Roppongi: Tokyo's Premier Night Spot


If you're looking for a night out on the town the famous entertainment hub of Tokyo known as Roppongi is a must see. Though the origin of the name is unknown, the word Roppongi literally means “six trees”, and legend has it the term derives from six warlords that resided in the region during the Edo period. The inception of Roppongi as a nexus of nightlife in Tokyo originated in 1890 when the Imperial Japanese Army took up residence there. With the devastating effect of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 taking it's toll, the area was temporarily destroyed, rebuilt, and leveled again by American bombs during World War Two. With the emergence of several military bases in the district during the occupation by American forces, the locale soon teemed with western oriented shops, restaurants, and hostess bars that catered to soldiers hungry for entertainment and female companionship. The late1960's saw Roppongi becoming popular with Japanese and foreigners alike when disco first made its appearance, the area attracting many of Tokyo's famous entertainers and movie stars. Several embassies and foreign corporate offices located there also contributed to the international feel that prevails today.

Any given night in Roppongi still finds a high concentration of military and assorted foreigners intermingling with Japanese businessmen and attractive young women of various nationalities swaying provocatively down the street as they make their way to strip clubs and hostess bars that line the boulevards. The sidewalks resonate with the cadence of club hawker's voices and alluring come-ons of scantily dressed women beckoning seductively from doorways leading to the plethora of parlors that offer “massage” and additional carnal pleasures. As you traverse the maze of gleaming neon you find yourself enmeshed in an aura of sexual anticipation that lingers enticingly in the air. Small groups of buff young men or magazine cover perfect couples strolling arm in arm scurry by to destinations that offer the hippest scenes in Tokyo. Inside the most fashionable “gaijin” bars patrons eagerly pack into a space the size of a large elevator, the smoke of a multitude of cigarettes forming a spectral haze that permeates the room. Music blares from strategically placed speakers as men and women pose with studied casualness, their eyes scanning the crowd for the promise of that special someone to share a drink with, or possibly more.

If you're seeking a more traditional approach to whiling away an afternoon or evening, the recent addition of “Roppongi Hills” shopping and entertainment development is sure to provide what you desire. Opening with much fanfare in Roppongi in 2003, this mega-complex located on a 27 acre site incorporates restaurants, shops, movie theaters, cafes, a museum, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, hotels, and an assortment of parks, all of which are centered around the 53 story Mori Tower.

Jim Sherard is the author of "Land of the Rising Sun, A Guide to Living and Working in Japan", which can be found at: