-end cocktail bars of Ginza. At a basement location just a minute's walk from Shibuya Station, owner Shinobu Ishigaki wields an array of fresh fruit and vegetables when creating his distinctive drinks: a gin and tonic is enlivened with kumquat, a margherita gets an injection of housemade cassis confiture. There are entire menus devoted just to mojitos and martinis, plus a sizeable list of originals including Ishigaki's award-winning Claudia (martini with pineapple juice and caramel syrup) and Polar Star (aquavit, apple syrup and lemon juice). The quality is generally very high indeed, and first-time visitors should find the atmosphere considerably less intimidating than at Ginza's bartending temples.
The best bars and nightlife in Tokyo
Best tourist-friendly gay bars in Shinjuku Ni-chome
Whether it be dancing the night away at a club or drinking and meeting new people in a tiny dive bar, Shinjuku Ni-chome offers some of the best nights out in Tokyo. No matter if you’re straight, gay or non-binary, the capital’s LGBT hub will deliver. If you want to experience one of the best parts of Japanese bar culture – talking with and being entertained by the staff – but don’t quite know where to head for English-friendly banter, these five bars will fit the bill.
Top Tokyo clubs
Opened back in late 2016, basement club Vent has defied expectations and become a regular stalwart in Tokyo's club scene. Their 'revolutionary' speaker system and a bold attitude to bookings have worked a treat, with an eclectic line-up of European headliners, local DJ talent, and everything in between drawing the crowds without making it feel overhyped.
The biggest club in Tokyo, Ageha suffers from a far-flung location and dimensions that can feel a bit too cavernous. It offers three dancefloors, a pool area, numerous bars and chill-out spaces, and the best sound system in town. Women should check out the cubicle nearest to the toilet entrance – it leads to a secret, lockable room. The club provides a free bus from Shibuya every half hour. Board at the bottom of Roppongi Dori; you’ll need photo ID featuring your birth date to be allowed on.
Labelled the spiritual successor of Yellow, Eleven and Air, the latest venture by Tokyo club scene champions Global Hearts provides much-needed relief for the city's more discerning friends of electronic tunes. The medium-sized space, in a basement on Shibuya's Dogenzaka, consists of a dancefloor and bar area, and is poised to offer a stage to both international visitors and local stars.
Sound Museum Vision
Space Lab Yellow's short-lived resurrection as Eleven aside, it seemed for a good few years that the Tokyo club scene wouldn't be getting any new venues that were any larger than a shoebox. That changed in late 2011, with the opening of this 1,500-capacity space in Shibuya – run by Global Hearts, the folks behind Daikanyama club Air. Sound Museum Vision spreads the action across four rooms, the largest of which, Gaia, has a sound system loud enough to make your teeth rattle. Regular club nights include the Classics (hip hop), Alien Radio (techno) and Girls Festival, in which all ladies get in for free.
Womb is a top-flight club with a vast dancefloor, great lighting, a super-bass sound system and what claims to be ‘Asia’s largest mirror ball’. House, techno and drum ’n’ bass are the usual sounds here. Womb’s schedule is packed with foreign names, but DJ Aki (drum ’n’ bass) is one local hero who plays here.