If you’re in Tokyo and in the mood to listen to some cool, soothing jazz, you don’t have to look far. There’s a wide array of jazz bars all over the city to suit your mood, tastes and budget. So let’s get the music started!
Pres Jazz Bar – A Must-Visit when in Shibuya
While Center Gai near Shibuya station is more well-known for its nightclubs and bars popular among youth, it’s the least likely place for a jazz bar. Pres Jazz Bar, named after saxophone musician Lester Young, is located near the end of Center Gai, which had formerly been home to several jazz bars that are now unfortunately gone.
The inside is dark and moody, but you can make out lifelike murals on the walls of jazz musicians. Unlike the surrounding clubs and bars where you can barely hear your voice over the blaring stereos, the music at Pres is low, allowing patrons to relax in a calming atmosphere.
Pres Jazz Bar Pres Jazz Bar
- Address 30-4 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042
When it comes to Jazz, there is none other like Blue Note Tokyo
For a chance to see a live show by a world famous act, Blue Note in Minami Aoyama is the place to go. The club, which was opened in November 1988 is by far Tokyo’s most famous jazz club. Past acts include legendary musicians such as Tony Bennett and Sly Stone.
While the food and the atmosphere are top-notch, expect to pay just as much for the experience. Tickets are minimum JPY 7,000 to 8,000. Students can take advantage of a 50% discount off the music charge by calling ahead and inquiring about the student plan.
BLUE NOTE TOKYO ブルーノート東京
- Address 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 6-3-16 ライカビル
- Phone Number 03-5485-0088
The Room - A Jazz bar where you can Show Off your Dance Moves!
Although The Room is less than a five minute walk from Shibuya Station, the club is hard to find since it is hidden in the basement of a nondescript building. Just look for the red lantern if you get lost. In addition to jazz, The Room plays other genres such as disco, house and funk.
The Room is best for those who prefer to stay away from the mainstream, high-end clubbing experience in Tokyo for something less pretentious. In addition, half of the bar is a dance floor and attracts a down-to-earth crowd that allows you to dance without any judgment.
The Room The Room
- Address Daihachi-Toto Bld. B1 15-19 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuyaku Tokyo, Japan 150-0031
Showa-era Culture Infused with Jazz at Jazz Bar Samurai
Located just a two minute walk away from the East South Exit of Shinjuku Station, Jazz Bar Samurai has an interior that is just as unique as its name. There are so many mysteries in this bar. Outside a 5-foot manekineko, a white cat figurine which signifies good luck, greets you. Inside more than 3,000 manekineko, all with different facial expressions, decorate the interior.
The place is one of the last in Shinjuku which embraces the underground culture prevalent during the 1960s. Showa-era posters and haiku decorate the walls, and there are also live improvised haiku reading, setting it apart from other jazz joints in the city.
Jazz Bar Samurai JazzBarサムライ
- Address 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−35−5, 守ビル5F
- Phone Number 03-3341-0383
Hit up the Pit Inn while in Shinjuku
For die-hard jazz fans, Pit Inn, located in Shinjuku, is the best place to go. The venue is organized in a way that all the seats face the stage and attracts a serious audience who come purely to enjoy the music.
The best part about Pit Inn is that the venue is that unlike many jazz clubs and bars, the place is open from 2 PM, which makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon. In addition, Pit Inn features relatively unknown jazz musicians who are still trying to make an imprint on the local jazz scene. With one drink included, the daytime shows range from JPY 1,300 to JPY 2,500 while the evening show starts from JPY 3,000.
Shinjuku Pit Inn 新宿ピットイン
- Address 2-12-4 ACCORD BLDG. B1 Shinjuku shinjuku-ku Tokyo JAPAN 〒160-0022
- Phone Number 03-3354-2024
Get Cozy at Jazz Spot Intro
A 2 minute walk from Takadanobaba Station, Jazz Spot Intro is located in a tiny, but home-like basement. Unlike other jazz bars which brings in musicians to play live every night, Intro sets itself apart from the frequent jam sessions it throws, which includes amateurs as well as professionals. In addition to jam session from Tuesday to Thursday, they have a jam session on Saturday that runs until the morning.
On nights when there are no jam sessions, the club has hundreds of vinyl records and CDs to play from, so you can guarantee that you can request a song that suits your mood while you’re there enjoying a drink.
Jazz Spot Intro Jazz Spot Intro
- Address 2 Chome-14-8 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 169-0075
- Phone Number 03-3200-4396
Listen 'til your heart’s content
As you can see, there are a wide variety of jazz bars in Tokyo to choose from. Whether you want to pay a little extra for a shows played by musicians from all over the world, or prefer to listen to someone less well known, or want to dust off your saxophone and play yourself, there is a jazz bar out there for you.
Which club suits your interests best? Have any recommendations or feedback? Make sure to hit us up on Twitter (@LiveJapanGuide) or on Facebook to let us know.