A decade ago, going to Roppongi meant you were either visiting an embassy or out to party with the expat community. While Roppongi remains one of Tokyo’s best nightlife districts, it has successfully broadened its appeal with a wider variety of cultural and entertainment options.
The project that was most significant in changing the face of Roppongi was Roppongi Hills, a behemoth modern shopping and entertainment complex housed at the base of Mori Tower that opened in 2003. As well as upscale stores and restaurants, Roppongi Hills is home to the Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View, a viewing platform with 360-degree views from 820 feet (250 meters) above ground. Elsewhere in Roppongi, you’ll also find a second entertainment and shopping complex (Tokyo Midtown) and the National Art Center Tokyo. The area includes a sizable collection of international restaurants, bars, and clubs.
Your options for guided tours of the area include (as you might expect) fun-filled pub crawls, which usually include free drinks at the bars you hop through. Other options include taking a relaxed bicycle tour or a scholar-led architecture walking tour that points out Roppongi’s examples of superflat art and Japonism design.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Roppongi is a must-visit for those wanting a slice of Tokyo nightlife.
- The area also has a lot of appeal for art and architecture lovers.
- In the past, Roppongi had a reputation for danger. It’s much different now, and the main annoyances are persistent touts trying to get you into their clubs.
- The movie theater in Roppongi Hills is a high-tech, futuristic experience: Some screens are MX4D.
How to Get There
Roppongi station is served by both Tokyo Metro (the Hibiya line) and Toei Subway (Oedo line). The Metro Hibiya line directly connects to other areas of interest to travelers such as Ginza, Ueno, and Akihabara. Roppongi is also within easy walking distance of Aoyama, Azabu Juban, and Hiroo.
When to Get There
Roppongi’s nightlife scene starts late—usually close to midnight—and rages on until the early morning when the first trains begin to run (around 5am) and take revelers back home. Every night is bustling, but Fridays nights, when workers finish for the week, are the liveliest.
A Popular Hangout
At the bottom of Keyakizaka-dori, Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi bookstore is open 21 hours a day, making it a popular hangout for revelers waiting for the first train home and others whiling away daytime hours. The bookstore focuses on photography, architecture, and design and allows you to read the books at leisure in the adjacent Starbucks. Look for discount flyers here for the Mori Art Museum and other local attractions.