Whether you’re obsessed with punk, hip hop or jazz, there’s a vibrant music scene to explore on your next trip to Tokyo. Tapping into live music — and local musicians’ favored haunts —takes you straight to the heart of the city’s electrifying artistic culture. Check out these of-the-moment hotspots, and be sure to update your Spotify playlists as you go to maximize those sonic memories.
Shibuya is a key neighborhood to explore, with music venues that span genres from hip-hop and electronic dance music to frothy pop. Standing as a virtual monument to the force and power of Japanese music culture is Tower Records. Nine stories high with a basement performance space, it’s one of the biggest music outlets in the world (in Japan, CDs are alive and well, as people still love to own the physical music).
1-22-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Rub elbows with local and international musicians and DJs at Five G Music Technology, a renowned shop that’s been around for decades, specializing in new and vintage synths and other instruments. Located on the fourth floor of a building in a shopping district of Harajuku, it’s a favorite haunt for musicians who are always welcome to try out the gear.
4F 1-14-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
At Big Love Records in Harajuku, walls of underground and indie vinyl are on full display, attracting a cult following. The shop’s Instagram handle gives you a taste of the place, along with a peek at hipster hoodies, tees and caps from their Big Cartel clothing collection that ships worldwide.
3F-A, 2-31-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Vuenos opened in Shibuya in 1998 with a central aim to spread the word about Latin music, but it has since evolved to become more of a showcase for hip hop, R+B and reggae. Be prepared to stand in line to get in – or try hopping across the street to the owners’ other locale, Club Asia, a magnet for electronica.
Vuenos, 2 Chome-21-7 Dōgenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō
Club Asia, 1-8 Maruyamachō, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Locals flock to Liquidroom, a small venue known for its superior sound quality and a varied schedule that’s constantly updated. Recent gigs range from solo guitarist Ken Yokoyama (formerly of the semi-punk group High Standard) to Mocky.
3 Chome-16 Higashi, Shibuya, Tokyo
At the sprawling basement club Sound Museum Vision (aka Vision), you’ll find everything from hip hop and techno to house music across four rooms.
2−10−7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
More in the mood for a cocktail in a cozy bar? With shelves of over 15,000 vinyl records covering the walls, Little Soul Café has a constant rotation of music—from 60’s soul to modern funk—and requests are welcome.