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The best music spots in Tokyo

55 of the city's finest music bars, clubs, record stores and gig venues – it's your ultimate guide to music in Tokyo

From record stores to rock clubs – find the best of Tokyo music

As a music city, Tokyo might not have the star power of London or New York, but what it does have is amazing diversity. No matter if it's '60s rock, noise, grime or something even more obscure you're into, somewhere in Tokyo there's a community of people just like you, who might even run shops or gig spots dedicated entirely to their favourite genre. And that's in addition to a thriving indie scene, some of the world's best clubs and scores of record stores stocking everything from vintage vinyl to cassette tapes.

To help you discover Tokyo's musical delights, we've put together this list of the city's very best music spots and divided it into bars and cafés, clubs and gig spots, and record stores. Whether you've just arrived or have lived here all your life, this list should be useful for expanding your musical vistas in Tokyo – a quest that requires neither connections nor (much) money, only an open mind and a passion for sound.

And when you're ready to go out and catch a show, start with our weekly roundup of Tokyo's best club gigs.

Music bars and cafés

World Kitchen Baobab

A cosmopolitan spot where you can enjoy music, food and alcohol from around the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, and Central and South America. World Kitchen Baobab is almost considered a sacred place by world music fans; it’s full of precious records and miscellaneous goods collected by the owner on his travels...

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Kichijoji

DJ Bar Bridge

Movers and shakers from Global Hearts, the folks behind Shibuya clubs Vision and Air, moved boldly in opening this shiny DJ bar on the top floor of an office building right in front of Shibuya Station. The spectacular views are combined with a lengthy list of residents...

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Shibuya

Time Out Café & Diner

The physical outpost of Time Out Tokyo's online empire brings a dash of cosmopolitan class to the Ebisu area – and it's a great hangout, too. Housed in the upstairs floor of key live venue Liquidroom, Time Out Café & Diner offers an ideal spot for lazy lunches, coffee sessions and gigs alike...

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Ebisu
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Grandfather's

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...

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Shibuya

Bar Blen Blen Blen

If you're in the mood for drinking the night away to Brazilian grooves in Shibuya, head straight for this second-floor hideout where the samba is always turned up to eleven and the bar serves expertly mixed caipirinhas until 4am. You'll also find a nice selection of booze-compatible bites...

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Shibuya

City Country City

Owned by musician Keiichi Sokabe, this Shimokita joint combines the functions of café and record store. Tucked away on the fourth floor of an office building that's seen its best days, City Country City stocks more records that the space can handle – as evidenced by the piles of vinyl stacked against the walls...

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Shimokitazawa
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Spincoaster

Opened in March 2015 by the energetic music media company Spincoaster, this bar combines high resolution and analogue sound systems for a unique vibe. The playlists are prepared by Spincoaster curators, covering a wide range of genres and eras in high quality audio...

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Yoyogi

Little Soul Cafe

Located in the music district of Shimokitazawa, this bar quietly opens its doors every evening from 9pm. When you walk inside, you’ll no doubt be overwhelmed by the staggering number of records lining the walls – there are 15,000 in total, featuring a wide range of music from ’60s soul to rare groove, and modern funk to disco...

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Shimokitazawa

Point 66

Opened in October 2015 on the fourth floor of a very average-looking building in the quiet Namikibashi area just south of Shibuya Station, Point 66 stays open through the night and fills up with energetic musos almost every evening. The brainchild of Katsuji Maezono, who ran legendary Nishi-Azabu club 328...

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Shibuya
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Trouble Peach

One of Shimokita's most venerable rock bars, Trouble Peach looks like something straight from the '70s. A favourite of local musicians and artists, it's one of those places you'd never just stumble upon, but rewards adventurous music fans with an exquisite soundtrack of rock and folk...

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Shimokitazawa
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Clubs and gig spots

Liquidroom

Recommended

This venue is often described as ‘legendary’ in international publications. It was born as a scruffy spot for gigs and club nights in Shinjuku’s seedy Kabukicho, but after a move to the more upmarket Ebisu, it now offers fewer club nights and more straight-up live events...

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Ebisu

Contact

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...

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Shibuya

Unit

Recommended

A medium-sized space that hosts everything from Japanese indie-rock bands to international stars, Unit focuses mainly on indie gigs during the week, while weekends see all-night techno parties and more experimental fare...

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Daikanyama
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Sound Museum Vision

A 1,500-capacity space in Shibuya, the cavernous 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...

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Shibuya

WWW

One of Tokyo's very best gig spots, WWW is distinguished by its tiered floor and high ceiling, which hint at its previous incarnation as a cinema while ensuring that even the shortest audience members can see what's happening on the stage. The Funktion One sound system packs a serious punch...

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Shibuya

Bar Bonobo

Found on a Harajuku back street not far from Jingu Stadium, Bonobo occupies an old two-storey house with a rooftop terrace. The ground-floor bar is complemented by a DJ booth and lounge upstairs, which is where the frequent gigs and other music events take place...

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Harajuku
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Koara

One of Shibuya's many 'box clubs', this chill DJ bar is known for booking the occasional big name, but usually operates under the radar. Entrance fees are rare, drinks are very reasonably priced, and the sound system is almost too good for such a small place...

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Shibuya

Aoyama Moonromantic

Aoyama isn't really the right part of town for grimy, run-of-the-mill live houses, and Moonromantic is cut from a more sophisticated cloth than the average 200-capacity music venue. The programming is eclectic, and on any given night might involve folk, post rock or world music...

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Aoyama

Soup

Housed in the basement under a public bath, this intimate music and club venue was run as a semi-illicit operation until the owners decided to go legit a few years back. It's a popular fixture on the noise and improv circuit, though the music isn't always so foreboding...

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Ochiai
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Circus

Having taken over the space vacated by long-running underground haunt Amate-Raxi, which closed down in August 2015 after eight years in Shibuya, Circus has already generated plenty of buzz on the Tokyo club scene. Massive Attack's Daddy G and Italian spinner Mr Ties were among its first international guests...

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Shibuya
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Record stores

Flash Disc Ranch

One of the top record stores in Shimokitazawa, an area littered with shops dealing in both vinyl and CDs, the spacious Flash Disc Ranch is found on the second floor of a run-down building on the south side of the station. The vintage sound system is usually turned up almost all the way...

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Shimokitazawa

Face Records

Founded in 1994 and still beloved by fans of all ages, Face stocks jazz, soul, reggae and world music in seven- and 12-inch vinyl form. The CD and DVD assortments are worth a look, too...

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Shibuya

Big Love

Trusted among musos for its good taste, Big Love is an independent record store that collects vinyl and cassette tapes of indie bands from the US, the UK and Europe. Soak in the atmosphere at the bar space where you can enjoy Shiga Kogen beer...

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Harajuku
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Technique

Technique is the purveyor of all strands of dance-music vinyl – from progressive house to nu-jazz. Several listening decks and knowledgeable staff make this the store of choice for many local DJs...

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Shibuya

Lighthouse Records

This atmospheric Shibuya record store focuses on genres such as house, disco and Balearic house, and also boasts a pair of handsome vintage Klipschhorn floor speakers. Prices are very reasonable...

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Shibuya

Jet Set

Based in Shimokitazawa and Kyoto (and online), Jet Set covers all genres with albums selected by their expert buyers. Best if you’re looking for soft rock, soul, house, disco and techno – or Japanese pop...

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Shimokitazawa
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Diskunion Shibuya

The second and third floors at Shibuya's Diskunion shop are a haven for collectors looking for secondhand rarities from genres ranging from J-pop and jazz to metal and classical. The other floors focus on genres like jazz and rare groove, punk and metal, Japanese oldies and...

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Shibuya

Discland Jaro

Shibuya has plenty of record shops specialising in electronic music, but Jaro is one of the few entirely jazz-focused stores in the area. First opened in 1973, it's housed in a basement filled with around 8,000 titles...

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Shibuya

Los Apson?

Founded in a Shinjuku apartment building back in 1994, this well-supported record shop was based in Hatagaya for well over a decade before moving to its current Koenji location in 2015. Underground records are the main draw, but you'll also find plenty of quirky T-shirts...

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Koenji
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Disc Shop Zero

It’s rare to find UK dub and Bristol bass music in Tokyo, but here you can choose from bands such as Massive Attack and Smith & Mighty, as well as reggae, breakbeat and dubstep groups...

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Shimokitazawa
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In the mood for rock?

Shinjuku’s top rock bars

There are many layers to the allure of Kabukicho, and you might be surprised to discover that old-school rock is one of them

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By: Annemarie Luck

Comments

1 comments
Ash V
Ash V

u wot m8? no JBS?