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Late-Night Hookups in Tokyo: The Ultimate Guide

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Strange things happen in the Big Mikan’s witching hours, when the sober, family-oriented, and conservative wardens of civilized society are tucked happily in their futons and dreaming of short excursions to the safe, Japan-approved getaways of Hawaii and Guam.

The changing of the guard occurs frantically around midnight, hordes of belching salarymen trying to hold the beer and gyoza down while mashing onto the crowded final Yamanote line train.

The trains inbound from the outskirts of Tokyo, by comparison, are far more peaceful – empty, even.

I can’t say I haven’t taken a brief nap on the overhead luggage rack of an inbound last train to Roppongi before – guilty as charged. But no matter whether you’ve been drinking since 6pm or are just now sallying forth on the last train for a heroic night on the town, there is no doubt that the trains dictate the pace of the night. Everybody living more than a couple stops away from the night time destinations knows they have to either go home around midnight, or stick it out until 5am.

The first and last trains are like tides – both signal a high-water mark of traffic, people, and energy. If you want to meet a partner for the night, it’s crucial to keep this in mind. So what’s the hookup timeline of a late Tokyo night? When and where is the best place to hook up with someone in Tokyo?

11pm – 1 am: The Magic Hour

Okay, so it might be a little more than an hour but the idea is the same. The cities (especially Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, and other major stations) are bright and loud with the sound of laughter and lively conversation as people are emptying into the streets from finished nomikais (drinking parties), dinner dates, social obligations, and some unlucky overtime shifts. Whether their night was a success (drinking with their friends) or a feat of endurance (watching the clock until the boss stops drowning them in shochu and forcing them to listen to rude jokes), the transition to last train usually has people in a good mood.

Shibuya crossing at night

Location 1: The Streets

In the smoking area near the Kabukicho exit of Shinjuku station, near 109 and the scramble crossing in Shibuya, and outside the East and West exits of Ikebukuro station, you’ll see the nanpa-shi (pickup guys), standing guard with their standardized uniform – gelled hair, man purse, loafers, and phone in hand – eyeing women from their sentry posts along the main pedestrian thoroughfares.

If you’re a girl looking for a hook-up, it can be as easy as walking slowly past these areas by yourself and making eye contact with these guys. Then, when they approach simply smile and demurely mention you’ve missed your last train.

If you’re a guy – it won’t be as easy, but the existence of such nanpa-shi illustrate that it’s neither strange nor culturally insensitive to talk to strangers on the street – in fact, it is very much a part of Japanese culture. During this “Magic Hour” probably the single best place to meet women is on the street near the station. Keep in mind that as groups splinter off heading to different train lines, you generally have only until the ticket gates to make a good impression before she enters the station. Within the first minute or two you want to communicate that:

  1. You are a normal person.
  2. You want to hang out in the city tonight.
  3. She should join you.

While many of the Japanese nanpa-shi will offer short, rapid-fire invitations to girls with low probability of success, you can easily outperform them by adjusting your game to be a bit more human and less robotic and shady.

Forget canned pickup “lines” or strange techniques and routines, and stay away like the plague from any ideas you might have about “tricking” the girl into sex – the best approach is a simple one. Walk up to her. Talk to her normally. Mention whatever it was you were just doing – eating with friends, drinking, etc. Mention something you’d like to do tonight (your agenda!). Invite her to join you. Ideally, by the time you invite her, she’s paying attention to you and engaging with you in conversation. If you’ve been walking, you can gradually slow to a stop now. If she’s enjoying herself in your company (it doesn’t really take that much), she might voluntarily miss her last train or agree to come for “Just one drink.” If it’s after last train time (12:30ish), then most people are out for good. If a woman is by herself, there’s a decent chance she missed her train and now has no plans – perfect opportunity to make a new friend who might just end up becoming more!

Location 2: Smoking Areas / Meeting Areas

In Shibuya, Hachiko is the most famous meeting area. Right next to it, there is a smoking area, and another newer smoking area closer to the koban outside the station exit. This area is great for meeting people who are either taking a break before leaving for home, after arriving, or after missing their last train.

In Shinjuku, these areas are right outside the Kabukicho exit, in front of Alta (with the large TV monitor overhead) next to the fruit shop, and outside the west exit. In Ikebukuro the West and East exit are both good, although the East exit is more younger “normal” crowds, and the West exit tends to be more salarymen and red light crowds (including workers heading to and from their shifts, if that’s your thing).

For people waiting or smoking in these areas, you can simply walk up to them and initiate a conversation. Some might move away wordlessly – this means they are either not interested or waiting for someone – but don’t be disheartened. If you end up talking to one for a while, you want to determine what her/his plans are for the night. If they are waiting for a friend you could either try to get their contact information for another day, or alternatively, try to befriend the friend when they arrive and join the party for a drink!

Location 3: Tsutaya

It’s a reasonably safe bet that anyone looking for DVDs on a Friday or Saturday night has relatively little planned for the night. Perhaps they’re picking a DVD out to watch with their significant other, or perhaps they’re bored out of their minds and wish they had a friend to hang out with and maybe more! There’s only one way to find out – head to your local Tsutaya, GEO, or DVD rental shop and check out the foreign movies section. If someone strikes your fancy, make some casual conversation and you might end up in bed with a sexy new partner.

 

1am – 3am: The Dead of Night

Whereas the Magic Hour was characterized by lots of people either heading to, from, or narrowly missing their trains, the Dead of Night is the opposite – most everybody is indoors somewhere. You might find a few stragglers outside, but by and large, most people have made their ways to a club, karaoke, izakaya, or a bar. Most establishments are open until 5am, and places like Izakaya and Karaoke often have a flat fee for all-you-can-drink / sing / party until 5am.

Location 4: Izakaya

While I don’t recommend going to an izakaya for the sole purpose of hooking up with someone (unless you’re bringing that someone there), if you are already there with friends you might just find a table of friendly people (or a cute girl/guy on the way to the bathroom) who you can meet and share laughs with. If you’re lucky and leave the place together or formulate a good enough connection and reason for them to leave their friends, you might even end up splitting off with your new friend and heading somewhere together. Popular izakaya include:

Watami

Watamin-chi

Doma-Doma

Kinnokura

You could also try your hand at Aiseki-ya (http://www.aiseki-ya.com/ ), a “hook-up izakaya.” The general idea is that the men pay (up to 1800yen per 30 minutes) for all-you-can-drink and food, while the girls drink and eat for free. While this can add up quite a bit for the guys, and there’s no guarantee about the quality of women you might end up paired up at a table with, it might be something to check out. Women especially can have a great time with this – at the worst you get free drinks and food, and at the best you might end up across from a nice young salaryman who, while a little shy, is really quite sweet.

Location 5: Karaoke (カラオケ)

Again, it’s better for sure to “pack your own lunch,” so to speak, by bringing girls/guys you are interested in here rather than trying to meet new people from another room – but it can be done! In all karaoke places there are free soft drinks included with the room, so you can often bump into people from other rooms near the soft drink area or the restrooms and strike up a conversation. You can then pop into their room or invite them into yours for a song or two, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, pull them into the bathroom for some private fun.

The alchohol in karaoke places is watered down and overpriced, so I recommend packing in a bottle of hard liquor and mixing it with the free soft drinks. Just keep it out of sight of the staff and you should be fine. As for tips on actually hooking up IN the karaoke, this is covered a bit later in this post so stay tuned!




Popular Karaoke places:

Neon_lights_flash_in_Kabukicho

Location 6: Bars

Japan isn’t as much of a “bar” culture as most other Western countries are, however there are a few. The best ones are detailed in the Tokyo Nightlife Guide on Amazon.

HUB is probably the most popular and prominent bar, and is known as a hook-up place, even late into the night. It also has a higher concentration of English speakers and girls who like foreigners. Most other bars are small, with table charges and low/unreliable traffic so there are no guarantees of finding someone you like at them.

In Roppongi there are a few bars which cater to the foreigner scene, namely:

R2 – Quite classy, with a heavy mix of foreigners. Drinks here are on the expensive side, from 1200-2000yen. There is live music on occasion as well, and tables with limited food selection. R2 is known for “angels” or “drink-backs” and “pros”. Drink-backs essentially try to take you to a bar of their choosing where they will pressure you to order champagne or buy them drinks. At the end of the night you’ll end up with a much lighter wallet and blue balls. If you sense you are getting taken for a ride, ditch the girl. I recommend not following any girls from this bar to a bar of their choosing – always know a place you can go, and take them to your place, not theirs. Pros simply want cash for their time and action. That said – you CAN find normal girls who like foreigners here, you just have to be cautious.

A971 – Another foreigner-focused bar. This one has fewer pros and drink-backs, but nowhere in Roppongi is totally free of them.

Rigaletto – Rigaletto has a somewhat crowded bar area and a wide open restaurant area. Women come here to meet bankers and businessmen, so if that fits your profile, you might have luck here. Even if that’s not at all you, the women here are more friendly than most venues and you can still end up with a bed partner by the end of the night with a little gift of gab.

Geronimo Shot Bar – Hit or miss. Sometimes has a great crowd, other times not so much.

Location 7: Events / Parties

Tokyo Pub Crawl http://www.tokyopubcrawl.com/ – Usually there are more guys than gals at these events, but the price is reasonable and you get to bounce around a bunch of bars and end up at a club. The sense of camaraderie and variety of venues makes for a fun night as well.

International Parties – These often take place earlier in the night, however some of them happen at clubs and you can stay the whole night, so I’m including them here just in case. While the ratios of guys:girls might be a bit skewed at some, sometimes you can find a nice lady (and if you’re a lady, well the ratio is in your favor!). Entrance usually includes some sort of food buffet and perhaps a drink, or maybe nomihodai (all you can drink). Here are a few to check out:

http://english.gaitomo.com/

http://www.tokyoparty.org/party.php?p=tokyointernationalparty&lang=en

There’s a full break down of events and parties in this book too.

3am – 5am Go Time

Whereas during the dead of night, people are either firmly nestled in their izakayas, karaoke rooms, or just arriving to a club (and therefore want to enjoy themselves, blow off steam, dance, and have fun), around 3am everybody is tired and often just want to rest and/or go home. As such, it becomes “Go Time,” which means (especially in clubs) to try to bring that special girl or guy into a taxi and off to a love-making location. It also means that more people leave the club and head somewhere to wait for the last train – usually a after-hours restaurant. Additionally, this is the hour at which many working girls – especially kyabakura / hostess girls get out of work, so if you either know one or position yourself in the right areas around this time, you might be able to meet one. Needless to say, these are some very attractive women! While the hostess bars are a bit of a trap (expensive, almost always leads nowhere beyond transparent flattery and conversation), meeting such girls outside of their clubs can make for memorable encounters. More on that later.

Location 8: Clubs

Whew, we’ve been through 7 places to meet someone to hook up with and we’re just now getting to clubs! Clubs might not be the best place to meet a future wife, but hey, this is Tokyo Night Owl, not Tokyo Teatime Pheasant, so let’s dig into the club scene in Tokyo – it’s huge! There are already a ton of great articles on TNO about all sorts of clubs and the types of music you can find at each. But since this article is about hooking up, I want to start out by pointing out that there are two main types of clubs, with a spectrum in between them.

  1. Social clubs. These clubs are more like a “scene.” People go here because their friends go here, they know the DJs / bar staff, etc, and the type of music is less EDM and more so a specific sub genre, for example, Drum+Bass or Reggae. Often, the people who go to these clubs ONLY go to these clubs, or follow events around the city at different clubs, such as the Psy-trance crowd going to Mother events and raves in Shizuoka.  At these types of clubs, the best approach is to A.) actually like the music and B.) befriend everybody – girls, guys, staff, grandmothers, etc. The more you seem like someone who is a part of the “scene,” the friendlier everybody will be – including the lovely ladies and gentlemen of the venue who you wish to leave with. Examples: Womb, Harlem, Air, Ageha (depending on the night), etc
  2. Meat market clubs. These clubs generally play top 40 and EDM hits. Think David Guetta, Avicii, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, etc. Most people who go to these types of clubs enjoy the music, but aren’t quite as deeply involved in the music scene as those who go to social clubs. In this type of venue, they key (for men) is to approach, approach, approach.Talk to lots of girls, and move them around the venue. Talk to her for five minutes, then head to the bar for a drink or the dance floor. If there’s a chill area, take her there next and chat a bit more.Moving the girl around creates a “conspiracy of two” and makes it seem as though the two of you are naturally together – which makes it easier when you want to leave with her for some romantic times. Bouncing her around the venue also has the added advantage of not letting the interaction “stall out” due to communication issues or limited ability to hear each other over the loud music. If she gets bored, she’ll likely leave to find her friends again or head to the bathroom. Moving her around and then eventually out of the club will work better (and be a lot more fun) than trying to initiate a long-winded, effusive dialogue with her while jammed in a corner between the Mevius companion girls handing out free cigarettes and the line for the ladies toilet.

For ladies, the strategy is much simpler. Japanese men (assuming that’s who you’re interested in!) aren’t always fans of direct approaches initiated by women so you should stick to dancing, smiling, and appearing approachable.

If you see a particular guy who strikes your fancy you could move to be directly in front of him, and make eye contact occasionally. If he still isn’t taking the bait you could initiate the conversation with something indirect – like “Where is the bar?” or “What’s this song?” If you get in a conversation with a guy and he seems to be a bit slow to pull the trigger you could try saying something subtle like “My legs are tired, I want to sit down somewhere” or “I’m hungry..” and hopefully he’ll get the message.

By and large, the clubs in Roppongi will be a bit more friendly to foreigners. Many clubs in Shibuya can be a bit harsh for foreign guys and Japanese girls might not be into foreigners or at least not want to be seen hanging out with them. Once again, your ability to put her at ease and have a fun interaction mitigates this. Japanese ability and cultural understanding helps loads.

If your main goal is to hook up, I’d recommend going to somewhat friendly meat-market type clubs. Here are a few I’d recommend:

Shibuya

  • Vision
  • T2 (can be difficult, better on weekdays than weekends – when it’s absolutely packed)
  • Harlem (especially for black people!)
  • Gas Panic
  • Womb

Roppongi

  • V2
  • Muse. It used to be said that you “Can’t lose at Muse” if you’re a foreigner, however I think it’s no longer a sure bet as much as it used to be.
  • Ivy. The now defunct super-club Feria hosts events here, and the crowd here is foreigner-friendly, although the venue is a bit small.
  • Ele Tokyo.

The mini-clubs:

LINE, Myst, Greenland. Many (Myst and Greenland) offer all-you-can-drink before 11pm/12pm for guys, and often all-you-can-drink all night for girls. Tokyo Night Owl mentions these in Tokyo’s best budget clubs. The tradeoff is that these clubs are quite small. After 5am however, these are some of the few places where the party continues on (and the entrance is free after 5am) – so if you’re a REALLY late night owl you can continue here.

Location 9: McDonald’s

Laugh if you will. McDonald’s (and other similar fast-food restaurants and family restaurants) in major areas are often full of tired girls and guys just waiting for first train – or for someone fun to come along. Especially late in the night, such restaurants are gold mines for meeting slightly tipsy, yet tired girls and guys who would love nothing more than to rest in a bed (love hotel / your house!). Can you say “opportunity?”

 

Location 10: Ramen

Ingrained in the very fabric of Japanese society is the idea that after a long night of drinking, everybody goes to eat ramen. Not only is this a great way to invite someone to leave the club/bar/venue with you, but it can also be a good place to meet people as well! As you slurp up your tasty tonkotsu ramen and chashu, you might just find a pretty gal or cool guy sitting right next to you.

Location 11: Don Quixote

Don Quixote (for those who don’t know) is a variety store which sells just about everything you could want – sort of like a Walmart which you don’t instantly hate – all jammed into a few dense floors. The fact that it’s open until 5am means a lot of people pass through and around here at all hours of the night – especially the Don Quixotes in Shibuya, Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. Notably, if what I wrote about hostesses piqued your interest, the Okubo Don Quixote sees quite a few pass through after 2-3am. If you meet a suitable gal or guy inside Don Quixote, you’re also just a few steps from some really cheap drinks and snacks. Why not suggest a “snack party” in a nearby hotel? I’d be lying if I said I haven’t found some great late-night hookups in the make-up section and the snacks area.

Location 12: The After-Hours Clubs

While most clubs are only open until 5am, a few after-hours clubs keep the party bumping far into the daylight hours. Jumanji (now Myst) is free after 5am, and often still packed when normal families are drinking their morning miso. Oath is open until 8am on weekends on the Shibuya side of the Aoyama tunnel. Blue Bar doesn’t even really get hot until around 11am. For more early morning suggestions check out this post on Roppongi’s after-hours clubs or read the guide.

 

Where to Get Jiggy Late at Night

So you’ve found yourself some good company, and the laughs and fun are flowing freely and you’d like to take things to the next level. Where can you go if your place is not an option? There are many alternatives.

Love Hotel. There are relatively few in Roppongi (seems like a huge oversight on their part!). In Shinjuku they are located deep past Kabukicho towards Okubo. In Shibuya they are located up “Love Hotel Hill” aka Dogenzaka. Usually by the late hours of the night, many are full so you might have to walk to a few before you find one which has vacancy.

Karaoke. Karaoke rooms often have glass windows in the doors, and a camera in the room as well. However, adventurous types (like myself) simply cover the camera with a jacket and don’t worry about the door! The room is dark anyway.

Manga Cafe. Most manga cafes consist of cubicles with walls which don’t completely separate from the rest of the room. As such, you might want to keep relatively quiet, and a curious customer might peer over the barrier. However, they are quite cheap and have hot coffee, instant ramen, manga, and even showers!

Get creative. A dark stairwell. A park. An alleyway. A rooftop. The options are limited only by your imagination (and modesty). These are all options in which I have personally partaken in Japan. I regret nothing! 🙂

 

Some Japanese Phrases to Help You Hook Up

ちょっと待って –  chotto matte –    Wait a second

飲む・飲もう!-   nomu / nomou – Drink / Let’s drink!

遊ぶ・遊ぼう!  –  asobu / asobou  –  Hangout – hookup / Let’s hangout / hook up (ambiguous — good!)

もう帰る?早いのに  –  mou kaeru? Hayai noni.  –  Are you going home? But it’s still so early!

今日のプランは?  –  kyou no puran wa?  –  Whats your plan tonight?

お酒強い?-  osake tsuyoi? – Are you a strong drinker?

一杯飲もう! –  ippai nomou  –  Lets have a drink!

移動しよう –  idou shiyou – Let’s move (locations)

2次会行こう!-  nijikai ikou – Let’s go to the next party! (Afterparty)

ライン交換しよう  –  LINE koukan shiyou – Let’s exchange LINE contacts

タクシーで行こう – takushi de ikou – Let’s go by taxi

タクろう – takurou (slang) – Let’s go by taxi

ラブホ  –  rabuho – Love hotel

休憩しよう –  kyukei shiyou – Let’s rest (implied – sexy times!)

ゴムある   –  gomu aru – I have a condom (just use rising inflection to change to question)

ピル飲んでる?  –  piru nonderu? –   Are you on the pill?

{You can also nab a free Japanese course here}

Final Thoughts

While people may tell you the Japanese are reserved or asexual, I can tell you that is certainly often not the case – especially if you’re able to slice through to their world and relate to them in a casual and fun way. Don’t expect to come in and just grab up any girl or guy you want simply because you’re different, but you certainly shouldn’t have too much trouble finding someone to hook up with late at night, especially if you head to a few of these sweet spots and take action towards the objects of your affection. Keep the vibe fun and energetic, and don’t get too upset if they aren’t that interested – there are TONS of people in Tokyo and another chance is just around the corner.

Japanese people are rarely explicit about leaving to a hotel or to have sex, but you can be reasonably confident if you leave the club together that the girl/guy will be happy to end up at a hotel if you smooth the path there.

Hope you guys enjoyed this post. Check out my site if you’d like or you can take my course for dating Japanese women.

Cheers!

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