Entertainment in Tokyo

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Ryōgoku Kokugikan

    If you’re in town when a tournament is on, don't miss the chance to catch the big boys of Japanese wrestling in action at the country's largest sumo stadium. The main spectacle starts 3.40pm when the makuuchi (top division) wrestlers parade into the ring. Advanced tickets must be purchased through Ticket Oosumo (http://sumo.pia.jp/en), up to five weeks before the start of the tournament.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Kabukiza

    The flamboyant facade of this venerable theatre is fitting for the extravagant dramatic flourishes that are integral to the traditional performing art of kabuki. Check the website for performance details and to book tickets; you'll also find an explanation about cheaper one-act, day seats.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    National Theatre

    Japan's most important theatre for traditional performing arts stages kabuki, gagaku (music of the imperial court), kyōmai (Kyoto-style traditional dance), bunraku (classic puppet theatre) and more. Visit the website to see the schedule and purchase tickets. Premium tickets can cost over ¥10,000, while the cheap seats are indeed cheap (from ¥1800); student concessions available.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Shinjuku Pit Inn

    This is Tokyo's best jazz spot: intimate, unpretentious and with an always solid line-up of influential, avant-garde, crossover and up-and-coming musicians from Japan and abroad. If you're already a fan of jazz, you'll want to make a point to visit it; if you're not, Pit Inn is the kind of place that just might win you over.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Ebisu, Meguro & Around

    Unit

    This subterranean club stages live music and DJ-hosted events (sometimes staggered on the same night). The solid line-up includes Japanese indie bands, veterans playing to a smaller crowd and overseas artists making their Japan debut. Unit has high ceilings and an intentionally industrial-cool interior (in addition to excellent sound), separating it from Tokyo's grungier live-music spots. Ticket prices vary.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Tokyo Dome

    Tokyo Dome (aka ‘The Big Egg’) is home to the Yomiuri Giants. Love ’em or hate ’em, they're the most consistently successful team in Japanese baseball. Tickets usually sell out in advance; get them early at www.giants.jp/en/ticket.

  • Entertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    New National Theatre

    This is Tokyo’s premier public performing-arts centre, with state-of-the-art stages for drama, opera and dance. The plays are in Japanese and the operas and ballets are usually visiting international productions; however, Japanese contemporary dance performances are staged here a few times a year.

  • Entertainment in Ueno & Yanesen

    Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Ballet both make regular appearances at this Ueno-kōen landmark, designed by Maekawa Kunio, an apprentice of Le Corbusier. Prices vary wildly; look out for morning classical-music performances that cost just ¥550 to ¥1100. Purchase tickets online or at the box office. The auditorium has cloud-shaped acoustic panels that sound as gorgeous as they look.

  • Entertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Robot Restaurant

    This Kabukichō spectacle has hit it big with its vision of 'wacky Japan': bikini-clad women ride around on giant robots against a backdrop of animated screens and enough LED lights to illuminate all of Shinjuku. The 90-minute shows are held at 3.30pm, 5.30pm, 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Book online for a ¥1000 discount; discount flyers can often be found at tourist spots.

  • Entertainment in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Suigian

    This chic lounge stages short acts (40 minutes) of traditional Japanese performing arts, including nō, kagura (sacred dance) and Kyo-mai (Kyoto-style traditional dance). While likely designed with international visitors in mind, the performers all belong to well-established schools. Shows are held nightly at 7pm (entrance from 5pm) and additionally at 11.15am and 1.45pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

  • Entertainment in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Arashio Stable

    Sumo wrestlers live and practice in a heya (somewhat weirdly translated as 'stable'). Only some allow visitors to watch keiko (practice) and then admission is usually limited to official fan club members. Arashio-beya is unusually open: anyone can watch through the street side window – which offers an incredible close-up view – between 7.30am and 10am. See the website before visiting.

  • Entertainment in Harajuku & Aoyama

    Jingū Baseball Stadium

    Jingū Baseball Stadium, built in 1926, is home to the Yakult Swallows, Tokyo’s number-two team (but number-one when it comes to fan loyalty; Swallows fans are famous for their 7th inning stretch routine). Get tickets from the booth next to Gate 9, open from 11am to 5pm (or until 20 minutes after a game ends), or online at www.yakult-swallows.co.jp/en.

  • Entertainment in West Tokyo

    UFO Club

    Named for the infamous 1960s London spot, Kōenji's UFO Club is committed to keeping the spirit of the era alive: the small basement space, with red-and-black swirling walls, feels like the inside of a lava lamp. Music-wise, expect psychedelic and acid rock from mostly local bands, but really anything goes so long as it's a bit weird.

  • Entertainment in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    P.A.R.M.S

    The girl group Kamen Joshi – singing and dancing young women wearing cute outfits and full-face hockey masks – is all the rage at this live-music show in the Pasela Resort's karaoke emporium. It's a thoroughly Akiba night out, with several girl groups performing and diehard fans dancing in sync with coloured lightsabres.

  • Entertainment in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre

    If you love camp, this is for you. The all-female Takarazuka revue, going back to 1914, stages highly stylised musicals in Japanese (English synopses are available) where a mostly female audience swoons over actors, some of whom are in drag.

  • Entertainment in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Nippon Budōkan

    The 14,000-plus-seat Budōkan was originally built for the judo competition of the 1964 Olympics ( budō means 'martial arts') and will be pressed into service again for the 2020 event. Martial-arts practice and contests are still held here, but the Budōkan is better known as a concert hall: lots of big names, from the Beatles to Beck, have played here.

  • Entertainment in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Kazunoya Oiwake

    Oiwake is one of Tokyo's few remaining minyō izakaya, pubs where traditional folk music is performed. It's a small, cosy place, where the waitstaff and the musicians – who play shamisen (a banjo-like instrument), hand drums and bamboo flute – are often one and the same. Sets start at 7pm and 9pm; children are welcome for the early show.

  • Entertainment in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills

    One of Tokyo's nicest and biggest cinemas (it has nine screens, some with 3D and 4D capability), Toho's Roppongi Hills theatre screens all the latest domestic and international blockbusters – and ocassionally popular Japanese new releases with English subtitles. The 3D and 4D screenings cost extra.

  • Entertainment in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    AKB48 Theatre

    Not as red-hot as they once were, this J-pop phenomenon girl group of 60 rotating members continues to perform in shifts at its very own workhouse…er…theatre in the heart of Akihabara. Tickets for shows are awarded by lottery – see the website for further details.

  • Entertainment in Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Uplink

    Watching indies here feels a bit like hanging out in a friend's basement; with just 40 comfy, mismatched seats, Uplink is officially Tokyo's smallest theatre. Uplink screens artsy domestic and foreign films (subtitled in Japanese). On weekdays students pay just ¥1100.