Tokyo Guide: Roppongi Bars & Drinking
Roppongi Bars and Drinking 六本木のバー
Roppongi is Tokyo's most famous - some would say infamous - spot to go drinking and clubbing in after dark. Roppongi is Tokyo's nighttime neon hive of all that's fun and sexy. Fame can disappoint expectations and infamy can inspire timidity, so Roppongi as a nightlife area should be approached as you should approach any nightlife area anywhere in the world: with the intention of having fun, and keeping your wits about you.
Roppongi is not an upscale area of Tokyo, in spite of the added glamor that has been brought to the area by Roppongi Hills and the nearby Tokyo Midtown tower. Therefore, dancing and drinking at clubs and bars in Roppongi does not require a minimum standard of dress or, others would say, a minimum of anything other than a sexy get up, a bit of money in your pocket and a strong inclination to party.
Roppongi is chockablock with restaurants, coffee shops, diners, Irish- and English-style pubs, American-style bars, dance clubs, cocktail lounges, live music pubs, strip clubs, and everything in between. Most of the nightlife establishments are along Gaien-Higashi-dori, the street that runs crosswise to Roppongi-dori, with Tokyo Tower visible down the eastern end. (Roppongi-dori is the street dominated by the overhead highway.)
The following is a selection in alphabetical order of recommended bars and clubs from out of the hundreds of bars and nightspots in Roppongijust to get you started. But by wandering the area you will quickly find the places with the kind of buzz you're after, (if you haven't been lured or pressed to go there first!) from real ale and sweet cherry pie romancing to sexy high heel silky thigh pole dancing. As with many places of entertainment in Japan, credit cards are not generally accepted in Roppongi bars and clubs.
Abbey Road is a Beatles tribute live music bar just a minute's walk from Roppongi intersection featuring regular, highly professional performances by remarkably authentic sounding Japanese Beatles copy bands. Make a hard day's night of it in Roppongi as you sing or at least drink along to your old Fab Four favorites from She Loves You to Sexy Sadie to Let it Be.
Abbey Road seats about 100, and serves food and drinks. Nights the bands are playing requires an entrance fee of about 2,000 yen, depending on which of the three bands is playing. Abbey Road is smoke-free. (Video and photo taking strictly prohibited. 15% service charge.)
Booking ahead (telephone only) is recommended for Abbey Road. Call after 5pm. Reservations accepted only for those who will turn up by 7.30pm.
Abbey Road Hours: 6pm-11:30pm Monday-Thursday & public holidays; 6pm-midnight Friday, Saturday & the day before a public holiday.
GasPanic has a well-earned reputation for Roppongi's most hardcore drinking and clubbing, where almost anything goes. An explicit policy of GasPanic is that patrons must have a drink on hand at all times - although it is a policy that requires little enforcing.
There are three GasPanic locations in Roppongi. Boys, put your baseball cap on backwards, girls, keep it skimpy, and get on down (or up on the bar!)
-GP Bar is the newest GasPanic location, in its second floor space on Gaien-Mae-dori, and has a DJ booth with parquet floor for those who want to get down to it, and a lounge area for those who want to chill.
GP Bar hours: 6pm-5am. Happy hour (all drinks 300 yen) 6pm-10pm every day.
-Club 99 GasPanic and the GasPanic Bar make up the three-story GasPanic building, down a side street off Roppongi Go-Chome intersection and covered in GasPanic neon. This is where GasPanic began and where GasPanic still pumps, sweats, and grinds.
-GasPanic Cafe is a small cafe on the 1st (ground) floor of the GasPanic building.
-Club 99 GasPanic is a nightclub for dancing and drinking on the B1 and 1st floors of the GasPanic building.
-GasPanic Bar is a bar for drinking on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the GasPanic building.
Club 99 GasPanic and GasPanic Bar have a similar streety, blingy, full-on atmosphere, and both require having a drink on hand at all times.
Club 99 GasPanic hours: 9pm-9am Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and the day before a public holiday. Closed Sunday-Wednesday. Happy hour (all drinks 300 yen) 6pm10pm.
GasPanic Bar hours: 6pm-5am Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and the day before a public holiday. Closed Sunday-Wednesday. Happy hour (all drinks 300 yen) 6pm10pm.
Geronimo Shot Bar is a popular native-American-themed shot bar right on the main Roppongi crossing. The "Apache" theme that pervades the bar is in keeping with its image as a student-type goodtimes bar with its regular theme parties, "truly legendary partying," and its house rituals which include a "Chief of the Month" board showing who "banged the drum" the most and obliged themselves to buy everyone a shot. Geronimo has an extensive drinks menu, including six different types of local and imported beer, "light," "medium," and "hard" shots with shot names to match, cocktails, wine and champagne.
Geronimo also has a basic food menu of sandwiches, fish and chips and the like. Most of the Geronimo staff are non-Japanese, so English shouldn't be a problem. Geronimo is the sister bar of Mogambo.
Geronimo hours: 6pm-6am (Monday - Friday); 7pm-6am (Saturday & Sunday). Happy Hour 6pm-9pm every day (7pm-9pm on weekends)all drinks half price.
Heartland serves its own, green-bottled Heartland microbrew beer on the ground floor of Roppongi Hills complex. Heartland beer is from Kirin breweries, made from 100% wheat for a truly "foreign" taste, i.e. without any of the rice content that gives normal Japanese beer its characteristic softness. Heartland actually already existed on this very spot before its current, less-soulful reincarnation as the ground floor of Roppongi Hills.
Heartland is a very easily accessible, clean space with big screens and high-tech decor, a DJ spinning party tunes, and a long, curving bar. Heartland attracts a lot of ex-pats (mainly men) and Japanese (mainly women), and tends to be popular earlier in the evening than later. A casual bar (in spite of being often described as "upmarket"), Heartland is a good start to any evening in Roppongi in an attractive, easy-come-easy-go atmosphere. Outside drinking in the warmer months. Certain bar staff speak some English.
Heartland hours: 5pm - 4am (last orders 3.30am) every day.
Hobgoblin Roppongi is a spacious British pub, claiming to the biggest pub in Tokyo. Hobgoblin is owned by the Wychwood brewery of the UK and admirably replicates the spacious, classic, polished wood, English pub experience also found in all Japan's Hobgoblins (in nearby Akasaka, in Shibuya, and in Kobe). Hardwood furnishingsincluding a big, stuffed, super comfy leather sofa, giant screens playing live sports events, a free darts area, and a large 60-seat restaurant area all make for the kind of easy, open sense of Hobgoblin British hospitality not often found in what is usually the more frenetic, party-hard atmosphere of Roppongi.
Having its own restaurant, Hobgoblin's menu is also more extensive than usually found in Roppongi watering holes, and, in keeping with the decor, the food at Hobgoblin is generally classic British fare, including roast beef and potatoes, mint-sauce lamb, and Yorkshire pudding. Tuck in!
Hobgoblin Roppongi hours: 5pm - late Monday-Friday; noon - late Saturday, Sunday & public holidays.
Hub is the Roppongi presence of an extensive nationwide chain of British-style Hub pubs, and has two branches in Roppongi. The main Hubof Hope and Gloryis on Roppongi-dori (the street with the overhead highway). Hub is a true matron of Roppongi, having been serving drinkers in Roppongi since 1980 with pints, pints, and more pints.
The Hub Roppongi bars are genuinely buxomly British in their spacious layout and appearance. Hub has an extensive British-style drink menu featuring the proprietary, award-winning British-style Hub Ale, as well as a wide selection of beers, spirits, and some wines, from the UK and around the world. The Hub food menu includes such Anglo-style stalwarts as fish and chips, sausages and toasted sandwiches to please the hungry British palate, as well as more "exotic" fare like pizza and salad. Hub is a smoke-free space.
Hub has numerous TV screens showing big sports games whenever they are happening.
The two Roppongi Hubs have different opening hours. Hub 2 on Gaien Higashi-dori is closer to Roppongi party central, and is therefore open until much later than Hub 1.
Roppongi Hub 1
Roppongi Hub 2
Bar Milwaukee is a spacious Roppongi bar with a strong Midwestern theme, brick walls, featuring American memorabilia and a grungy, colorful but dimly lit atmosphere. Milwaukee has a billiards table, game machines, darts, table football, numerous video screens, plenty of neon, and a DJ booth. Bar Milwaukee serves numerous beers, foreign and Japanese, and has an extensive cocktail menu. Milwaukee also has a snack food menu.
Drink up and party hard Bar Milwaukee is also the venue for numerous fun, full on parties, and usually features trance. Break on through! Milwaukee is a Roppongi presence with longevity, having been serving customers for almost two decades.
Bar Milwaukee's Friday & Saturday opening hours until 1pm the next day convey what Bar Milwaukee is all about. (It's a 300 meter (330 yard) crawl from Bar Milwaukee to Roppongi subway station!)
Bar Milwaukee hours: 6:30pm-midnight (Monday - Thursday); 6:30pm-1pm (i.e., the next day) (Friday & Saturday). Closed Sundays.
Jungle-themed, wooden decor Mogambo, packed with tables, standing around the bar, is a long-standing presence among Roppongi bars, having been around for over twenty years. The Mogambo crowd is largely ex-pat and the atmosphere is, of course, on the wild side (but just how jungle steamy does it get?). Mogambo has its own "bell-ringing" tradition involving ringing the brass bell above the bar, obliging the ringer to shout the whole bar a round of shots!
Mogambo's oval bar stocks a huge variety of drinks, and is one of Roppongi's cocktail and shot specialists, including on its drink menu an ever-changing Shot of the Week. Mogambo is the sister bar of Geronimo.
Mogambo Hours: 6pm - 6am Monday - Friday; 7pm - 6am Saturday; closed Sunday
What we tell you is true. Shot Bar Propaganda, or "the Prop" to its many regulars, is cluttered, youthful, grungy and on the raucous side, with very much a student pub atmosphere. Propaganda's second-floor drinking space is dominated by the bar, with numerous tables seating four, and a capacity of well over 100 people. Propaganda has a very well stocked bar, and a daily happy hour (500 yen/drink) until 9pm every night. The atmosphere at Propaganda is friendly, and Tatsu-san, the manager, and the Japanese staff speak English. The Propaganda crowd is a good mix of Japanese and foreign, and at Propaganda there is room to move your body, room to chill, and always room to hook up.
Propaganda is bar-like on week nights and club-like on Fridays and weekends with DJs spinning a wide range of genres. Friendly, down-to-earth, sociable Propaganda has an "80s Fever" night every Thursday.
Shot Bar Propaganda hours: 6pm-5am Monday-Friday; 7pm-5am Saturday-Sunday
"Your search is over" is how Bar Quest, "Tokyo's Premier Australian Bar," styles itself. Strewth! Being Australian in theme, Bar Quest brings Australian drinking to Tokyo with its Aussie beers, Aussie pub music, and even Aussie pub fare like meat pies. Japanese beers and beers from Europe and the United States are also available.
Australia? Raunchy and sexy, bordering on sexist, so of course the shot menu includes concoctions like "Dirty Toilet," "Porn Star," "Red Headed Slut," and "Blowjob." Champagne is also available. The staff at Bar Quest all speak English (the Japanese staff anywaygood luck with the Ozzie staff!) Bar Quest also has a "VIP room" behind the dance floor for those who want something a little classier than the student-pub feel of the main bar space.
Bar Quest has a nightly DJ, several big screens which show sporting events, especially Antipodean ones, when they are happening, darts, and even a blackjack table. Bar Quest has a happy hour every day until 10pm, and free Australian wine for the sheilas on Thursdays. Glug, glug!
Bar Quest hours: 6pm-6am every day. Happy hour (all drinks 500 yen for men, free for women) 6pm-10pm.
Tokyo Sports Cafe is a chic, spacious lounge bar at the upper end of the scale of Roppongi drinking, but which maintains a fun, sophisticated party vibe. Tokyo Sports Cafe features bilingual, smartly attired staff, subtle lighting, some sofa-style seating, huge screens regularly displaying major current football matches, and digital, touch-screen tables for ordering from.
Sports being the original focus of Tokyo Sports Cafe, the Cafe remains true to its motto of "If It's On, We're Showing It" - whatever the sport. (See the sports schedule on the Tokyo Sports Cafe website.) Tokyo Sports Cafe has a free pool table and electronic darts. Tokyo Sports Cafe is a popular choice for private parties, too, catering up to 120 people at a time. Tokyo Sports Cafe has an extensive snack food and, especially, drink menu, including draft Kilkenny beer and others, high quality wines and champagnes. Located on the second floor of the stylish Fusion Building in Roppongi.
Tokyo Sports Cafe Roppongi hours: 6pm - 5am Monday-Saturday.
Wall Street House is Roppongi's "international, New York-style bar," just a minute's walk from the big Roppongi intersection. Wall Street House has been a Roppongi presence for almost two decades, and aspires to a touch of class with its chandelier and its gold-wallpapered, upholstered decor and big-framed paintings on the wall. But aspirations to posh never get in the way of a good time when the glass in your hand, the sexy face in front of you, and the spinning mirror ball are all that matter. Be bullish.
Wall St House is renowned for a multitude of both regular and one-off wild theme parties, special nights, and events ranging from body-painting go-go girl parties to samba parties. Wall St House attracts a mix of Japanese and foreign party people.
Wall St House hours: 7pm-7am every day; Sunday trance & house night, 10pm-10am (i.e. till Monday morning). Happy hour (all drinks 500 yen for men, free for women) 7pm-10pm.
Roppongi does not have a gay-friendly reputation when it comes to drinking and clubbing. Gay and lesbian people looking to have fun are generally advised to seek it elsewhere. Shinjuku Ni-Chome with its numerous gay bars, clubs and saunas is the best place to start.
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