Top music bars in Tokyo

Turn your evening tipple into something more soulful

World Kitchen Baobab
It’s easy to find a club in downtown Tokyo, where the music will be thumping and you can lose yourself on the dancefloor. It's even fairly simple to find a not-so-average cabaret pub with dancing geishas, a bar that works as a good pick-up spot, and live-music venues. But it’s a little harder to find a local music bar where you know the tunes will be quality and they’ll suit a more reflective mood. Here, we round up five of our favourite bars that are known for their refined record collections, for hosting choice DJs, and for generally just being havens for serious music lovers. 

DJ Bar Bridge

Movers and shakers from Global Hearts, the folks behind Shibuya clubs Vision and Air, moved boldly in opening this shiny new 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, including Tokyo scene veterans Nori and Toshiyuki Goto. The sound system, courtesy of domestic maker Rey Audio, is also top-grade for a smallish space like this. Audio aficionados shouldn't have anything to complain about here, while laymen will at least appreciate the reasonably priced drinks.

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Shibuya

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. Live events are also held here from time to time, offering performances by excellent Japanese musicians playing everything from Latin music to reggae to styles from Africa, Brazil and more. On occasion, they also feature overseas artists.

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Kichijoji
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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. 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.

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Shibuya

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. Little Soul Cafe is well-known for attracting overseas artists and record buyers, and the staff do their best to accommodate any enthusiastic music requests. First-timers are welcomed by the bar’s at-home feel, and music experts will never leave disappointed.

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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. It’s recently become popular for private get-togethers, anime song-listening sessions, and explosively loud screenings of live concert streams.

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Yoyogi

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