Just like neighbouring Shimokitazawa, Sangenjaya is one of the most popular districts for young and hip Tokyo residents, located in the quiet and expansive Setagaya Ward.
What is "Sangenjaya"?
Packed with an abundance of charming bars on narrow streets, the area is just minutes from Shibuya but still keeps a quiet and laid-back vibe.
Sangenjaya may not be as well known as the upscale hipster enclaves of Shibuya, Nakameguro or Ebisu, but what it might lack in fame it makes up in local atmosphere, and in many cases the prices are a bit lower here too. Located just two stops and a mere 4 minutes away from Shibuya on the Denentoshi line, it’s a neighborhood well-worth exploring. Especially once the sun has set, and the entire area becomes a lively mess of shop owners trying their best to get your attention, drunk salarymen and hip locals on bound for their favorite watering holes.
But for the first time visitor, the selection of bars might seem daunting. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite spots to get you started.
Sankakugai (streets with bars)
A good starting point is the area informally called Sankakugai (sankaku means triangle, and gai means street in Japanese) located next to Sangenjaya Station on the Den-en-toshi line. This neighborhood is packed with tiny, intimate bars in old buildings crammed between two of the major streets running through the neighborhood. Most of the places around here are very reasonably priced.
Hoshigumi Fried Kitchen (bar)
If you are hungry, Hoshigumi would be a great starting point. The same people actually operate two small bars located about two meters from each other. The first one specializes in raw fish and hotpots. The second one, dubbed Hoshigumi Fried Kitchen, unsurprisingly specializes in fried food, primarily Kushiage (fried food on sticks) and chicken.
Hoshigumi Fried Kitchen exterior
Kushiage (fried food on sticks)
Gasa (bar specializing in puffer-fish)
In case you are the adventurous type, we recommend a visit to Gasa (but make sure to bring a Japanese speaking person for the best experience). This traditional snack-bar is run by an older couple. He is licensed to handle fugu; the poisonous puffer-fish can be deadly unless it is prepared correctly, and in a particularly gruesome way to boot. If you are brave enough however, try a cup of their hirezake, hot sake with a grilled fugu-fin inside.
Hirezake(hot sake with a grilled fugu-fin)
Tico – Stand Up Please (bar)
Another one of our favorite bars is Tico – Stand Up Please. A tiny tachinomi-ya (standing only) serving their homemade infused alcohol. On the night we went there, the selection consisted of pepper and coriander gin, coffee whiskey and dried fruit brandy. All for 500 yen each. There’s a table charge of 300 yen that grants you an unlimited supply of nuts. Really dry nuts, one should add, guaranteed to make you thirsty.
- Tico 三軒茶屋 Stand Up Please
If all the bar-hopping makes you crave some dancing, head over to Orbit, a small club/concert venue located on the opposite side of Setagaya Dori. Their schedule is filled with everything from jazz nights to the club BitBeats, where you can challenge your friends in different retro videogames all to the tunes from the live DJ. Orbit also has a podcast consisting of mixes from some of their DJs.
Sky Carrot (café/bar)
In case you prefer to wind down somewhere more laid back, head over to Sky Carrot, the café/bar on the top floor of Carrot Tower, the tallest building in the area. Here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a beer while enjoying the amazing view. Sky Carrot is open until 10pm.
- オークラレストラン スカイキャロット
- 東京都世田谷区太子堂4-1-1 キャロットタワー26F
Nightlife in Sangenjaya