Nothing Beats a Live Beat: 10 Live Music Bars in Tokyo

by Mieke - TripleLights travel specialist

When you visit Tokyo, a visit to one of its many live bars is a must. Mingling with the Japanese clientele, you can enjoy live performances by singers from abroad or from Japan. The bars listed here all have their own atmosphere. I’ve tried to make the most diverse list as possible: some bars are hip, serving interesting kinako-lattes while you listen to an a capella singer, others are famous, fancy bars with well-known jazz and blues artists performing on stage while still others are smokey old jazz cafes which leave you wondering if the furniture is older than the visitors, or the other way around.   Check the links for more information on each of the bars.

1: Blue Note

Doubtlessly one of the most famous lice jazz bars around the world. Since they opened up business in Tokyo it’s been popular with both foreigners (which means English speaking staff!) and Japanese alike. At Blue Note you can enjoy delicious food and drink in front of some of the world’s top live acts. Reservations are necessary, so call +81 (0)3-5485-0088 in advance. Very classy bar, ideal for a date.

2: New York Bar  

Who hasn’t seen Sofia Coppola’s movie ‘Lost in Translation’? If you have, you might recognize the dazzling interior when you step into the New York Bar. If not, this famous live bar also offers an unrivalled view of the skyline of Tokyo. The night-time view of the city draws in many people. Couple this view with stellar jazz performances, exquisite food, and some top shelf liquors and youhave the ingredients of a memorable evening.Nothing Beats a Live Beat: 10 Live Music Bars in Tokyo

3: Cotton Club

Tokyo’s Cotton Club is based on the original New York Cotton Club that drew celebrities and large numbers of other big stars in the 1920s. A sophisticated French menu coupled with warm soul and R&B music makes this a perfect spot for a good night out. Many artists who perform at Cotton Club are internationally recognized, but also famous Japanese artists, whom you might have never heard of, take the stage. Early booking secures a front row seat, but the venue is rather small so even seats at the back have a decent view on the stage.

4: Bauhaus

Bauhaus in Roppongi has been a popular venue with Japanese and foreign lovers of rock music since they opened in 1981.
Bauhaus’ staff have been jamming together for over 20 years,  specializing in 70s and 80s rock (think Eric Clapton, The Beatles,
Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, etc..) Sessions after 23:00 tend to be especially good. You can request your favourite song and from the waiters. Or you can join one of their guitar lesson recitals (reservation required).

Nothing Beats a Live Beat: 10 Live Music Bars in Tokyo5: Artist 

A hidden gem in the hip Shimokitazaka neighbourhood, Roots Music Cafe ‘Artist’ features interesting live acts every day from 19:00.
The tiny café gives a very homely and intimate atmosphere; there is just enough space for a singer plus a guitar. They feature mostly Japanese upcoming singers, so you will have a chance to witness some live music you won’t easily find at home.

6: Eggman

A slightly younger crowd gathers at live bar Eggman in Shibuya. Descend the spiral staircase down to the basement to hear rock, blues or light jazz musicians get their groove on. Most of the acts are local and of the lighter, sweeter variety. Tickets available at the door, but get there early to make sure they’re not sold out. Most shows commence at around 19:00.

7: Shelter

This intimate live bar in Shimokitazawa always books a nice mix of both up-and-coming and more established local bands that play bigger venues, mainly rock music. Overseas acts also perform here on occasion.

Shelter

has been around for more than a decade and is exceedingly popular, so it’s best to arrive early to save a seat.

Nothing Beats a Live Beat: 10 Live Music Bars in Tokyo8: Kento’s 

This live house, conveniently located just outside Shinjuku station, focuses on old skool soul, RnB and disco classics. Their in-house performers are almost all Japanese, many of them covering American (soul) idols of the ‘70s and ‘80s. If you’re up for a funky night of dancing under the shimmering lights of the disco ball, this is the place to go!

9: Claps

This Roppongi live house hosts so many different genres, it’s hard to name a main genre. Most performers are Japanese who’ve

already accumulated somewhat of a fan base. Their schedule tends to be irregular, so if you go there for the live music (instead of for their dinners, which are also recommendable) you might like to check ahead.


10: Violon  

This bar (or would you call it a cafe) is without doubt the strangest in my list. If you didn’t know it was there, you would surely pass it without even knowing of its existence. But I think you shouldn't. Why? The unrivaled atmosphere created by the eccentric jazz and blues loving clientele, combined with the owner, hidden behind a counter so full of stuff you can hardly see him.
Violon has a piano in the back on which ‘sometimes’ (according to the owner) people come and play a bit. There is a live schedule on the website, but this is updated so irregularly that you might as well not. The menu is meagre, with only three choices: coffee, ice coffee and soft drinks. However, you will find you coffee accompanied by a small bottle of liquor to mix into your drink to taste. The only food on the menu is Violon’s famous cheesecake (which, according to the owner, is also ‘sometimes’ available). However, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you are welcome to bring your own snacks along. Oh, and did I mention the interior? It’s rad.

Nothing Beats a Live Beat: 10 Live Music Bars in Tokyo

Make your trip the best. 

Everywhere in Tokyo have something different, it is almost impossible to walk through the Tokyo streets without seeing something new or feeling like in movies, but you have your interests and some things can disappoint you if you don't go to the right place.

Due to this, it is good to be with people that understand the place.  You are in your trip and want to take the best from the country in your short time there. For this, we recommend you to contact one of our guides. They can orientate you and you will certainly go to the right places, save your time and have a better experience. But if you think that it is terrible to make trips with guides and have to follow a schedule,  we present you the differential of TripleLights, you can customizable your itinerary following your interests and also go on your time, without needing rushing. Furthermore, you don't need to be in a huge group, you can only with the people you are traveling and that you care, learning more about the culture and history of the place. 

But you probably think that all this will be so expensive, right? No.

TripleLights offers private guides to make customizable itineraries, tours to guide you to the best spots and private cars to you to be able to navigate Narita and Japan without depending on public transportation, all these for an affordable price.

Watch the following video to know more. 

 

Explore Tokyo

15 Best Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo Tour Guide - What is a Good Tour Guide 

Best Ways to Tour Tokyo

Best Areas to Stay in Tokyo - Where to Stay in Tokyo?

9 Best and Most Popular Tokyo Tours

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Tokyo


30 Jul 2014

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ airport pickup ”

Very Good
1 day ago Traveler: Eric -   Tour Guide: Oeuvre Limousine Services

driver was waiting at airport with sign with my name on and taken to hotel straight away
read more

“ Great Guide, Many happy moments ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Shafeeq -   Tour Guide: Riko

My family and I had 2 full days in Tokyo, we booked the 2nd day with Riko, proposing a long list of places to see in this short time, the response from Riko was very quick and her suggestions / planning for the trip very apt. Still, I was very skeptical, considering we were to cover all these spots with a child. We were extremely happy end of this trip, for the immaculate planning, using all the d...
read more

“ Saw a lot in a short time ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Colin -   Tour Guide: Junko

My husband and I had a long layover in Tokyo, and Junko was a great guide through the city both efficiently and knowledgabilty. She customized our itinerary to what we wanted to see and what we had time for. Definitely recomend!
read more

“ Tokyo 1 Full Day ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Richard -   Tour Guide: Riko

We had 4 adults and 6 children a large group to manage. Riko managed to get us to all the sites we wanted to see, the Fish Markets were a highlight. Riko's knowledge and explanation of Japanese culture and traditions was excellent. We had a wonderful time. Thanks Riko!!!
read more

“ Best Tourist Guide ever ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Ana -   Tour Guide: Makiko

Makiko was simply amazing. Very knowlageble, kind, flexible and approachable. She planned an amazing 1 day itinerary for us and we loved every bit if it. You cannot go wrong with Makiko; We 100% recommend her. We are very grateful to her for her oustanding services.
read more

“ Highly recommend touring Tokyo with Yukiko ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Robert -   Tour Guide: YUKIKO

We had a perfect and fun day with Yukiko. We were on the beginning of a two week trip to Japan and Thailand. Working with Yukiko to plan our tour was very easy. We conversed over email for around 2 months to custom tailor our tour. We only had 1 day to experience the best of Tokyo so Yukiko and I worked on a 5 destination trip plus lunch. Each stop on our tour was great. We started at the Out...
read more

“ Very worthwhile ”

Excellent
3 days ago Traveler: Tanya -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

We had Toshi as a personal guide around Tokyo for 6 hours after we landed. He met us at our hotel and showed us some main attractions as well as less known ones. The day was not rushed, yet we saw many sights. We learned how to use the rail network system and Toshi related really well with our whole group, including 2 teenagers. Such a great investment and I would really recommend having his loca...
read more

“ Sumo, Temples, Shrines and Geiko in Tokyo ”

Excellent
3 days ago Traveler: Stephen -   Tour Guide: KASHIMA

Our family of 6 had an excellent and enriching tour with Kashima-san. One of the main reasons we wanted a guide in Tokyo was to help with arranging a tour of a sumo stable in Tokyo, many of which are weary of visitors. Despite this, Kashima-san managed to book a tour of the Hakkaku sumo stable. Ahead of the visit, Kashima-san sent us a summary of sumo wrestling and what we might expect to see in t...
read more

“ Wonderful day in Tokyo ”

Excellent
3 days ago Traveler: Giuseppe -   Tour Guide: Makiko

Yes I was lucky... nice weather, not so many people and the antique market just opened today, but I would never had such beautiful experience without the help of Makiko. In a few hours I have visited so many interesting places and had so many new experiences.. the fish market (the big tuna cut was amazing..), the antique market, the temples, the local food... everything perfect. I left Tokyo know...
read more

“ Tokyo Highlights ”

Excellent
3 days ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: Makiko

We had an amazing time with Makiko. She was very knowledgeable, professional, and fun. She communicated with us several times in the weeks leading up to our tour. I had a few ideas of what we wanted to see and she incorporated those into other popular and traditional places to visit. She made sure we ate at a place that accommodated everyone’s tastes. Makiko is fluent in English and very easy...
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started