If you can’t get enough of Tokyo during the day, just wait until you’ve seen this city at night. Tokyo continues to be, and arguably is at its most vibrant and interesting after sundown.
Ranging from feasting to singing, from the relaxing to the thrilling, there’s simply no lack of activities to enjoy after dark. Here are a few activities to tick off your bucket list the next time you visit Tokyo:
Feast at an izakaya
Izakayas are a way of life for most Japanese people. These drink stalls serving casual meals often open in the evening, just in time for the after work crowd, with some only closing their doors at dawn.
Popular among the working-class Japanese and especially among salary-men, these little restaurant-bars are perfect for a casual get together among friends, or a drinking party with co-wokers to unwind after a long day at work. Ranging from tiny street side joints to multi-storied chain stalls, izakayas are livey places full of chatter and personality.
Let loose at a karaoke bar
Some attribute the popularity of karaoke bars in Japan to the high-stress levels employees face daily. There’s no better way to let loose than to lock yourself in a karaoke room for a few hours with a couple of drinks and a few good friends. This is no place to be shy, belt out your favourite tunes along to the lyrics on screen and live in the moment, at least for one night.
Besides being the ultimate stress reliever, karaoke is also a great place to have a laugh with friends and family. Some outlets even offer instruments and silly party costumes to have fun with as well. Drinks and snacks are often affordably priced and can be purchased as part of a package deal, or individually.
Unleash your inner child at an arcade
Tokyo is home to some of the best arcades in the world. This perhaps, comes as no surprise given Japan’s stellar track record in the video game and technology industries. These hangout spots might be commonly associated with teenagers and younger children, but make no mistake, plenty of grown ups gravitate towards these locations come nightfall as well.
Big gaming companies often have their own arcades as well. Multinational video game developer Sega has branches spread throughout the city with the largest located at the Shinjuku district.
Club Sega is one of the most popular arcades due to the large selection of games and machines both classic and new. Often, visitors even have the opportunity to play trial runs of unreleased games. Don’t be surprised if you spot a couple of serious gamers setting up camp in front of their favourite machine, kept awake by a steady stream of cup-noodles and caffeinated drinks.
Chase an adrenaline rush at an indoor amusement park
When it comes to night-time gaming thrills, Joypolis is another breed in itself. As an exciting amalgamation of arcade and amusement park, Joypolis goes above and beyond the usual arcade with indoor rides, simulators and other immersive and atmospheric attractions.
While you should not expect a Disneyland-like experience, these attractions combining the best of virtual reality with theme-park adrenaline will provide you with a night well spent.
Some of the most popular rides include the Halfpipe Tokyo, where pairs spin their way up and down a semi-circular rail, and the Gekion Live Coaster, an indoor coaster traversing the whole park. Visiting in the evening brings additional benefits of a cheaper entrance fee and shorter queues for rides.
Picnic under fireworks at a summer festival
Firework festivals are a longstanding part of Japanese tradition with hundreds of these festivals held throughout the country during the summer months.
The relaxed atmosphere of festival time makes this a popular bonding activity for family and friends to get together in their yukatas as they walk along stalls offering street food and festival games.
These firework shows can last up to two hours with short intermissions in-between. Many also choose to picnic under these fire blossoms as they relax and observe the unique play of light, energy and beauty illuminating the night sky.
Admire cherry blossoms against the night sky
If you thought cherry blossoms couldn’t look more wonderful in the day, just way until you’ve seen them at night. Major viewing sites are often lit up for the specific purpose of showing off these beautiful blossoms, and the illuminated shades of pink and purple petals against the stark black sky makes for a truly magical atmosphere unlike no other.
Swaying above, these petals seem to be floating in the dark. The cherry blossoms by Meguro River and Ueno Onshi Park are among the most popular locations for night viewing.
View a panorama of the city
Take in a bird’s-eye view of Tokyo twinkling with lights from numerous observation spots around the city. If its height you seek, go for the Tokyo Skytree—the tallest structure in Japan.
Alternatively, to keep costs down, opt for a site with lower admission fees like the Mori Museum’s observation deck or the free observation decks at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
To really take things above and beyond, fly over the sea of skyscrapers in a helicopter cruise for the best view money can buy of this charming city in all her nighttime glory.