Guide Get a taste of Tokyo subculture by night

Get a taste of Tokyo subculture by night

When in Tokyo, Akihabara, karaoke, ramen noodles and Golden Gai are an absolute must. Even if you're on a tight schedule, you can pack it all into a single evening.

Tips

  • Karaoke venues often have tamborines, maracas and sometimes even costumes for customer to use—feel free to take advantage of such services
  • Ramen restaurants generally stay open late, but some of the most popular only serve a fixed number of bowls, closing early when they sell out
  • "Table charges" are common at most bars in Golden Gai—check with staff on entering

Delve into the world of otaku culture

Dear Stage in Akihabara, a melting pot of anime, manga and all things non-mainstream. The staff are all aspiring Japanese pop idols. They wear cute outfits, serve, perform, and sing and dance each night, in the hopes of being scouted. It is a truly fascinating glimpse into the world of Akihabara's geeky otaku culture.

Michelin-acclaimed ramen

There are endless ramen options in Tokyo, but Aoba in Nakano is an excellent choice—mentioned in the 2015 Michelin Guide Tokyo. Like many Japanese eateries, the bulk of the floor area is taken up by the kitchen meaning you get front-row counter-seating with a view of the action. It is fun to watch the chefs prepare the mouthwatering ramen with amazing speed and machine-like precision.

Karaoke with a difference

A short walk from Aoba, Anison Karaoke Bar Z is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill karaoke space—it's a colorful, energetic bar for fans of anime and anime songs. While you or one of the other customers sing, the costumed waitresses play tamborines, clap, and dance. It's a fun place to experience karaoke in an up-beat environment with a touch of geek flair.

Bar hopping old-school Tokyo style

On the edge of Shinjuku's bright-light entertainment district, is a block of tiny bars and restaurants offering a glimpse of what Tokyo used to look like several decades ago. Explore the narrow streets flitting from bar to bar, and don't worry about arriving early—many of the venues stay open until the very early hours of the morning.

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