At night this international shopping district lights up and comes alive, becoming barely recognisable in comparison to its daytime form. The appeal of Roppongi at nighttime is that it caters to so many different audiences, with a diverse range of establishments all within walking distance of the station. This means that just walking on the street you will see people from all walks of life, drawn to this area for one purpose; to have fun.
Nightlife in Roppongi
At the heart of Roppongi is Roppongi Crossing, which can be used as a bearing point. It is easily recognisable and the first thing you will see when coming out of Roppongi Station. The roads coming off Roppongi Crossing lead to bustling Shibuya in the west and the Imperial Palace in the east, with the fashionable Aoyama to the north and Tokyo Tower to the south-east. This central location makes Roppongi, along with Shibuya and Shinjuku, one of the nightlife centers of Tokyo.
Roppongi is surrounded by embassies and the local headquarters of multinational corporations, and so has traditionally been the most ethnically diverse areas in Tokyo. English menus are common in even the smaller restaurants and bars, and this is one reason why Roppongi is a great place to go in search of somewhere for dinner and drinks.
There is something great about walking around the backstreets and finding a little hidden bar that sparks your interest, and we really recommend doing it in Roppongi especially.
Just remember that if there are no prices on the menu outside it is probably expensive, and if someone on the street is trying you to convince you to go to their bar you should do as the locals do and ignore them.
Eat, drink, and be merry
Although it would be impossible to try to come up with a comprehensive list of the top establishments in Roppongi from the thousands in the area, we can give you an idea of what is here so you know what to expect before you arrive.
Bars, pubs, and live music
Bars, pubs, and live music is where Roppongi comes into its own. No matter what sort of atmosphere or drink you are looking for you will be able to find it here. If you are looking for craft beer, BrewDog Roppongi has 22 taps with their famous Scottish IPAs and Japanese craft beers, and Two Dogs Taproom has 25 beers on tap and specialize in wood-fired California-style pizza.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more divey, Train Bar and Jumanji 55 are both popular with locals and expats.
Legends Sports Bar, Sports Bar C, and the Roppongi branch of the Hobgoblin chain of British-style pubs have sports covered, with a focus on European soccer, rugby, baseball, and special events.
There are also a lot of live music venues, with morph tokyo, Roppongi Buzz, Bauhaus, and Abbey Road Tokyo hosting bands on most nights of the week.
You can also find jazz and acoustic sets at Birdland and Satindoll, with world-class artists playing nightly at Billboard Tokyo in Roppongi Midtown and the legendary Blue Note Tokyo.
Roppongi is also home to some of the top fine dining establishments in Tokyo, with around ten michelin star restaurants in the area. Although reservations are mandatory, this is where you will find some of the best sushi at Sushi Saito, Sukiyabashi Jiro, and Ichi, and world-class French fare with a Japanese touch at Édition Koji Shimomura, Ryuzu, and Le Sputnik.
“Yoshizawa”, a Japanese restaurant that has been awarded the Michelin award three years in a row, has just opened on the West Walk in Roppongi Hills. You can find it on the 5th floor.
L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
L'atelier de Joel Robuchon is the world’s first French counter style restaurant which brings a new artistic flair to French dining. You can also find this restaurant in Roppongi Hills.
Chain izakayas and bars
The most visible in Roppongi, the chain izakayas and bars are flourishing throughout Tokyo, and although this consolidation is reducing individual areas into facsimiles of their diverse past, they are popular for a reason; the food and atmosphere is consistent and generally quite good, and the prices are relatively cheap. Due to their scale, they also usually have electronic menus with multiple languages, and are good for larger groups without a reservation. Gindaco is a very popular takoyaki and highball bar, and Isomaru Suisan is a nice chain seafood izakaya.
Hard Rock Café
With such an international crowd, Roppongi is home to most of the international bar/restaurants that have made it to Japan, such as Outback Steakhouse, Tony Roma’s, and Hard Rock Cafe, as well as their more exclusive variants like Wolfgang Steakhouse and Barbacoa. If you’re looking for some non-Japanese cuisine, you’ll find it in Roppongi.
Staying out late
If you are staying out later, or would like to do something more than eat and drink, Roppongi also has you covered.
If you wander down towards Roppongi Hills you will find a range of bars open until dawn. Head over to bar TUSK if you are looking for a relaxed setting. Choose your drink from a range of originally made cocktails, and then let the music soothe your soul.
If you’re looking for a more lively atmosphere, head to Rigoletto where you have an opportunity to try a wide assortment of dishes and international wine.
Kyabakura, or hostess clubs, are very popular with Japanese businessmen, and are drinking establishments where you are paired with a Japanese woman to chat and drink with. Although this may come across as an odd thing to pay for from a Western perspective, they are the modern equivalent of the Geisha tradition, and an ostentatious favourite for businessmen to relax with clients on the company dime.
The pricing usually consists of an hourly fee, and you can tip the women by buying them (usually alcohol-free) drinks. Overwhelmingly catering for the domestic market, the menus and pricing are often only in Japanese, and even in Roppongi there won’t be that many staff who can speak English.
If you are still curious, we recommend going in on the lowest price plan and not going crazy with the drinks. If you would like a comparable, yet more exciting and interesting experience, a burlesque club is a better bet.
Burlesque clubs are what would traditionally be referred to as cabaret, with Burlesque Tokyo being the one we recommend in Roppongi. The performance is vibrant, in a modern atmosphere, the staff and performers are friendly, and it is not exclusively designed for male patrons. In a similar fashion to Japanese idols, it is a sanitized, fun experience where you can easily communicate with the performers and enjoy the show, with a variety of performances from the alluring, to the amusing.
The show is held three times a day and lasts for around one hour. There is a flat entrance fee, on top of which you can buy drinks and tip the performers. If you take a photo and upload it to instagram you can get a free drink, and you can also get snacks from the bar. Burlesque
Tokyo’s sister venue, Burlesque Yavay, is for those looking for an anime twist on the performance. Here you can see a more Japanese-style show, with the performers dressing up as anime characters and performing anime theme songs. Both come highly recommended if you are looking for something a bit more exotic and playful, in a safe environment.
If an all-nighter is what you are planning, your best bet is to hit a club. For a comprehensive list of what’s going on and the latest in the club scene in Roppongi, check out https://noctive.jp/.
Some of the larger clubs in the Roppongi area are V2TOKYO, 1 OAK TOKYO, and SEL Octagon Tokyo, but other clubs like ele tokyo also regularly host world class DJs.