Primarily the reason for going back to Korea was to party for a longer period. While living in Japan, I only went to two new places but heard about a lot that I’ll need to revisit. I discovered old and new places to recommend people to go to this time so this list will help a little. Some places recommended for Korea do close down, move locations or change their name so don’t refer to Google for directions but Naver instead.
Garam was written about before but it’s a reggae/dancehall bar in Shinjuku and incredibly small. The reggae/dancehall scene has been a thing for the past 20-30 years and is steadily still an underground scene that’s going on till this day. I went there to see what it was like. I was told though it’s better to find bars and parties in Yokohama next time for a better experience there.
Thursday Party is a chain all around Korea. The most popular one is near the Hongdae Playground. The other ones I’ve been to is Haeundae Beach, Itaewon and the other Hongdae one near Brand Nu Club. It’s interesting how in two years how popular the drink AMF has gotten. In 2015, hardly anyone bought it but it seems this year, the sweetness in the drink has increased people to buy more and go to these bars. It’s also popular for it’s beer pong tables.
Zen bar is quite fun when it’s crowded in my opinion. The best days to go to this Hongdae are Friday and Saturday. It’s just near cocoon and Aura. They have shots for reasonable prices as well as snooker tables to play with. It’s a bit of an unusual bar in my opinion but can be quite fun at times especially since there is a random pole in the corner of the bar.
This bar is a little farther than the usual crowd of nightlife places within Hongdae. It’s actually more closer to the Thursday Party near Brand Nu Club. Not as popular as the other bars but they do play good music. I do recommend it as a bar to go towards the end of the night but it is up to you if you prefer a more quieter and less known place to go to.
Situated in Itaewon, Fountain has a really cool look to it and is open roof. It’s probably one of the few bars that has a presence because of the place’s layout. The music ranges but they do play a lot of mainstream pop and Hip-Hop. It’s not really a bar to stay at the entire night but a good one to come to for a few hours.
Harlem is still the best place I’ve ever been to in Tokyo so far.
Whenever I recommend people, I always say Harlem in Shibuya because they tend to play a range of old and new school R&B and Hip Hop as well as Reggae and Dancehall. I had heard about some crazy stories from friends who went there after me but they all agree it was one of the best clubs to go to. It is very popular with foreigners too and situated around a flood of love hotels. Entry fees can range from ¥1000 – ¥3000 depending on the night but there’s always something fun to listen to.
Madholic & nb2
Madholic and nb2 is something I’ll collectively talk about because they are the most popular. nb2 is usually most people’s first club and an easy spot for people to enjoy themselves. Both are in Hongdae for one. Even though both play mainstream Hip-Hop, you end up hearing pop and some other mixtures of EDM thrown in depending on the DJ. I find nb2 to be better in terms of space and more variety of music but Madholic has more mainstream hip hop and it’s very closed but you’re more likely to see rappers there.
Another Itaewon club but this one is as tiny as Cream or Sabotage. However it’s so fun going there even on a Thursday or Friday. It can get way too crowded like Madholic but they play good music and if there isn’t space, there’s not one but two pole bars that you can dance on!
There’s not much to say about this small bar in Hongdae. It’s in between Henz and Madholic. Cream is a decent sized club but they do play good songs there. My friend noticed they had a good deal with shots.
Supposed to be one of the most popular clubs in Itaewon, I find it interesting that the layout of the club has a long bar in the middle with one side being EDM and the other being Hip-Hop. All in the same room. It works though as it can be really fun to go and just jump from one side of the room to hear a different genre.
Sound Museum Vision
Vision (for short) is a very popular club holding performances by Korean artists such as Dean, Loco and DJs. They mainly play EDM but there are some nights when there’s special performances where House, R&B and Hip-hop will play. It’s a two minute walk from the Uniqlo near Shibuya 109 and should be on the other side of the road. Usually when there are artists, online it’s ¥2800 but at the door it’s ¥3500 but on other days it’s
I only really like going to Henz if they have performances because other than that, they don’t really play music that you can dance to. First time I went there for Changmo’s performance, I was promised Grime, Hip-hop and House but in actuality, it was instrumental music (?) This club is only five minutes down the road from nb2. They do get good people to either perform (Changmo) or DJ (DJ Pumpkin, Ugly Duck and DJ Wegum) so it is worth going when acts come.
Everyone knows Octagon and my first time there encourages me to go again next time – however only if the Hip-Hop room is open. Octagon is mainly known for EDM but when the Hip-Hop room is open, it can be really entertaining especially if there are performances (I’ve seen Skull there and my friends have seen Sik-k there). Don’t bother buying drinks there unless you know someone with money and instead pre-drink or you’ll be looking at spending from ₩10,000 on a shot to ₩100,000 for champagne.
Honourable Mentions (and to Avoid)
I was also told Ghost in Amerimura, Osaka was good. Maybe if I spend more time in Kansai and even other parts of Japan next time, I’ll be able to tell you about more places. Club Avenue is a place I need to revisit as it’s previous name was Club Answer. However, a new name has led the club to play more Hip-Hop apparently as more rappers go there. Coccoon is ok – if you can get in for free. If you like EDM you’ll like it there.
I was told by my friend to avoid Aura because it’s boring so I wouldn’t go if I was you. Arena is supposed to be EDM and Hip Hop but the problem is entry. You won’t get in if you aren’t the bouncer’s type which is incredibly bias and nothing you can do. I was stopped, asked if I had a table and then brushed to the left which means that you are not allowed entry. Sometimes you can get in and sometimes you don’t. I do not think it is worth the risk however.