Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and more: Chase the night life in the Land of the Rising Sun

2019-01-08 18:00 - Saara Mowlana
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Tokyo, Japan view of Shibuya Crossing, one of the

Here's where to keep your night lit after the Rising Sun sets. (Photo: iStock)

While it might be known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is also known for its thriving and vibing night life and party scene.

And, with its buzzing city culture, it's not hard to see why it wouldn't be.

From the lit streets of Tokyo to the glittering waters of Osaka - here's where and how you can get your party on after the Rising Sun sets.

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Where to get your party on

Japan's city streets are known to stay buzzing during the night with activities and fun.

The best destinations to get your party on around Japan are:

Tokyo

It's no surprise that Tokyo has a bustling nightlife - if not the main hub of nightlife and the party scene in Japan. The city streets are embraced by the haze of humming neon lights and the thick of locals and tourists all meandering through the avenues seeking a respite from the daily work grind.

Whether its seeking out a solid bar to kick back in, a club to let loose or a karaoke joint to sing about your daily angst - these are some of the best districts to get your nightlife on around Tokyo:

  • Shibuya
  • Shinjuku
  • Roppongi
  • Ginza
  • Shimokitazawa
  • Ebisu

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Kyoto

Don't be fooled by appearances, this ancient city is not only limited to the a rich pool of historical sites.

Visitors seeking some fun should seek out these must-visit areas: the Gion District, Pontocho Alley and Kiyamachi Street, where you'll have a hard time deciding where to start off. They brim with pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs, and are great people-watching venues.

It's also key to note that not all of Kyoto nightlife is restricted to the ground floor as many venues are in the higher floors of buildings so keep your eyes open for the pulsating neon signs that indicate their location. 

Some districts to check out in Kyoto include:

  • Higashiyama
  • Kamigyo
  • Kita
  • Minami
  • Shimogyo

Osaka

Osaka is full of countless nightspots to discover - from high-class cocktail bars to grungy live houses to tiny, hole-in-the-wall whiskey bars.

You can also opt to get a taste of Japanese culture on your night out with a visit to the National Bunraku puppet theatre or the Osaka Nogaku Hall, which presents classical Japanese noh drama.

There are many venues that hum with music - from live music to hot dance music to relaxing jazz. Head to the area around Shinsaibashi station to get a taste of the biggest concentration of nightlife in Osaka.

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Nagoya

Downtown Nagoya, particularly in the Sakae district, features all kinds of nightlife activities that range from traditional Japanese bars to modern, chic and international live music venues as well as nightclubs.

The area's electric vibrancy attracts not only residents but also partygoers from neighbouring cities.

City nightclubs tend to often charge an entrance fee but many venues are known to have special nights when fees are waived or reduced like on ladies' nights. One other reason why Nagoya is so popular among clubbers is that its bars stay open until very late - allowing you to party until the sun rises, again. 

Kobe

If you're looking for some night owl action in Kobe, you're likely to be spoiled for choice. The city has everything from hole-in-the-wall bars to karaoke clubs and English pubs to vibing dance clubs.

A quick wander around the city is sure to have you hopping from party to party as most bars live within a quick five- to 10-minute stroll from the city's throbbing hub.

While it's true that Kobe can't compare to the madness of nearby Osaka and the sheer size of Tokyo, there's something to be said about its thriving bar and music scene.

Boasting some of the oldest and hottest jazz venues in Japan, Kobe is considered a hotbed of talent in the country's jazz scene - in fact, most jazz clubs are conveniently located in the Sannomiya area of central Kobe.

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Sapporo

While Sapporo is often seen as a more laid-back and relaxed destination than equivalent-sized cities in Japan, however it is also known for its brewery and whiskey, so it's not too surprising that it also has an electric nightlife - particularly in its Susukino area.

Susukino is the largest nightlife centre north of Tokyo – with many 24-hour bars, restaurants, pubs gracing its streets.

It's estimated there are more than 4 000 venues within this loosely-defined city area. You'll also uncover the most popular joint in town - the three-storey King Xmhu with its themed party nights and spectacular décor, both inside and out.

Nara

This small, ancient town that features more temples than bars, so you should expect the nightlife in Nara to be relaxed.

However, you will encounter several bars where you can watch live bands, sample Nara's famed sake brands, or just eat and drink with friends in a neighbourhood 'izakaya'.

The most convenient area to start off your night is in the shopping street near Kintetsu Nara Station - which is alive with restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars.

And if you visit the old part of Nara called Naramachi Street, you’ll stumble across a few interesting Japanese-style bars. This is where to meet locals and office staff who go after work for a cold brew, a bowl of ramen and a chat before calling it a day - it serves as the perfect opportunity to mingle with some locals.

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