Japanese nightlife vocabulary

When people go to foreign countries, they often fill their days to bursting with activities to do and places to visit. But when 昼 (Hiru – Day) turns to 夜 (Yoru – night), what do they do? Stay shut up in their hotel room watching local TV channels in a language that they don’t understand? Absolutely not. 夜 is the time to hit the streets and enjoy the nightlife that’s on offer.

Japan is no different. Whether you want to dine in at a traditional backstreet 居酒屋 (Izakaya – Japanese bar), or head to 渋谷 (Shibuya) to party at the most popular ナイトクラブ (Naitokurabu – Nightclub), there’s something for everyone. So, sit back and relax as I take you through some of the many options that 東京 (Tokyo) nightlife has to offer.

A bite to eat with something more

If you’ve already read our article about Japanese cuisine then you may already know a bit about some of the flavors on offer in the Japanese capital. However, we’re not just talking about good Japanese food here. Here we’re going to talk about where to go for an experience that will stay with you longer than the food on your plate.

Our first entry is as well known as it is unique. The ‘Robot Restaurant’ is a show located underground in Kabukicho in 新宿 (Shinjuku). It’s hard to describe the show in words, but put simply, it is a fusion of mechanical engineering, bright lights and very talented dancers and performers. I’m not really sure why they call it a レストラン (Resutoran – Restaurant) given that buying food and drink is optional, but simple dishes are available to buy during the intermissions. Tickets go for 8000 yen each, and are well worth the price.

My next recommendation would be to visit a themed レストラン. The themes available vary wildly, from 忍者 (Ninjas) to monsters, and even based around popular video games. These レストラン go the extra mile to provide a great experience, with themed dishes, costumes for staff and brilliantly decorated interiors. If you can find a レストラン that is themed around a subject you’re interested in, then you’ll have an unforgettable experience.

Of course, there are great experiences to be had in more traditional dining experiences too. There are many レストラン that take advantage of the multitude of skyscrapers located in 東京, and they all have the incredible views you would expect. Or if you fancy something more down to earth, why not head to 回転寿司 (Kaiten zushi – Conveyor belt sushi)? It’s a great combination of good food and good fun.

What about the パーティーピープル?

Japan has a name for those that frequent nightclubs and love to party: パーティーピープル (Paatii piipuru – Party people). And let me tell you, 東京 is the home of パーティーピープル in Japan. Let’s breakdown some of the different places to head to party, and what’s what when it comes to ナイトクラブ in Japan.

First of all, let me tell you that 渋谷 is the heart of the scene. It has it all. One of the most popular options, ‘WOMB’ is a large, modern club which is known for the number of top DJ’s that it attracts. If you’re looking to see big names perform, then ‘WOMB’ is the place to be. Of course, 渋谷 has more traditional clubs too, such as ‘ATOM TOKYO’.

If 渋谷 is the home of パーティーピープル, then 六本木 (Roppongi) is a close second. 六本木 is famous for being very foreigner friendly, with many of the expats living in 東京 preferring to head there to party. There’s a lot of places to try here, but a choice that’s always popular with外人 (Gaijin – Foreigners) is V2 Tokyo. With multilingual staff, it’s a great stop for those who want to have a good time and not have to worry about their Japanese.

Some Japanese specialties

If you’ve travelled halfway around the world to visit Japan, then you may be itching to do something a little different, a little more ‘Japanese-y’. In that case, read on because here we’re going to discuss some more unique ways to enjoy yourself after dark in Japan.

First up is カラオケ (Karaoke). Now I know what you’re thinking, you can do カラオケ in your country too, what’s so special about that? Well let me tell you that no one does カラオケ like Japan, no one. Want to go a カラオケ bar that has instruments for you to play? Want to dress up in costumes available on site? Want to go to a one-person カラオケ booth where you can practice singing? Also, worth mentioning is the ‘飲み放題’ (Nomihoudai – All you can drink) option at a lot of カラオケ joints is incredibly cheap. At as little as 500 yen, you’d be crazy not to enjoy it. 東京 has mastered the art of カラオケ, so it’s worth a trip to see what’s different.

Another entertainment business that’s a little different in Japan is the ゲームセンター (Geemu sentaa – Game center). These come in a few varieties. There are the standard ‘arcade’ style ゲームセンター that have a host of machines, from crane machines to music games. These are often 3 or 4 stories tall and packed with unique games and prizes. Definitely worth a trip.

If you fancy something a little more retro, there are ゲームセンター that have a focus on older games and machines too. A famous one is ‘スーパーポテト’ (Suupaa poteto – Super potato). Located in 秋葉原 (Akihabara), this store sells retro manga and games, and also has a full retro arcade available on the top floor that anyone is able to try. A great way to pass the evening to be sure.

Ready to become パーティーピープル?

Now you know a little more about what there is to do in 東京 after dark. What would you want to do first? My personal favorite was to hit the ゲームセンター before enjoying some late night カラオケ with friends. Be sure to check these places out when you get the chance!

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