Though it can often be overlooked, Tokyo is a city that loves live music. With more venues than you can count crammed into every corner of the permanently buzzing city, it has a home for every strange and wonderful genre niche. If hip hop is what you’re in the mood for, you’ll find a lively scene, thanks in large part to designer Hiroshi Fujiwara. Here’s a guide to some of the best hip hop hangouts in the area.
When it comes to serious hip hop partying, Harlem is your failsafe option. Since opening 20 years ago, it’s become an icon on the Tokyo clubbing scene and a great places to hear and see both local and international artists. Boasting an impressive one hundred and sixty thousand visitors throughout the year, it’s the club’s ability to keep it fresh and actively expose the city’s true and pure love of hip hop that’s kept this club pumping since it inception in 1997. Even if you’re not a massive hip hop fanatic but you love to dance, Harlem is the place for you.
2 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 3461 8806
Club Bed, Ikebukuro
A little more out of the way than Harlem, Club Bed is worth the trek from Tokyo’s central nightlife district if you want to experience local hip hop. Located about 20 minutes by the JR Yamanote line from Shibuya, Ikebukuro is another major Tokyo hub in its own right so it makes sense that it has its own hip hop hotspot. As you descend down the stairs of this underground venue you’ll be greeted with a photo montage of smiling faces enjoying their evenings at the club, so you know you’re in for a good time.
171-0021 Tokyo, Toshima, Nishiikebukuro, 3 Chome-29-9, +81 3 3981 5300
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Though this is technically a party rather than a club, the team at Bae Tokyo not only bring international hip hop stars to town, but they also give some of the most exciting new names in hip hop time in the spotlight too with their carefully curated line ups. Built as a platform for female acts to get more exposure within the local hip-hop scene, they’ve become a party powerhouse. Generally taking place once a month, a Bae Tokyo party is a one you don’t want to miss.
Sound Museum Vision, Shibuya
Opening in 2011, Sound Museum Vision – or more commonly known simply as ‘Vision’ – has become one of the biggest players on the Tokyo club scene. Thanks to their diverse line ups and incredible sound system, the team behind this Shibuya icon see swarms of visitors flood the massive main dance floor almost every night of the week. Though they play a lot more than just hip hop, their main stage has been home to a number of local and touring hip hop acts and their smaller rooms regularly boast a rotating cast of hip hop influenced DJs, so it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Shin Oji Bill B1F, 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 5728 2824
Yoyogi park, Harajuku
Though this may seem like an odd addition in this list, Yoyogi Park in Harajuku is actually a great place to discover some of the city’s up and coming hip hop talent. Given that Harajuku is the unofficial hip hop centre of Tokyo, many hopeful and aspiring rappers, DJs, and beat boxers regularly set up stage in the lush surroundings of Yoyogi Park. One act you can’t miss is Ill Effects, a hip hop and electro DJ and local icon, whose portable stage is complete with a sound-system. Popping up in the park throwing impromptu park parties, Ill Effects and his crew of loyal followers make Yoyogi their own nightclub, pumping blistering party tunes and freestyle rapping until the police inevitably show up.
2-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō, +81 3-3469-6081
Ageha, Shin Kiba
The biggest club in Tokyo, Ageha, opened in 2002, becoming a must visit party destination for anyone rolling through Tokyo. Home to three separate stages, an outdoor area and a pool (no, you can’t swim in it) the half hour complimentary bus journey from Shibuya out to the Shin Kiba location is definitely worth it, if only to say you went there. Though they host the biggest DJs in the world, one of the best reasons to check out AgeHa is for their MC battle events. Running semi-regularly you can catch some of Japan’s most ferocious talent go at it freestyle for 3,000 yen ($30). Though you might not know what they’re saying if you don’t speak Japanese, the energy is just simply infectious.
2 Chome-2-10 Shinkiba, Koto, Tokyo 136-0082, Japan, +81 3 5534 1515
Though it’s typically known as a place to see indie and rock, Liquid Room in Ebisu is also an excellent hip hop venue. If it’s international touring acts you’re after, chasing chances are they’ll make an appearance at this stylish venue. Thanks to its quality sound system and hardworking booker, it’s become a local favourite for many big names like Japanese hip hop legend KOHH and US controversy starter Tyler the Creator.
150-0011 Tokyo, Shibuya, Higashi, 3−16−6, +81 3 5464 0800