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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.