Shibuya is best known as a shopping and entertainment hub, but it has its fair share of bars and nightlife, too. Check out Culture Trip’s pick of the best bars in the area.
Ishinohana is owned and operated by award-winning mixologist Shinobu Ishigaki. The bar itself is upscale yet relaxed – a vibe that is humorously reflected on the website, “no shots, no cigars, no baseball caps”. Many of the cocktails are the owner’s original creations and won’t be found anywhere else in the city. Note that there is a minimum order per person of one food option or one drink, as well as a 500 yen (£3.30) cover charge.
To immerse yourself in the world of sake, try Tsubo no Naka, a standing bar that will give you the most bang for your buck in Shibuya. It boasts more than 70 sake varieties from all over Japan, all of which you can try for a flat free-flow fee of 3,000 yen (approx. £20; more on music event nights). No food is served, but you’re welcome to bring your own snacks – as long as they’re not too pungent.
A must for visiting heavy music fans, Rockaholic is a Western and Japanese rock and metal haven just a stone’s throw away from some of the best underground live music houses in Shibuya. With weekly-themed music nights and guest DJ sets featuring some of Japan’s greatest up-and-coming alternative artists, Rockaholic is the place to rub shoulders with Tokyo’s next big thing.
Gen & Material is devoted to the oft-forgotten siblings of sake, shochu (a distilled liquor usually made using sweet potato, rice or barley) and umeshu (plum wine). With almost 6,000 shochu varieties and more than 1,200 types of umeshu available to order, this bar is a great place to dip your toe into the world of Japanese spirits – or submerge yourself in it completely.
Have a night out with a difference at MINT, a small, cosy bar dedicated to trading and playing card games. From taking part in a round of the collectable “Magic: The Gathering” card game to swapping the latest baseball cards, this is a great bar in Tokyo for a change of pace. MINT boasts a selection of unique card-themed cocktails as well as a fair range of beers, and there’s also a shop section, perfect for anyone looking to add to their card deck. MINT usually closes early at around 11pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends and public holidays.
With the ever-growing popularity of Japanese whiskey, it would be remiss to leave a whiskey joint out of a list of the best bars in Shibuya. Relatively new on the scene, Mi Casita, which opened in 2016, is a charming nook with an impressive selection of Japanese and American whiskey, as well as scotch and brandy. For 6,000 yen (£41) an hour, visitors can enjoy a free-flow of some of the best whiskies available (with extra charges for vintage liquors). The exclusive whiskey bar seats only six people, so reservations are recommended.
One of three locations in Tokyo, Shibuya’s Sakeba Sake Bar is a small, intimate space that allows you to sample the drink as it’s supposed to be enjoyed – paired carefully with food. Let the staff know your preferences and they will whip up the best sake and food matching your tastes. The drink selection on hand is a range of premium junmai sake (sake that only uses rice, water, yeast and koji as its ingredients), directly delivered from breweries across Japan.
For whiskey, cocktails and a hearty musical serving of golden oldies, head to Nightfly, which lies a couple of blocks away from popular shopping centre Tokyu Hands. The intimate bar has a laid-back, retro feel and even boasts an old-school mirror ball hanging from the ceiling. The back wall is lined with vinyl from the 1970s to the 1990s and bar owner Miki plays a selection of music from almost any genre available. It’s the perfect place in Shibuya to spend the night waxing nostalgic, as it’s open until 5am.
This is an updated of a story created by Alicia Joy.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
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