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Single exposure of dancers at Warehouse’s Pink! Photo: Karen Dion

If you’re in Japan or planning on going there, you have probably been told that all the gaijin in Tokyo do their partying in Roppongi. If this has convinced you to avoid Roppongi at all costs (and I hope it has), keep reading.

TO BE FAIR, underneath its dirt, alienating neon glare and eardrum-lacerating racket, there is something comforting about Roppongi: no pretensions, no dress code; just rowdy bar after rowdy bar, drinking, dancing, fun, and a couple of familiar looking American chain restaurants. After a few nights’ walking up and down Roppongi-dori you are certain to find new friends, though you may lose your wallet.

The Tokyo club scene took a blow in 2008 with the closure of Nishi-Azabu’s long running and much beloved Space Lab Yellow but Yellow’s departure was marked with an appropriately fabulous closing party and the following three clubs are more than filling the gap.

Basic Information about Clubbing in Tokyo:
-Entry charges for all clubs depend upon the night but usually run from ¥2,000 to ¥4,000 ($22 to $44).
-The legal drinking age in Japan in 20 and all clubs check ID at the door.
-The Tokyo Metro is closed between 12am and 5am, so you will either have to stay out late or get an (expensive) taxi home.
ageHa

The mother of all Tokyo clubs, ageHa is a giant warehouse in an industrial district a little outside of metropolitan Tokyo. The complimentary shuttle bus that runs hourly to and from nearby Shibuya station might sound like a drag, but is actually part of the fun.

ageHa’s marquis adds a touch of Hollywood.
Photo: Karen Dion

If you take the party bus, you are most likely to bond with partygoers as excited and giddy from convenience store-bought Chūhai as yourself. The journey takes you across the Bay Bridge and past the giant glittering Ferris wheel before depositing you right outside ageHa.

Open since 2002, ageHa attracts the biggest DJs in the world. On any weekend you can catch the likes of Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Fatboy Slim or Paul van Dyck.

Its four dance floors accommodate up to 5,000 people, and there are an outdoor swimming pool, four bars, an outdoor dance tent, and a store selling ageHa merchandise. You can even get ageHa brand condoms in restroom vending machines.

ageHa is what you can confidently call a super club; it is the biggest club in Japan and there’s even another branch in Taipei.

2-2-10 Shin Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo 136-0082
(03) 5534-2525

Womb

Womb’s notable disco ball is the biggest in Japan.
Photo: Karen Dion

Have you seen the movie Babel? Do you remember the scene where the deaf schoolgirl takes an Ecstasy pill and goes to a club? The club was Womb.

Womb’s incredible laser system played a major role in that scene and it is a central part of the experience at this cavernous space discreetly located on Love Hotel Hill in Shibuya.

It’s not just the lasers though; Womb regularly draws international artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Sven Vath and John Digweed.

You will almost always see Womb in the Top Ten on World’s Best Clubs lists and, just for good measure, it also has Japan’s biggest mirror ball.

2-16 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0044
(03) 5459-1383

Warehouse

Warehouse is a little less well known than ageHa and Womb, yet is just a ten-minute walk from Roppongi and open on weeknights as well as weekends.

Chaotic Video from the Tokyo Decadence fetish party:

The playlist is eclectic at Warehouse: on different nights you can hear house, techno, R ‘n’ B or Hip Hop, and you will see go-go dancers up on the podiums and pole most nights.

Perhaps most fun are the themed nights: look out for Pink! Pole dance Night, Bikini Night and the Tokyo Decadence fetish party.

B1F Fukao-building, 1-4-5, Azabu-juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0045
(03) 6230-0343

Clubs


 

About The Author

Karen Dion

Karen Dion grew up in Scotland and variously called Tokyo, London, Sydney, Reykjavik, Valparaiso and Prague home before settling (for now) in Hawaii. She has written for Honolulu Weekly and therumpus.net and blogs at http://sixtrees.wordpress.com.

  • http://theworldistoobig.wordpress.com Matt Scott

    I can’t wait to go to Japan, it seems like everything is done just a little differently over there.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    I am fairly in love with that giant disco ball.

  • Heidi

    Velfarre is a fantastic upscale club in Roppongi; it’s not on the main strip, but its disco ball rivals that of Womb. They have parties that begin at 5 a.m. on occasion!! There are loads of fantastic clubs in Tokyo. Code and Liquid room in Shinjuku are two very fun places that bring in international acts, both a short walk from the station.

  • http://kakuii.wordpress.com Karen

    ^^^ Velfarre closed in ’07

  • http://MaxTheITpro.com Maxwell

    Awesome post…great info on clubs in Tokyo. Can some1 tell me the place (or name) of a club that is like a huge underground parking lot or something like that?? I’ve heard it’s a blast.
    BTW, which of the above clubs spin 100% EDM (House, techno or trance music)?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ben.list Ben List

      No Tokyo clubs spin 100% of anything.  You should check clubberia.com or iflyer.tv and do a genre search and you will probably discover something you like.

  • http://sixtrees.wordpress.com Karen

    Hmm I’m not sure which club that is. As for EDM: Fridays at ageHa; most nights at Womb and it varies at Warehouse. ageHa is huge, I’d recommend going there, although it is bit of a trek.

  • http://MaxTheITpro.com Maxwell

    Aah thanks Karen!
    I’ll definitely check out ageHa and Womb when I get a chance to visit Japan. BTW, which of the 2 would u say have a “better” VIBE? You know…that indescribable feeling of being at one with everyone and in tuned with the music, the DJ, the atmosphere. It’s why I love going to big EDM events like Bal en Blanc in Montreal or Labour of Love at The Guvernment/Kool Haus in Toronto, and clubs like The Comfort Zone in Toronto.

    Do you know how hard it is to get a DJ gig over there?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ben.list Ben List

      I would agree that Womb has a comparitively intimate vibe.  That said its gained a bit of a reputation in the last couple years as having too many tourists looking for pickups and some of the more deep music lovers and underground folks have moved on.
      DJ gigs are not easy unless you have connections.  Almost no clubs have “residencies” except maybe Roppongi where some DJs are only working off playlists.  Most other clubs do events organized by crews and individuals, and they usually have a tight crews + possibly very special guests, and therefore little wiggle room for adding other unknowns.Maybe theres a way to work that, but I wouldn’t know :)

  • http://sixtrees.wordpress.com Karen

    For me, Womb because it’s so much more intimate.

    You could try the Roppongi bars for DJ gigs, someplace small like Odeon. They are not great clubs, but it would be a start,

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.list Ben List

    Some others.
    Unit – Daikanyama (10 min from Ebisu) Arguably the best sound in Tokyo.  About the same as Warehouse in terms of underground cred, but maybe somewhat deeper event types.
    Oath – (10 min from Shibuya) Tiny.  Free events by some of Tokyo’s bigger names, esp on Fridays and Saturdays.  Always a very cosy, almost outdoor event vibe.
    Vision – A Recent addition.  Sound is apparently mediocre but large space and some good artists.  
    Eleven – Same location as the now defunct Yellow. Lots of big names, skews a bit classic house.

  • James Whitehead

    anyone have an opinion on the outdoor pool at AgeHa…very intrigued.

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