Tokyo is one of the world’s top 24-hour cities, meaning there are an incredible number of things to entertain you even after the sun has gone down on the Japanese capital. While its restaurants and karaoke bars may be some of the more obvious things to do in Tokyo at night, there are a great many other intriguing and eclectic night time attractions to fill those hours of darkness in a city that never sleeps. Let’s take a look at some of our favourites!
The top 9 things to do in Tokyo at night
Check out the street food scene
Tokyo has one of the finest food scenes anywhere in the world, and that goes for street food as well as the city’s impressive number of Michelin-starred restaurants. The standards of cooking in the Japanese capital are phenomenal wherever you choose to eat – with even major railway stations known for their cuisine! Street hawkers remain open long into the night, so why not do like the locals do and slip into one of these unassuming storefronts and check out the local specialities? Whether it’s ramen noodles or katsu pork, everything is made fresh to order, so what are you waiting for? We’re sure you’ll agree with us the street food is definitely one of the top things to do in Tokyo at night!
Explore the Tokyo nightlife
Tokyo nightlife comes in all different forms. As well as the neighbourhood street food stalls, there are a wide array of karaoke bars, pubs, and clubs. Meaning ‘empty orchestra’, karaoke is a Japanese national pastime, with everyone from housewives to investment bankers grabbing the microphones with relish. Many people go as far as practicing at home before heading out and performing in front of the night’s bar clientele, although if you’re feeling a little shy you can also rent a private room so its just you and your friends. And if singing really isn’t your thing at all, don’t worry, there are plenty of bars where its possible to simply relax with a beer or whiskey and soda, and some incredible clubs where you can dance long into the night too.
Shop ‘til you drop
If you’re a lover of shopping, you’ll be very happy to hear that shopping is another of the popular things to do in Tokyo at night, with stores staying open long after dark. What’s more, many stores, such as those on the upmarket Ginza district put on impressive light displays at night adding a further dimension to the city streets and your social media posts! Alternatively, why not check out the Akihabara district, known throughout the city as the electronics neighbourhood. Even if you’re not after a new television or games console, Akihabara is a wonderful place for a stroll in the evening, and a great place to rub shoulders with Tokyo locals.
Take part in a traditional festival
Incredibly, many of Tokyo’s traditional festivals have elements that take place at night. Known as matsuri, these festivals bring residents out onto the streets for a friendly and welcoming celebration of Japanese culture, with plenty of food, activities, and firework displays to keep you entertained. One of Tokyo’s largest is Kanda Matsuri, which occurs in May and features floats, musicians and dancers. Always popular in Tokyo are the spring’s cherry blossom festivals, often celebrated and commemorated with late-night picnics beneath the cherry trees in the parks of Ueno and Yoyogi among others.
Visit the temple at Senso-ji
Not only is the Buddhist temple of Senso-ji in the Asakusa neighbourhood the oldest temple in Tokyo, dating back 1300 years and making it a very worthwhile attraction on any trip to the capital, but it’s grounds are also open throughout the night, making it one of the most unique things to do in Tokyo at night. Dotted with beautifully-manicured gardens and a trickling stream in the Zen tradition, these spaces are even more tranquil after dark, when the crowds begin to thin. Having admired the main temple building and its five-storey pagoda, you shouldn’t miss the chance to explore more of Asakusa, part of Tokyo’s low (or old) city, with streets lined by small independent food stalls and stores belonging to those working in authentic Japanese crafts.
Step out for a night walk
One of the best – of many – free things to do in Tokyo at night is to slip on a good pair of shoes and head out on a night walk. At this time of day the streets are less crowded, making it much easier to gaze at the incredible lights and structures that form a quintessential part of any Tokyo trip without getting caught up in the crowds of rush hour. Check out Shinjuka or Shibuya for the best neon and light advertisements, or somewhere like Chiyoda to experience one of the city’s busiest areas with hardly any other pedestrians or cars on the road.
Bathe in a traditional onsen
Many of Tokyo’s onsen, or traditional bath houses, remain open at night. Heated by the volcanic activity that has shaped the islands, these geothermal pools are less about cleaning yourself (you in fact need to do this before entering the onsen) as about relaxing in the warm waters and the natural environments in which they are set. And while bathing in an onsen is traditionally a shared experience, it’s also possible to reserve a short time in the onsen for private use.
Admire the night time city panoramas
Tokyo has a variety of viewing platforms from which to enjoy the panoramas of the city at night, which is one of the fantastic things to do in Tokyo at night alone, as a couple, or as a group. Tokyo City View at the top of the Mori Tower in the Roppongi district actually has two levels from which to admire the city. The first is the interior observation deck on the tower’s fifty-second floor, which remains open until 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The second observation space is the roof’s outdoor viewing platform, open until 10pm every night of the week. To get even higher, check out the Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest building, with observation decks 350-metres up.
Head to a game
Not just for teenagers, Japanese of all ages attend the city’s arcades to play video games. At these thriving arcade centres you’ll find all manner of games, from 1980s classics to the latest hits. If you prefer live sports, then an evening baseball game is definitely the way to go, with baseball being one of the country’s most popular pastimes. With games taking place in huge stadiums, a baseball game is a wonderful way to experience residents of this mighty city letting their hair down come evening.
As a 24-hour city, Tokyo has a huge number of things to do at night. From shopping to traditional festivals, baseball games to karaoke sessions, be sure to miss none of these fantastic attractions when you visit the Japanese capital.