Roppongi (六本木) is an expensive section of Tokyo's Minato ward famous for its nightlife, much of which is geared towards foreigners. It is also a major daytime attraction, with two massive shopping and dining complexes, and various museums.
The area around Roppongi to the south and west is known as Azabu (麻布). These districts are generally quieter than Roppongi but have also absorbed some of its vibrant commercial activity and nightlife.
"Roppongi" literally means "six trees", as six very old and large trees used to mark the area centuries ago. Nothing remains from this period, as the area was destroyed by the great 1923 earthquake, and then by World War II bombings.
Driven by the presence of the Japanese (and then American) military, nightlife has been thriving since the 19th century. Since 1960, the disco scene has attracted all party-goers, Japanese and foreigners alike. Even though "Roppongi" is still synonym of "clubbing", the area has become the trendy place for large corporations to have their headquarters: Google, Apple, Yahoo, Goldman Sachs, and even The Pokemon Company. To accommodate this growth, three office/entertainment skyscrapers have been built in the last decade.
Roppongi is the most cosmopolitan place in Japan, with the highest concentration of embassies, consulates and foreign residents, making it a must-see multicultural melting-pot like nowhere else in the country. Roppongi is also a modern art hub. Despite the frenzy, Roppongi has many peaceful green areas, and still is home to many local residents, so don't hesitate to explore the back alleys, you will find small parks, temples, and local life going on.
The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (grey, H04) spans from South-West Tokyo to the North-East, via Ebisu, Ginza, Akihabara and Ueno.
The Toei Ōedo Line (purple, E23) makes a large "6" shape around Tokyo, it is the best way to come from Shinjuku or Yoyogi.
Until about 9pm, you can catch an eastbound Toei public bus anywhere along Roppongi-dori (which runs beneath an easy to spot elevated highway), starting at Shibuya station. Mention to the driver you'd like to get off at Roppongi just in case.
From Shibuya, you can walk east to Roppongi in about 40 minutes via Roppongi-dori, which you might enjoy it if you like walking along elevated highways. In the daytime, you can jump on one of the frequent buses that travel along this road.
Perhaps more interesting is the walk west from the Imperial Palace, which takes about twice as long, but features a view of the Diet Building, some nice parks and other interesting architecture.
Alternatively, take a 10-15 minute walk from Tameike-Sannō (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, orange, G06), Roppongi-Itchōme (Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, blue-green, N05), or Nogizaka (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, green, N05). As these stations are all located in different areas, best to check a map before setting out.
A nice idea could be to get off at Azabu-jūban (Namboku Line or Ōedo Line), enjoy tea or dinner in the main shopping area (exit 4, Azabu-jūban station), before walking North to Roppongi at night (10 minutes).
- 1 Roppongi Crossing. The heart of Roppongi is this big intersection of Roppongi-dōri (六本木通り), under the elevated highway, and Gaien-higashi-dōri (外苑東通り).
- 2 National Art Center, Tokyo (National Art Center, Tokyo), 7-22-2 Roppongi (Nogizaka stn, exit 6). W–M 10:00–18:00. Tokyo's latest and greatest art museum, housed in an undulating wave-shaped building designed by Kisho Kurokawa and devoted entirely to changing exhibitions. Entry fees vary by exhibition, some are free.
- 3 Sumitomo Collection (Sen-oku Hakuko kan), 1-5-1 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. Since the 19th century, the Sumitomo family has collected art objects, such as bronzes, ustensils and paintings, mostly from Japan and China. ¥520, ¥310 for students, free for children under 15.
- 4 Roppongi Hills (六本木ヒルズ), 6-10-1 Roppongi (Hibiya line, Roppongi station, exit 1C; Oedo line, Roppongi station, exit 3), ☏ . Daily 07:00–03:00 next day. Roppongi Hills is an expansive shopping and entertainment complex, sleek and modern. It opened with much fanfare and remains popular. It has a number of attractions centered around the 53-story Mori Tower. Free.
- 5 Mohri Garden (毛利庭園) (Roppongi Hills, Hillside). Daily 07:00–23:00. In 2003, thousands of small Japanese killifish were liberated into this small park's pond after living in outer space as part as an experiment, they were the first animals to breed in space. You might also see duck families in Spring. Free.
- 6 Mori Art Museum (森美術館), Mori Tower, 53F (At the left of the Mori Tower building, climb the spiral stairs and walk through the elevated hallway), ☏ . W–M 10:00–22:00, Tu 10:00–17:00. This impressive art gallery hosts special exhibitions. The museum ticket includes admission to Tokyo City View. The Mori Arts Center Gallery adjacent to the Mori Art Museum requires separate admission (prices vary), not included with the Tokyo City View / Mori Art Museum ticket. Around ¥1500 depending on the exhibition.
- 7 Tokyo City View, Mori Tower, 52F, ☏ . Daily 09:00–24:00. This viewing deck gives you a 360º view of the city from 250 meters above sea level. Ticket includes admission to the Mori Art Museum.
- Tokyo city model (in the Mori Tower). A photo-realistic model of downtown Tokyo, with every real-life building photographed and its photo glued onto its 1:1000 scale model. Can be seen by appointment.
- 1 Karaoke-kan (カラオケ館), Roppongi 5-1-6, ☏ . Su–Th 12:00–06:00, F Sa 12:00–08:00. ¥640 for half an hour, ¥133 before 19:00.
- 2 Nagomi Spa and Fitness, Grand Hyatt Tokyo Hotel, 6-10-3 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:00–10:00 daily.
- 3 TV Asahi (テレビ朝日), Roppongi 6-9-1 (In Roppongi Hills, on the Azabujuuban side). 10:00–18:00. Headquarters of the television network that created Doraemon. Visit the mini-museum, complete with full-size models of the Doraemon world and of other popular Japanese TV shows. free.
- 4 Virgin Toho Cinemas (TOHOシネマズ 六本木ヒルズ), Roppongi Hills Keyakizaka (Posters can be seen at the back exit of Mori Tower), ☏ . 09:00–01:00 daily. If you are going to put down the going rate of nearly ¥1800 for a movie in Tokyo, this is the place to do it. Only ¥1000 every 1st and 14th of the month for normal screens. The nine-screen cinema has futuristic decor, THX and reserved seating. On Fridays and Saturdays this theater is open all night, so you can catch a movie if you are staying out late and are planning to catch the morning train.
Events and festivalsEdit
- Roppongi Art Night (六本木アートナイト). Every year on a Saturday at the end of March, 17:00-05:00. Modern art invades the whole area from afternoon to the next morning. Many interactive exhibits, fun for kids too. Free.
- 5 Roppongi Hills Bon Odori & Azabujuban Noryo Festival, ☏ . Every year at the end of August 17:00-21:00 on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Locals dance around drums in Japanese yukata dress in the Arena part of Roppongi Hills, expect Doraemon to make a surprise appearance to the delight of the kids. Continue your walk to the adjacent Azabujuban main street where all of the usually expensive restaurants set up a great variety of stalls and sell delicious food at reasonable prices. Free.
- In the first several floors of 1 Mori Tower and the adjoining buildings, there are heaps of shopping spots, nearly all are upscale. Similarly, most of the restaurants have a lot of style, and with prices to match.
- 2 Aoyama Book Center, Roppongi 6-1-20 (200 m from Roppongi station exit 3 towards Roppongi Hills), ☏ . M–Sa 10:00–23:30; Sun 10:00–22:00.
- 3 Don Quixote (ドン・キホーテ), Roppongi 3-14-10, ☏ . 24 hours daily. Discount store, 5 floors of everything you can think of, including clothing, electronics, costumes and Japanese souvenirs. Second floor sells drinks and food, large selection of snacks.
Not surprisingly, Roppongi has a plethora of international restaurants, and generally some of the best restaurants in Tokyo (though some research is needed to find them.)
Below budget? Lunch boxes can be found in any of the many convenience stores for around ¥400, and there are several supermarkets in the area:
- 1 Lincos (リンコス), near Roppongi Hills, same building as Tsutaya Roppongi, ☏ . 24 hours daily. Sophisticated bentos, you can eat them outside as there are tables and chairs just for that. Decent prices.
Turkish 2 doner kebab shops and other fast-foods are popular for people getting out of clubs, but there are numerous healthier yet affordable options. Unlike more expensive restaurants, these usually have the same prices for lunch and dinner.
- 3 Fujisoba (富士そば), Roppongi 7-14-10 (corner of the Roppongi crossing, just on the left of the Nojima electronics store). 24 hours daily. Small buckwheat noodle place. Healthy and popular with budget-conscious office workers. ¥600 for a good meal.
- 4 Ippudo. A chain, but one of the best ramens in the area. ¥1000.
- 5 Spajiro (スパじろう). 11:00-08:00 daily. Great spaghettis, Italian or Japanese-style. ¥1000.
- 6 TETSU, Roppongi Hills, Metro Hat B2F. Dip cold noodles into tasty thick hot soup, this is tsukemen! Free soup refill. If your soup gets cold, ask for the spectacular soup heating iron. ¥1000.
- Numerous fast-food chains are available, including Subway, McDonald's, and SoupStock.
- 7 Go!Go!Curry (ゴーゴーカレー) (Corner of the Roppongi crossing, on the right of the Softbank store, downstairs). Japanese-style curry rice. ¥800.
Around Roppongi Crossing:
- 8 Tsurutontan (つるとんたん), Roppongi 3-14-12, ☏ . 11:00–08:00. Huge delicious udon noodles. If you are very hungry, ask for twice or triple serving, it is free! Great udon, comfy atmosphere, but expect to wait 20 minutes before getting a seat. ¥1500.
- 9 Bangkok, 3-8-8, Woo Bldg, 2F. A lunchtime legend. Pad thai special on Thursdays (¥980) is divine.
- 10 yelo, Roppongi 5-2-11, ☏ . 10:00 to 05:00 the next day. Not really hungry? Go for shaved ice with toppings like you've never seen before. Try the tiramisu, watermelon or organic carrot mascarpone. ¥1000.
- 11 Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Roppongi Hills Hillside 2F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, ☏ . 11:00–22:00 daily. The first overseas venture of the eponymous Paris-based Michelin-starred chef. Each dish is a work of art almost as breathtaking as the price tag, as courses cost ¥2900–12,800 — still a steal by Tokyo gourmet standards. Reservations by telephone only.
- 12 Fukuzushi (福鮨), 5-7-8, Roppongi (behind Hard Rock Cafe), ☏ . 11:30–14:00, 17:30–23:00 daily. Sushi place. Set menus are available, and their ¥3000 lunch set is excellent. Dress code: No sleeveless for men. ¥10000.
- 13 Nihonryori RyuGin, 1st Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, ☏ . Combining a deep respect for the Japanese culinary heritage with a will to pushing boundaries has made Nihonryori RyuGin to regarded as one of the world's best restaurants. Serves a daily-changing fix menu based on what's available at the market. From ¥27,000 per person.
- 14 Roku Roku (六禄), Grand Hyatt 6F, Roppongi Hills, ☏ . 11:30–14:30, 18:00–21:30 daily. This complex of six restaurants on the sixth floor is a good choice if price is not an issue. You can choose between sushi, steak, Japanese and Chinese, and will be looking at upwards of ¥5000 per head on the bill.
- 15 Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) (In first floor of ARK Hills South Tower), ☏ . Described as somewhat of a hidden gem, this three Michelin star restaurant run by renowned "sushi maestro" Takashi Saito. With just eight seats, reservations should be made early.
Roppongi is the place to be (late) at night, although you might expect to encounter some non-Japanese street promoters, urging you to just take a free look in their strip clubs, and occasionally trying to shake your hand. The scene continues late into the night, and many bars, clubs, and discos are open until 04:00-05:00 when the first trains run in the morning.
There are innumerable watering holes, and generally speaking, first floor and ground floor establishments cater to young adults and foreigners while higher stories feature more exclusive clubs aimed at slightly older Japanese males. An ID is required by many clubs, so bring along your passport. Note that many of the clubs are very small, and leaving and re-entering without paying the entry charge again is often not possible.
Beware of touts inviting you into clip joints, some of which will go so far as to spike your drinks to wring you dry. Avoid going to a bar you've never heard of with someone that you didn't know before your journey. Leave your credit cards at home, since in a bid to combat fraud an increasing number of bars accept only cash anyway.
Bars for drinkingEdit
These bars are perfect for those who came to enjoy the taste of beer rather than for dancing.
- 1 Abbott's Choice, Kato Building, 2F, 5-1-5 Gaien-Higashi, ☏ . M–Sa 17:00–08:00, Su 18:00–06:00. Small, decent bar with NYC pop radio. Attracts a nice mix of tourists, expats and locals. A really welcome respite from the overpriced and overrated bars in the surrounding area. Free entrance, ¥700 drinks.
- 2 BrewDog, 5-3-2 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 17:00-00:00, Sa Su 15:00-00:00. The only Japanese antenna of the Scottish franchise, this bar has twenty different European and Japanese craft beers on tap. About ¥750 per beer.
- 3 Tokyo Sports Cafe, Fusion Blg.2F, 7-13-8 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This bar is right around the corner from Feria. Despite the name, this is a bar, primarily showing Soccer and Baseball (NFL Superbowl party yearly). The best thing about this bar is Friday night, which is Models Night. It attracts the same crowd as Feria, so you can go to Tokyo Sports Cafe first, then head out to Feria when the models move there. No cover charge.
Bars for partyingEdit
These bars are open all night, and dancing is the norm. Usually entrance is free but drinks can be more expensive than in real clubs.
- 4 Bar Quest Roppongi, 3F Rene No.2 Bldg, 5-3-1, ☏ . Su–Th 19:00–07:00, F Sa 19:00–10:00. Serves a selection of Aussie lagers including VB, Crown Lager and Coopers, cocktails and meat pies. A big-screen TV and a wide range of music played by DJs provide ongoing entertainment. You can also kick back Australian-style along the U-shaped bar. ¥500 per drink.
- 5 Black Horse, Roppongi 3-14-12 B1F. 18:00–05:00 daily. One of the better known places in the local expat community. It gets crowded late at night. The best nights here are Thursdays, though Fridays and Saturdays are also packed. On Thursdays, women get free champagne and chocolate fondue all night. Free entrance, ¥1000 per drink.
- 6 Motown, Roppongi 3-11-5, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 18:00–05:00 daily. Up a flight of stairs to the left of TGI Friday's. No cover except for special events, drinks are reasonable and the staff is English friendly. Popular among expats for its smaller size and music selection, you can often find groups or solo western businessmen (and women) on expense accounts into the wee hours of the morning. Does get crowded at times, so go early if you actually want enough space to dance.
- 7 Propaganda, Yua Roppongi Building 2F, 3-14-9 Roppongi, ☏ . 18:00–05:00 daily. An appropriately grubby joint decorated with propaganda posters and booming bass, playing mostly recent hits. The friendly staff parties as hard as the customers. Drinks ¥800–1000 (half price before 21:00), no cover charge.
- 8 The First Bar, B1F Roi Bldg (white building across from Donki, next to Paddy Foley's), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 18:00–05:00 daily. Touts itself as the biggest bar in Roppongi, which since it's not a club like Ageha, just might be true. Ladies usually get complimentary drink, wine, champagne or whatnot at the door. Normally house music, so the stuff you hear walking down Roppongi-dori. There's pool and darts in back, but a nice drink selection, which is a bit of a cocktail bar.
- 9 [dead link] Wall Street Bar, 3F Marina Bldg, 3-10-5 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 18:00–06:00 daily. Wall Street Bar 1 is in the small street near TGI Friday's, the side of the Korn building will have a poster pointing to it. There are also always staff members on the street recruiting the bar so you can always just ask them for the way. A Wall Street Bar 2 has also opened, past the Don Quixote and across the adjacent street . Be sure to ask for the fire show around 1AM – a tip will be appreciated, but not expected, and it will be worth hanging around. There's also a card available, at Wall Street Bar 1, possibly Bar 2, free shot and first drink ¥500. If a packed bar with loud music is what you are looking for, then you are good to come during the weekend. During weekdays the bar is more a lounge and chill out stop. ¥1000 with one drink.
Most of the clubs are in the Gaien Higashi street, at the right of subway exit 3.
- 10 1AOK, Roppongi 5-10-25, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Dance music, plays the top hits of the moment.
- 11 Red Area, 3-14-11 Roppongi. The best known of Roppongi's many meat markets, formerly Gaspanic [dead link] (renamed late 2013). Although it used to be where desperate foreigner men and desperate women hoping to score would congregate, it has taken on a much more Japanese vibe. There are lots of young people looking good, but it is not nearly as easy to score as it used to be. Plenty of eye candy, but if you want a hookup, you are advised to go to Black Horse, which is right next door. Nobody ever admits to going here, but it's packed tighter than the lower circles of Hell on most weekends. On Thursdays ("Happy Gaspanic Day") all drinks are ¥300 all night, while the rest of the time prices vary from ¥600–1000. The amount of alcohol in the drinks varies greatly, depending on the bartenders and the crowd. Notorious pickpocket spot. No entry fee, but you must have a drink in your hand at all times.
- 12 IBEX, Aries Bldg. 4F, 3-15-24 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hip-hop, R&B, and reggae club. Cover ¥1500 with 1 drinks.
- 13 Odeon Club, HanaTsubaki Bldg. 3F, 3-15-23 Roppongi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 20:00-05:00 daily. Mix of hip-hop and techno. one of the most popular after hours nightclubs open from 22:00 until 12:00 the next day Cover ¥1000 with 1 drink.
Sleeping is probably the last thing on your mind when here. There are plenty of places to hang out between the last train and the first one in the morning, but not surprisingly, very few of them are inexpensive.
Note that if you are a foreigner, then all hotels will require your actual passport in order to make a photocopy. These are all legitimate hotels, not love hotels. So if you find yourself needing a love hotel, your best bet is to take a cab to Shibuya.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Hotel Arca Torre Roppongi, Roppongi 6-1-23 (1 minute from Roppongi station exit 3), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:30. Also super centrally located at Roppongi Crossing, with small but acceptable rooms (the cheap ones are without daylight) From ¥11550.
- 2 Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi, Roppongi 1-6-2 Izumi Garden (direct connection to Roppongi Itchome station (Namboku line)), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Nice and spacious rooms targeting business travelers. From ¥10,000 per night (with great weekend specials from ¥6300).
- 3 the b, 3-9-8 Roppongi, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Super centrally located at Roppongi Crossing (center of night life area), 2 minutes to subway Hibiya and Oedo line, renovated in spring 2006, nice but small rooms. From ¥9000, with regular special discount offers when booking via the homepage (special offers available in Japanese only).
- 4 Grand Hyatt Tokyo, 6-10-3 Roppongi (In Roppongi Hills), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A part of Roppongi Hills, and not to be confused with the more famous Park Hyatt of Lost in Translation fame, which is in Shinjuku. Sleek and minimalistic, all black, gray and brown, with expensive design that never hesitates to sacrifice function for form, but the superlative service makes up for it. Rack rates marginally cheaper than the Park Hyatt at ¥37,000 and up.
Roppongi has, by Japanese standards, a slightly dangerous reputation and even makes it onto the US Department of State's Consular Information Sheet, probably mostly for lack of anything else to warn about. The main hazard is drunken fights, which should be steered clear of, as standard operating procedure for the police is to grab everybody in the vicinity and lock them up until things are sorted out, which may take some time. Some petty theft also occurs in crowded bars and clubs. In case of problem or for lost/stolen items, a police station can be found easily at the Roppongi Crossing.
While that is the general perception of Roppongi, it is far less dangerous than the other major areas that cater to foreigners in Asia. It is not even the most dangerous place in Tokyo in terms of clubs hustling customers: that distinction goes to Kabukichō and its Yakuza-owned hostess bars. Remember that, even if Roppongi is slightly dangerous by Japanese standards, Japanese crime standards are very different than those in much of the world. Roppongi is very safe, as long as you are not there during an earthquake. Many young women walk on the street alone late at night in complete comfort. The main danger is to your wallet.
Be wary of hustlers on the streets, who will often try to talk foreigners into going to hideously overpriced gentleman's bars or clubs – the extent of the overpricing may not even be apparent until you get the bill at 05:00. They can be quite persistent, especially if they think you might be in the military, but don't get angry or even speak with them: they will leave you alone after 10 seconds if you just keep walking and ignore them completely. Some clip joints send foreign female confederates into other bars to pick up clueless-looking targets, and some have been known to spike your drink and then ravage your credit card while you're out cold. If you want to escape Roppongi with your wallet intact, stick to places with a sizable crowd, and don't bring your credit card, as many places don't accept them anyway. Never go to a gentleman's bar suggested by someone you just met, and as usual, don't leave your drinks unattended.
- Walk 15 minutes to Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji temple, described in the Minato article.
- Complete a night of decadent debauchery with a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji, a few stops down the Oedo Line.
- Shibuya (3km) and Aoyama (2 km) are within walking distance. (Or, if it's daytime, take a ¥210 bus.)
|Routes through Roppongi|
|Nakameguro ← Ebisu ←||W E||→ Ginza → Tsukiji → Akihabara|
|Toshimaen ← Nerima ←Shinjuku ←||N E||→ Shiodome → Tsukiji market → Kiyosumi-Shirakawa|
|Yokohama-Machida ← into ← Yoga ←||W E||→ Takagicho → into → Ginza|