Where else but in Tokyo could you find two Beatles-themed bars just down the road from one-another? Featuring Japanese look-a-like Beatles cover bands, the embers of original Beatlemania still burn bright almost nightly at Abbey Road. With a cover and two-drink minimum, this is not a cheap night out, but then again, when will you ever get another chance to catch the Fab Four? Never. So, while it may seem like a kitsch thing to do, these musicians, as well as the venue staff and owner, are serious about keeping the mop-tops' tunes alive and kicking. Eat, drink, scream, shake, rattle, and roll to all your favorites and all the classics!
Tucked into Shinjuku's Golden Gai bar district is the famous La Jetee. The bar is tiny, with movie posters covering the walls, and is a popular hangout for journalists, photographers, and filmmakers. Francis Ford Coppola, Juliet Binoche, Wim Wenders, and Chris Marke, director of La Jettee, the 1962 film after which the bar was named, have all frequented this unique gem, which pays homage to French cinema. There is a reasonably priced food and drink menu, which when combined with the interesting company you will meet should equal a memorable night.
This bar doesn't seem like much of an establishment from the inside. Soon after settling down, however, customers will quickly see that the secret concoction lies in the owner's wacky behavior. From a visual interpretation of the drink menu to foreign service adaptations, Mark Kagaya, the owner, delivers a healthy serving of laughs and bizarre entertainment that is unlike anything most people have ever witnessed at a bar. Always playing the hospitable host, Mark may even break out some equally interesting games and karaoke to keep the atmosphere fun, but beware of prank beer mugs and full-sized frog costumes! Though usually closed on Sundays, appointments can be requested.
Unit is a great place to spend the night. You can start in the lounge area, grabbing a bite or a drink, then catch a live show, either local or with solid international talent. Afterwards, you can groove to some of Tokyo's and the world's best DJs. Made up of various spaces of varying sizes, Unit really is a good bet on most nights. While not the biggest club in Tokyo by a long shot, what Unit lacks in size it more than makes up for in high quality. Unit knows what it's doing across the board, from indie, to reggae and beyond-and frankly, you could do a lot worse than just popping in to 'have a look-see'.
As the name suggests, this bar is devoted to the music of another era, the 1970s. Located near the northern entrance to Chinatown, it has thousands of tracks, Japanese as well as British and American artists, by all the big stars and most of the minor ones as well. The facade looks like a shop from Carnaby Street of London in the 1960s. Inside, there is seating for 36 at tables and the counter in relative comfort. The menu is predominantly American with such bar favorites as tacos, pizza and burgers. They also do an interesting line of cocktails based on peach liquor.
Founded and headed by New York-based mixologist Gen Yamamoto, this eponymous bar is a cutting-edge cocktail bar located in Azabu-Juban. His unique cocktails reflect the use of Japanese seasonal fruits and vegetables, bringing forth an explosion of flavors in a single glass. The eight-seater format of this bar requires one to reserve a seat here beforehand, if you want to taste cocktails oozing with ingenuity.
A funky spot located in Tokyo's bustling hub of Shinjuku, The Lockup is where horrific nuances manifest themselves in the form of food presented in an unnerving manner as you sit handcuffed to your tables in anticipation. Contrary to the dreary and macabre interior adorned in grotesque decor, the restaurant and bar features some incredibly savory food items cooked to perfection. You can pair these with your choice of ingeniously concocted cocktails served in syringes and test-tubes. Taking elements of horror to the next level, this quirky establishment has earned the reputation of being one of the most riveting themed-restaurants in the city, and it should definitely be on your itinerary if you are a horror and mystery buff!
The Japanese concept of wa embodies harmony, gentleness and peace. Forget about it at Koreatown's Wa Bar! Wa Bar is the farthest thing from any of those concepts. The din of Korean pop music grows as you descend step by step into its cozy cavern of controlled chaos. Sporting a quasi-western motif with rifles on the walls, horseshoe ashtrays and wanted posters, the attractive staff are fun and friendly. As Korean pop music videos dance across the walls, everyone it seems is drinking up and having a good time. Drinks start at JPY600, and there is a light menu of traditional, street food to order from. So, if you are up for some cacophony Korean-style, literally drop into Wa Bar. -Stephen Lebovits