Tokyo Guide: Roppongi
Tokyo Area Guide: Roppongi 六本木
Roppongi Intersection, with Tokyo Midtown in background
Roppongi is Tokyo's most famous nightlife district and is the place that Japanese and foreign celebrities go for fun and scandal.
Roppongi is mainly bars, restaurants and clubs, with a comparatively large foreign clientele that include a lot of US servicemen and women. Other nationals dominate the street (tout) scene.
The night time dazzle all happens around Roppongi Intersection, right near the two Roppongi subway stations (Hibiya line and Oedo line).
Roppongi has 69 of the 127 embassies in Japan as well as a lot of extremely expensive housing monopolized by people "in finance."
Roppongi has two major shopping and entertainment complexes, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown (see below).
Not far from Roppongi, east along the route of the Hibiya Line, brings you to the 333m high Tokyo Tower - one of the city's major landmarks. Tokyo Tower's observation deck affords spectacular views of sprawling Tokyo below.
Roppongi Hills is the Roppongi area's defining "miracle," that was a full 17 years in the making.
In the midst of what was a depressed real estate market - in which land prices were continuing their downward spiral some 15 years after the bursting of the bubble economy - Japan's leading developer Minoru Mori opened up his Roppongi Hills complex in the summer of 2003.
Read more about Roppongi Hills.
Tokyo Midtown, strictly speaking occupying the adjacent district of Akasaka, is the 2007 challenge to Roppongi Hills' dominance of the Roppongi area.
On Gaien-higashi-dori Boulevard, Tokyo Midtown is a six-building complex on ten hectares of land, dominated by the massive Tokyo Midtown Tower.
At 248m (814 feet) the complex's Midtown Tower is 10 meters higher than Roppongi Hills making it now Tokyo's tallest building, and the fourth tallest in Japan.
The Suntory Museum of Art is located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Tokyo Midtown building with a tea ceremony room on the 6th floor.
Outside the main buildings in the garden space adjacent to Hinokicho-koen is the innovative 21_21 Design Sight a joint effort from two titans of modern Japanese design: fashion designer Issey Miyake and architect Tadao Ando.
Read more about Tokyo Midtown.
Roppongi's latest cultural value added happened in January 2007 with the opening of the National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu Shinbijutsukan).
Designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa, the modernist glass structure is Japan's largest exhibition space with an emphasis on modern painting and sculpture both Japanese and international.
Read more about the National Art Center Tokyo.
Roppongi is home to hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafes and has had something of an international feel since the 1950s, with many foreigners opening businesses here to serve the local foreign community. Some recommended restaurants are the top-quality Italian restaurant Canoviano, the classic French Le Bourguignon near Roppongi Hills and the L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (two Michelin stars) also in Roppongi Hills. (Read about the three-star Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Tokyo's Ebisu district.)
Roppongi Hills, Roppongi, Tokyo
Roppongi has some excellent bars catering to all tastes and budgets. Hobgoblin is an authentic British pub owned by the Wychwood brewery in the UK. There are branches in Akasaka, Shibuya and Kobe. Fiesta (Tel: 03 5410 3008) is a popular "international karaoke club" with 1000s of songs in English. Fiesta is located in the Crest Roppongi Building, 3F.
Further down marketare the discount chain of bars run by Gas Panic - a Roppongi institution for foreigners and the people who like to meet them. Geronimo on Roppongi Crossing and its sister bar Mogambo attract a diverse and raucous crowd of expat bankers, language teachers and hostesses. Castillo is a 70s and 80s theme bar with an international partying clientele. Tokyo Sports Cafe is popular with sports fans for its big screens and beer mix and a good place to come to catch Premier League soccer or the Super Bowl.
Roppongi is also well-known for its hostess bars and love hotels.
Read more here about Roppongi bars, drinking and nightlife.