If you are in Tokyo for the first time I think it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s crowded, you are basically illiterate, and for the most part you don’t know the “rules”. That shouldn’t stop you from having a good time though. Overall, Tokyo and its people are pretty laid back and ready to have a good time. So here are a few tips that should help you successfully navigate Tokyo’s nightlife.
1. Public Transportation Stops at 11:00pm
If you are relying on public transportation to get around in Tokyo be aware that trains stop running around 11:00pm. That means you have to make a critical decision when you are going out. Do you party all night long or leave at 11:00pm?
I chose to party all night long twice while I was in Japan. Both times I was afraid that by 3am I would be regretting my decision and begging to pay a cab $100 to take me home to my nice warm bed. That didn’t happen though. The energy is so high, the clubs so crowded, and the drinks so delicious that before you know it you will have time traveled to morning.
Pulling an all-nighter is a rite of passage when it comes to nightlife in Tokyo so if you are planning a visit – plan to stay out all night at least once. It’s worth the experience.
2. People speak English
If you don’t speak Japanese, don’t worry. Almost everyone speaks at least some English. Most people are probably fluent.
If you need directions, want to start a conversation, or are just feeling chatting don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Just be polite.
Roppongi is known as the clubbing district around Tokyo. If you are planning to pull that all-nighter this is a great place to do it. Choosing a place to go isn’t hard either, just look for the crowd and go.
4. English Friendly Bars
If you are feeling a little skittish about going to a random bar there are several “English Friendly” pub style bars floating around. The most popular of those bars is probably the HUB.
The HUB is modeled after a British drinking pub. You will find a lot of English speakers from around the world as well as a decent drink selection and bar tenders that are completely fluent in English.
I dropped by and was delighted to find the range of countries represented. There were people from all around Europe and the US hanging out – which was awesome.
5. Avoid Nigerians
There isn’t much crime in Japan, but there are one group of people that like to pray on tourists. Nigerians. They are easy to spot as they will be the only black guys bugging you on the streets of Tokyo. If they try to talk to you just say “no thanks” and walk away.
There are a lot of horror stories about these guys ripping tourists off and stealing from them. I assume these are probably the same Nigerians that spam your email.
6. Smut Culture
Japanese culture is very conservative, but smutty. You will find a wide variety of sex shops, “massage” parlors, and peep shows as you walk through the city. I did not personally partake in any of these activities, but overall most of these establishments, while creepy, seem completely safe. Use your judgement.
7. The Pregame
One thing I had no idea about in Tokyo is that you can drink on the streets. You can go right in a convenient store and grab and alcoholic beverage and enjoy while walking to the next bar.
Since Japan is so expensive we found that having a few drinks before arriving at the bars was a great way to keep our bank accounts happy. If you are wondering what to buy try a Chuahai.
A Chuahai is about 10% alcohol, but tastes a lot like carbonated lemonade. Beware – these things are a lot more powerful than they look/taste.