Style Nightlife And Shopping Guide.
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can be accessed by the Hibya Line subway to Roppongi station, or by bus
from Shibuya or Shinjuku. The last subway train leaves
just after midnight from Roppongi and the buses stop running before that.
Getting a taxi after midnight can be something of a nightmare if you are
cold and tired. There
is a taxi stand near to Roppongi crossing, waiting times can vary from one
hour to over two hours on a Friday or Saturday night. I have always found
it to be easier and
warmer to walk in the direction of Aoyama and pick up a taxi along the
way. My wife, though, doesn't like walking too much, but there is little
choice in the winter, early morning
in the summer, it can be quite pleasant.
has changed since I first visited the area, over ten years ago. To my mind
it has become a little more impersonal and
cold. Maybe the reason I feel this is because,
ten years ago there were fewer foreigners and more "Roppongi
girls", also I have got a little older!
bars were smaller, noisier and dirtier ten or so years ago. They did have
a unique atmosphere of excitement and friendliness, a kind of back street
dive sense of place in
the scheme of things in Tokyo, where it was considered brave and/or hip
for a Japanese girl to venture there by her friends. Sometimes a girl
would come up
to me and buy me a drink, what luxury !
of my favorite bars, and also my wife's is Gas Panic. It started out as as
one of the small dirty bars, mentioned above, now it has "come
clean" and expanded into
a multi bar complex. The music is still good and up to date, but it lacks
charm. It is a good place to visit if you are new in Tokyo however.
downside of Roppongi is at the end of the month, when the US military are
paid and they descend on Roppongi to cause havoc. The majority of the
servicemen are very
friendly and not looking for trouble. The few that do cause problems,
reflect badly on all the rest. I have seen fights breaking out in the
street or sometimes in
a bar, it is always wise to exit the scene quickly, or you may become
embroiled in the fight and the local constabulary may well arrest you.
There is always a fair sized
contingent of Japanese police lurking in the back streets on a Friday or
Saturday night, so beware !
are many restaurants, bars, clubs and disco's in and around Roppongi. you
will almost certainly find something to your
taste and enjoyment.
Roma's and the Hard Rock Cafe are located about 5 minutes from Roppongi
Station. Tony Roma's Takes up the First floor ( ground floor)
and the Hard Rock Cafe is located
above it. On a Friday or Saturday night you may have to wait an hour or so
for a table and the bar in the Hard Rock gets full
tend to come and go quite frequently, it is really best to explore the
area, not the main streets, but the side streets. They host a large
variety of bars, cocktail bars
and other attractions. There is even a love hotel, who advertise their
rates by the hour, outside the entrance to the building. the side streets
are pretty safe at any hour,
but I would not recommend a girl
on her own to walk around later in the evening.
may want to try the Irish bar, which is located along the main strip,
towards Tokyo Tower on the right hand side. It is situated below a small
shop complex, it is easy
to miss if you do not look carefully. the bar gets jammed around 9 or
10:00pm, you will probably have to stand. The crowd is mixed, Americans,
English, Japanese and
of course, Irish, etc. They serve guiness on tap as well as a few other
beers. The bar staff are fairly friendly and handle their jobs with speed.
long you stay in Japan, Roppongi is a home away from home, even though it
is an expensive area to enjoy yourself in. For the Japanese men who
bravely go there, it
is a little taste of a foreign culture and a chance to talk to some gaijin
women. they usually find that all the bad press on Roppongi is generally
untrue and they will
return again and again. For the "Roppongi girls", it is a chance
to let their hair down and have a brief taste of freedom. They can escape
the restrictions of Japanese
society, and also learn English for free.
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is one of the shopping and entertainment Mecca's of Tokyo. It is always very
crowded on a Sunday, the shops are open all day. There are a selection
department stores to choose
department store is one of the nicer stores, in my opinion, although it is a
little more expensive than some others. There are a selection of restaurants
on the top
floor. French, Chinese, Italian,
Japanese, Indian and so on. There is a cheaper restaurant that is good for
families, all the restaurants are busy around lunch time you
may have to wait
for a short time for a table. The elevator girls are all pretty and act like
robots, I don't think they can speak English, so don't bother asking them
for help. There is an
information desk on the first floor (ground floor), someone will be able to
speak English there.
department store is one of the most expensive Japanese stores, along the
lines of Harrods in London. they do have a nice tea room, but again it is
department stores are common throughout Japan, the quality is quite high,
but at more reasonable prices. The Marui stores in Shinjuku are split up
between Men's, Ladies,
Young people, Sports and furnishing. So if you want to look at many
different things then you will have to walk a little way to the next
building. Virgin Records
is also in the basement of one of the stores. It is a large branch with
their own DJ.
Square, in western Shinjuku is one of the largest in Japan. It is truly
enormous, opened a few years ago, it also houses Kinokuniya Bookstore. You
can find a
large selection of
books in English, fiction or non fiction. Be careful not to get lost in
there, as I did when I first visited the complex.
store is famous because of the large TV screen, on the outside of the
building. It is also a meeting place for people, so the front of the shop is
basement level of Shinjuku station also has a wide variety of shops and also
an underground walkway, where you can access most of the stores along San
Chome, without ever having to go outside.
Very useful on a rainy day, or when the streets are too congested with
from department stores there are a large selection of shops, from electrical
appliance stores to a Chanel boutique.
are a large number of bars and restaurants to choose from. Kirin and Sapporo
breweries have their own beer halls, offering beer on tap and a selection of
other drinks. They also offer a wide
range of food to accompany your drink. These are very popular places in the
evening, so you may well have to wait for a time. My
Favorite restaurants include:
Torito, a popular Los Angeles chain restaurant. Take the South exit from
Shinjuku station. This is a newly opened branch. As always good food but a
little expensive but
children are admitted even for dinner. Around 15.000 Yen for two people,
Tiki, Hawaiian style, complete with hula dancers in the evening. Nice decor
too. The food is o.k., the tropical cocktails I am told are very nice, again
a little expensive,
but I have always had a good time there. The hula dancers usually try to get
people to join them, a foreigner is a prime target, so if you don't want to
dance just wave them
away. Around 18,000 Yen for two people with drinks.
the Isetan restaurant complex there is a very nice but expensive Spanish restaurant.
Nice decor, dimmed lights and candles on the tables make this a romantic setting
for dinner. The food is good and there is a small selection of wines and
other drinks. Flamenco dancers perform in the evening. I sat with my wife
just next to the stage
and had my eardrums rattled. If you try this restaurant be sure to sit well
away from the stage. Around 24,000 for two people with a few drinks.
is one of the seedier parts of Tokyo. Very similar to Soho in London, before
it was cleaned up. There are many female hawkers in the streets to try and
persuade you to
go to their bar. I would not advise trying such a place. They are of course
hostess bars and very expensive. I have heard quite a few different stories
about them. One such
young Japanese men went to Kabukicho one evening and they were persuaded to
enter a hostess bar. They sat with two very pretty girls. They had a total
of eight drinks (two
each). They stayed for two hours, and were charged 30,000 Yen for the drinks
and chat with the hostesses. They started to complain to the cashier but
were soon confronted with a large bouncer who asked them if they had a
problem. They quickly said no problem and paid up. There are many kinky type hostess bars
such as lingerie, topless and nickerless. But you will be ripped off.
is a little dangerous at night, many of the establishments are run by the
Yakuza (gangsters), they have on occasion fought in the streets, foreigners
are generally not
welcome in this area.
your safety it is best to stick to East and West Shinjuku, there is such a
variety of interesting bars and restaurants that you will find something
that you like.
on the map to see the full size version.
is a more fashionable area, composing of shops, department stores and an
entertainment area. The
main department stores are:
Marui, as the name suggests is for young people. The fashion is up to date
and at a reasonable price. The main Marui store
is the standard department store set up.
department store is made up of two buildings, split up by a road and the
buildings are connected by an enclosed walkway
spanning the road below. A little more expensive than Marui, but has a
wide selection of products.
Hands is an interesting store, it has many "do-it-yourself"
products and is very popular with young people. If you like
jigsaw puzzles, they have a wide selection. The wax food department is
another fascinating place to browse. If you look
outside a restaurant window, you will generally see the food that is
served represented by these wax copies. They are not
cheap though, but very life like. An interesting souvenir to take back to
your home country, I think. If you are setting
up a home in Tokyo then there furniture is at a reasonable price, as well
as their other interior products, with quite
a wide choice.
109 is a young peoples store, with up to the minute fashion and
accessories. This was the place to buy, for example, the
latest in Techno gear, hand fans, boas, T-backs and so on, during this
particular disco period. An interesting store to look
around even if you do not want to buy anything.
is another interesting store, split into three parts, again this store is
little expensive, but has all the latest fashion.
(Tokyo Electric Power Company) museum is worth a visit, the companion
girls (guides) can speak a little English. The exhibits are on the history
of electricity in
Japan and they also have models of a nuclear reactor and nuclear power
generation. There is also an interactive floor, good fun for kids !
Sega complex has a games floor and a few coffee shops on the first floor
(ground floor). On the second floor there is a selection
of food counters, a large variety of food is served here and it is fairly
cheap. The big drawback is that you must
wait at the counter for your food and drink. Tables are not easy to find
as this is a very popular spot to eat. The tables
are also miniscule and you must clear your plates up after you have
life in Shibuya is pretty good if you don't mind spending a little money.
It is generally an area for young people, high
school girls abound here, some of them are maybe selling their services.
This has been an infamous area for middle aged
salary men to find a very young girl to "date" (Enjokosai). The
law has changed a little to ban this practice but it still
continues as usual.
are many disco's around Shibuya, foreign style pubs, Isakaya's (Japanese
style pubs), bars, cocktail bars, restaurants and
so on. There are too many to describe here, it is of course best to walk
around Shibuya and select a likely looking establishment.
Average prices for cocktails in many of the establishments start at around
1,000 Yen (around 8 US dollars),
beer averages for a small bottle at 700 Yen.
Street, as the name implies, is designed on a Spanish street, the
architecture and coloring gives this street a rather
special atmosphere. There are bars and restaurants dotted along this
street, but a little expensive.
are also several large game centers, and movie theaters to choose from.
Dogen Cho district of Shibuya is famous (or infamous) for its large
variety of love hotels. You can see many young couples
walking along this area after 10:00pm on a Friday or Saturday evening. I
am told that the room charges start at around
10,000 Yen, from 10:00pm and check out by 10:00am. They are usually full
before midnight, which I guess is surprising
considering the large number of hotels in the area. Rooms with basic
facilities, bathroom and bedroom (10,000 Yen),
to luxury rooms with vibrating bed, surround stereo, large TV screen and
even a video camera, to make your own porno video,
are offered. These rooms are very expensive. All the love hotel rooms have
a mini bar and you can usually order food.
you select the room by looking at a display board which contains a photo
of the room, a list of facilities in the room,
and the room charge. If they are not lit up then they have been taken by
another couple. Once you have found a suitable
room you should press a button on the display board for that room and pay
the clerk. the clerk cannot see your face
because the window is quite low down. They also have a unique security
system. If you exit your room, the front desk clerk
is alerted. This is to try to prevent rapists or murderers using the
establishments to commit their crimes.
is an interesting area day or night, but if you are trying to find a
Japanese female date in the evening, in this area,
be sure she is not underage !
on the map to see the full size version.
Harajuku is an area for mainly young people Takeshita Dori is comparable to London's
Carnaby Street. The length of the street on both sides, is
taken up with jeans shops, young fashion stores, the occasional coffee
shop, fast food and a kinky clothing shop (sadomasochistic),
which is especially fun to look at. Their leather and rubber suits are
especially amazing, how do people get in to them, or wear them!!??
street is packed at the weekends and public holidays, mainly with young
people, promenading in their latest fashion and
hair color. Many foreigners visit this street, I think, to gawk at the
pretty young things walking along the street.
is not a high fashion area, but it is interesting to see the very latest
in young fashion in Japan. I believe that I
mentioned in another section that the Japanese are better dressed than the
average Westerner. I think it is also true of
the young in Japan. Even the "punks" look clean and fairly tidy,
not like the zombies who haunt the streets of many European
and American city streets. One reason must be, the limited drug use still
prevalent in Japan.
the bottom of Takeshita Dori (the other end from Harajuku Station), on the
left you will find a rather nice coffee shop, designed
like a Parisan bistro. you can sit at a table outside. In the summer
though it is best to sit inside, as the heat, high
humidity and dust will surely get to you.
you turn right, then there are many kinds of shops. Towards the next
intersection you will come to Laforet store, which has
a certain amount of fame in Japan. A popular fashion store, the basement
has an HMV store. Also, there are many individual
boutiques, ranging from the mundane to the insane. Check out the
"Shirley Temple" look boutique. the other floors,
have various kinds of young women's fashion.
landmark is the Condomania shop, on the corner and across the
intersection. This shop always seems to have many visitors,
a good percentage of which are young girls. They sell many types of
novelty condoms, glow in the dark, different flavors,
condoms to wear on your head ?? and so on. They do, of course, sell
condoms that can be used as a condom as well.
the intersection you can return to Harajuku Station or walk up to Aoyama,
or in the other direction head for Shibuya.
way you decide to go, you can enjoy the sights and the shops.
interesting place to visit is the famous Meiji Shrine. This shrine is
literally swamped with people during the New Year
celebrations ( January 1st - 4th). At other times the shrine is peaceful,
you may catch a glimpse of a ceremony taking place,
if you are lucky. The grounds are quite extensive and makes for a very
nice walk, eventually leading to Shinjuku.
to the shrine is Yoyogi Park, a nice green space to take a rest after
plodding around the shops. This park also gained a
rather unsavory reputation, because of the large number of Iranians who
used to gather there at the weekend. The police believed
that they were selling "doctored" telephone cards and possibly
drugs. When I was out walking with my family one Sunday
afternoon, about four years ago, we found ourselves among around 2 or 3
hundred riot police. I guess the police were fed
up with the Iranians and decided to arrest them all. So, as the Iranians
escaped from the park, being pursued by other policemen,
the riot police, who we had run into, stood ready to nab them, which they
did, with very little violence on either
side, I might add. I did feel sorry for the Iranians though. I don't
believe that the two or three hundred Iranians arrested
that day, were all selling black market produce or drugs.
there are not many Iranian citizens to be found, the new target for
Japanese peoples anxiety, appears to be Brazilians.
Maybe after the Brazilians have been repatriated, it will be the Americans
(military?) or the English (free ticket
must stress that the above incident is rare, shopping in and around Tokyo
is still relatively safe. Only, you should take precautions
when in a very crowded place, such as on a train, where gangs of
pickpockets operate. The Japanese media has blamed
gangs of Chinese for these crimes, but I do have my suspicions that there
may also be Japanese (unemployed?) committing
the crimes too.
from Harajuku via the NHK studios is pleasant if you have an hour or so to
spend. On Sunday it is especially interesting,
as you can see a variety of people out shopping or just out for a stroll.
the other direction, walking to Aoyama is equally interesting, you will be
able to find one or two antique shops, selling
a range of oriental antiques. In Aoyama itself you will be able to find
Kinokuniya Supermarket. This supermarket stocks
a wide range of foreign food products. It is on two floors, with an
elevator and elevator girl. Beware, it is very expensive.
It is easy to spend 20 or 30,000 Yen, for only a hand basket full of
things. Their bakery department is very good
and also very popular, they usually sell out by the afternoon.
Aoyama crossing their is an El Torito restaurant. It is usually very busy
on Friday and Saturday night, waiting time for
a table can be very long.
life in Harajuku to my mind is not very exciting, there are various bars
and restaurants. At least one of the bars seem
to cater for poseurs, both foreign and the home grown variety. If you are
not in the mood to pose then a different area
of Tokyo would be a better bet, to relax in the evening.
relevant facts below:
Citizen Watch Company.
people were polled. 215 women and 111 men.
of men were conscious of brand names.
of men said, men with pierced ears repulsed them.
of women said the same.
Health and Welfare Ministry
Average alcohol consumption a year per person: 6.6L
abuse, including efficiency, medical fees, accidents absenteeism cost:
6 trillion Yen +
People hospitalized due to alcohol related illnesses; 17% of all
Source: Five Main Breweries in Japan
Beer shipments from January - June 1998: 231,724,000 cases, down 7.2% from last
One case = 20 x 633 ml
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
annual sales of \21.49 trillion in 1997. A new record !
Department store sales in Tokyo
Source: Japan Department Store Association
September 1998: 5.4 % down from a year before
October 1998: 6.7 % down from
the same time last year
The sixth consecutive month of
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
number of movie goers in 1997 was 95.84 million. Up 4.3% from