What to do in Tokyo after work while visiting?
March 16, 2015 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm on a business trip in Tokyo for the rest of this week. I'm looking for suggestions on things to do after work hours (i.e., most of the usual sightseeing is out), probably alone.

I can get off work around 7pm or so. My co-workers don't seem to go out much after work (families, or get in late/work late types), so I haven't had many opportunities to tag along with them. I got in a lot of bar-hopping over the last weekend, and so would be especially interested in things that aren't bars. (But if there's e.g. a cocktail bar or other unique experience that you recommend, I'm interested.) Eating out alone in a foreign country is honestly somewhat stressful, and I get free dinner at work, so that category is also less interesting.

I was kind of thinking of things like: favorite coffee shops to sit and read/study in, places to people-watch, cool stores to browse, good views (open late... SkyTree maybe?)... But mostly would love anything that gets me out of the work/hotel/work/hotel/... cycle
posted by Jacen Solo to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite memories of Tokyo were the Onsen (hot pools), and my favorite Onsen was the pleasantly kitschy Ooedo Onsen Monogatari - - it would be my first choice for an evening after work.
posted by fairmettle at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Walk around in Ueno park.
posted by mai at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2015

The new Space Museum TenQ in Tokyo Dome City is open until 9 PM every night and well worth a visit if you're into space and/or technology.
posted by Gortuk at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2015

You could go visit the Gundam statue over in Odaiba.

My favorite stores to just randomly browse are Tokyu Hands and Loft. There are branches all around town, and maybe someone else can recommend the best ones. They're just full of all sorts of things from bento boxes to craft supplies to weird shower devices to all the pens and stationery you could hope for.
posted by that girl at 8:59 AM on March 16, 2015

I'm not qualified to recommend a place since I've never been but I saw a video feature about this book/music/DVD store and it sounded like heaven on earth for a book lover like me.

posted by AuroraSky at 9:19 AM on March 16, 2015

Go to Shibuya by night to gawk at the displays. Then you can have a coffee at the Starbucks while you watch people cross the traffic lights. There's a Tokyu Hands nearby, as that girl suggests, too.
posted by sukeban at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2015

Oh, and another great place to be at night is the towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (near Shinjuku station). They've got free observation decks from which you can watch the Shinjuku high rises.
posted by sukeban at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2015

When I visit the greater Tokyo area I've scheduled a couple of meetups with the Tokyo metafilter crowd, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a nicer bunch of people. Those meetups have suggested lots of "you should try this and here's why", or "what are you doing tomorrow, I'm doing X and you're welcome to join me".
posted by Runes at 3:44 PM on March 16, 2015

The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi is open until 10pm most nights and comes with a terrific nighttime view.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:33 PM on March 16, 2015

Howdy, and welcome to Tokyo! I've got a list of some good stuff you can do, but helpful things to know when recommending stuff are:

1. Where are you in Tokyo? What's your closest station?
2. Do you speak or read Japanese?
3. What are you interested in? Manga, tea, model trains - anything helps, there's probably a shop dedicated to it.

Shibuya Station & surroundings: People watching at the station crossing here is great, and wandering around down Center Street (pedestrian street directly diagonal across the big intersection) you'll find something to do. Drop in the Sega Arcade and use the urinal in the basement or play a crane game, or go into the Village Vanguard bookstore/novelty shop at the same corner. After you're done around there walk straight down Center Street until you get away from the busy part and pop into any little lit-up bar. If you come to a residential part feel free to keep walking, as there's always bars a little further on the same street.

Hoshino Coffee: someone mentioned the Starbucks before - I wouldn't recommend it since counter seats tend to be full and the tables only have high, uncomfortable chairs. Hoshino coffee is just on a different corner of the same intersection, also on the second floor, and more likely to have seats with a view open. The coffee's pretty good too.

Cafe Lion: A classical music cafe with a custom sound setup from the 30s or so, conversation is discouraged and photography inside is prohibited; map here. It feels like a run-down church and is just the thing for a quiet place to read, I go once or twice a week. I think the menu's in Japanese, but just ask for a coffee or cocoa. (Directions: From the big Shibuya crossing, look at the main 109 store and go up the hill to its left. Turn right at the Hyakkendana arch (labeled in English) and walk up the hill, keeping straight as possible, and look for a big green sign. It's a seedy area but Lion's not too far back.)

Dagashi Bar: There's one in Ebisu and one in Ikebukuro; I've only been to the one in Ikebukuro but they're both probably fine. Dagashi means "crappy snacks"; originally it was a term for products not using refined sugar but eventually it meant small treats sold to children from stalls. The bar has all-you-can-eat dagashi in a self-serve format and is set up like an old shop. If the idea of eating a lot of processed snacks horrifies you this is not a good idea, but it's a lot of fun if you're open to it. Be sure to ask for Fugashi and Kurobou - they're not usually out but the staff will bring them if you ask (when I went some staff had never heard of Kurobou though, so show them the picture).

Golden Gai: Two blocks of tiny, tight-packed bars near Shinjuku. Typically they'll seat about five people, have a cover charge of 500 yen, and have some kind of theme. This is harder to enjoy on your own if you're going to hang out and drink and don't speak Japanese, but it's still fun to walk down. Also check the similar but more food-oriented Omoide Yokochou by the Shinjuku Station West Exit.

Shimokitazawa & Warugaki Salon: Just one stop from Shibuya on the express, Shimokitazawa is where I tell people hipsters live. Lots of stores near the station close early, but there's a really good Village Vanguard that's open until midnight. People watching around the station is fun, as is walking around even if most of the stores have closed. Keep an eye out for the nattou vending machine. I've also been meaning to go to the Kinema Club, though I haven't been yet.

When you're done near the station, head north (map) for the Warugaki Salon, a late-night Dagashi store. If you speak Japanese they will help you bet on horses if you like; otherwise you can just buy a few pieces of candy for 50 yen and stroll around.

Inokashira Park: Kichijouji is out west and a bit far if you're not already on that side of town, but there's lots of restaurants open late - check Harmonica Yokochou near the station. The main attraction for night would be the park, which has a big lake, doesn't close, and also doesn't attract indiscreet couples as much as some Tokyo parks.

If you'd like any more information about the above, or have anything specific you'd like to see give me a heads-up.
posted by 23 at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh, I would also normally tell you to go see a show by flapjax, but it looks like he's not doing one this week.
posted by 23 at 8:49 PM on March 16, 2015

Forgot Vow's Bar in Nakano, a bar run by a monk. I think he speaks English, and he's friendly with the anime song bar downstairs, which is usually a pretty lively place. Nakano is a lot of fun but most of the main attractions are closed by 7PM.
posted by 23 at 8:58 PM on March 16, 2015

The Skytree is open until 10PM according to their website. From there, it's a fairly short walk over to Senso-ji in Asakusa, which is lit up until 11.

Also, the Mori Art Museum and observation deck appear to be closed for renovation through April.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:52 PM on March 16, 2015

Response by poster: These are wonderful answers, everyone! Thank you so much! Exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. Afraid to mark "bests" since I'd just end up marking everything.
posted by Jacen Solo at 4:57 AM on March 18, 2015

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