Nightlife in Tokyo by world-renown musician Keiichiro ShibuyaArea Guide
Keiichiro Shibuya thrives on a global scale as a musical artist and producer. From piano solos to orchestras, opera, and computer-generated electronic music, he produces experimental avant-garde music in his unprecedented revolutionary style. In 2018, his “Scary Beauty” - dubbed an “Android Opera” - and a concert in collaboration with “Nanzan Shinryu Shomyo Kenkyujo” ("shoymyo" is a sytle of Buddhist ritual chant) - performed in the United States, gathering attention from all over the world. Today, Keiichiro travels back and forth between Tokyo and Paris. We asked him how he spends his nights out in Tokyo.
-What do you do on an average night out in Tokyo?
Keiichiro (hereafter, K): Actually, I only go out on Saturday nights. Many people assume that I go out every night for drinks and meals, but my weekdays are filled with meetings, etc., so evenings are the only time I have to do music related stuff like composing. If I went out on a weekday night, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. So, in reality, I am so busy while I am in Tokyo that I can’t even go on a date. However, on Saturday, after I make music until 2 am or so, I will go out to enjoy some nightlife. It’s become more enjoyable to go out at night again, so when I return to Japan on a weekend, I will leave my suitcase, take a shower, and go out to a nightclub.
'-Tell us about your previous clubbing experiences.
K: In the 90s - when I was going to art school - an older student who knew his way around the night scene took me out club hopping and whatnot. After that, from the 2000s to 2010s, I gradually stopped going out to clubs or out all night in general, but I have started going back to the clubs the past couple of years. I’m a bit hyperactive, so I don’t enjoy quietly drinking at bars that much. At clubs - like Contact, for example - I can have drinks, or I can dance if I want to. Also, when I’m in the zone making music, it makes it hard to stop, so it’s hard to make appointments with friends. It’s better that there are places I can go to whenever I’m free and try to run into friends.
-What do you think about the club scene in Tokyo today?
K: I think it is easier for older customers to go to clubs now. The club scene in Tokyo has transitioned from the gorgeous 80s to the moving-towards-stoic 90s to the dark ages of the 2000s; now I think it has reached maturity. Of course, this is my personal opinion. I only know Tokyo in Japan but I think the number of quality clubs is growing and the night scene, in general, is improving. In addition, I think the new stylish lounges and bars like Oath and Red Bar that stay open all night are great. In fact, my friends from abroad all say they look forward to going out at night when they visit Tokyo. My friend from Paris, Jean-Christophe Grange, who is a best-selling novelist in France, whom I met when he came to my concert in Japan, really loves Japan. When I asked him where he goes to when he’s in Tokyo, he answered, “Contact.” I was like, “Me too!” He’s about ten years older than me, but he’s really energetic.
'-You spend half of the year in Paris - what is the nightlife like there?
K: Parisians love to talk. No matter where they are - at a bar, for instance - they will talk and talk for hours. They also throw a lot of home-parties. I grew up in Tokyo so hanging out at night was not about making appointments. I enjoyed going to different places and meeting new people. In contrast, home-parties are mainly with guests that you already know. At one point I was like “I’m bored with home parties!” I got used to it now. Being talkative - and interesting - is one of the Parisians strongest attributes, so it’s more about the conversation rather than the restaurant or another location. You can be the nicest person - but it won’t count for much unless you’re also interesting. I go to all kinds of places, but I am interested in people and deep conversations rather than the features of the restaurant, so it’s good.
-What are your recommendations for a night out in Tokyo?
K: Well, my routine course is to have some yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers) or fish in Nakameguro, hang out a bit, and then go to a club. One of my favorite yakitori joints is “Maruya,” which is, more accurately, a yakiton joint (grilled pork on skewers). I took some friends from France, and they all said the food was great. They serve strong drinks poured on shaved ice which gives quite a good buzz. Then I will go to “Contact” or “Vision” in Shibuya. Sometimes I will go to a casual diner (Royal Host) before the club to chill a bit, and I also like stopping by small clubs like Ruby Room. The Royal Host in Shibuya is nice and spacious with good coffee drinks and food. My Japanese friends are surprised that I go to diners, but my friends from abroad enjoy it, and I’m starting to like it, too (laugh). In the morning, if I’m hungry, I will go for a bowl of ramen at “Hakata Tenjin” or “Ichiran,” and if I still have the energy I will go to “Oath” or “Red Bar” - then, my night is complete.
-What do you expect from the Japanese night scene?
K: Japanese food is delicious and cheap, hanging out at night is safe; there aren’t many countries that can say the same. Service is great as well, so I think visitors can have a great time while feeling safe. However, I don't think that’s enough - for the Japanese experience to go beyond the services and become a form of cultural exchange, I think we need more communication that penetrates and influences one another. A good club is not only good because of technical aspects, like sound quality, but also because of the good vibes. In a sense, this makes it enjoyable even without communication - but I don’t want things to stop there. I hope there will be more direct communication among each other in the future. A good night out is all about the love that we give and receive and because this is important, it should be conveyed properly.
address:1-5-10, Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
Dogenzaka 2-10-12, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shintaiso Bldg, B2F