Japanese Nightlife scene featuring DJ SARASAMusic
DJ SARASA sits down with NOCTIVE to talk about the Tokyo nightlife scene. In addition to playing sets all over the world such as in Europe, America, Asia, and the Middle East and collaborating with top-class artists, she is an entrepreneur with business ventures in producing parties, fashion brands, and her very own tacos restaurant called Casa De SARASA in Shibuya.
Q:Do you remember when you first started partying at night?
A: When I was in my sophomore year in High School, I studied abroad in Canada where there was an under age night club. From the moment I stepped into the club, I have already come to know the joy of a music-filled atmosphere resonating with the people dancing among it. The whole experience was so much fun for me. Then going forward, I realized that the fun had already begun at home while I was getting ready and also the journey to the club too!
Then after coming back to Japan during my Junior year, I saw that everyone was preparing for the college entrance exam. I thought everyone must be feeling very bored and so I produced a prom-style graduation party by hiring a DJ at a club!
Q: What kind of party style did you enjoy?
A: I definitely enjoyed music the most. It wasn’t like I went clubbing for meeting guys, I just went to the places that played the music I enjoyed.
Q: Is there a DJ who impacted you tremendously from that time whom you remember even to this very day?
A: For me, it was DJ KOCO aka SHIMOKITA-san that influenced me among many artists. I wanted to be like DJ KOCO from that very moment onward. Other artists such as DJ TSU-san had an Underground Hip Hop style that I thought was a perfect match with my own. He did an event called “Pleasure” regularly with DJ RYOW aka smooth current at a bar in Shibuya called club bar FAMILY which still is my most favorite event to this very day. Nujabes, a famous Japanese DJ/Producer, was at the center of that event with his famous Jazzy Hip-Hop style that played music that healed one’s soul.
Q: As you are currently DJ-ing around the world, what do you think is the difference between Japan and other countries?
A: Japanese people have a certain respect towards DJ’s in my opinion. They listen closely to the music the DJ is playing while in other countries, the audience has a strong opinion in the music they would like the DJ to play such as giving a song request directly to the DJ. However, my audience understands the meaning behind the songs I play when they sing and dance to my music. I believe that music itself has a way of forming a connection with each person so the audience listening carefully to what the DJ is playing is what I like about Japan.
Q: During your career as a DJ to this day, were there some moments that stood out above others?
A: I would say the beautiful nights, sunsets, playing on the boat, on top of buildings, and places where the views change with each song played -- especially where I could see the twilight of the city when I play really stood out for me.
Q: As the Tokyo Olympics are approaching and the streets of Tokyo are evolving day by day, how do you think nightlife in Tokyo will be affected?
A: In the past, there were some clubs that didn’t allow foreigners to enter, which in my opinion was an extremely weird rule.However, as Japan became more internationalized, people started to realize that changes had to be made for the better. For example, smoking in Japanese clubs has decreased dramatically. I definitely feel that the Japanese nighttime entertainment industry are moving towards a global standard.
Q: Clubs are also improving their selection of alcohol and cocktails as a whole wouldn’t you say?
A: With clubs like 1OAK Tokyo coming into Japan, Champagne Towers are starting to become the signature moment of the party. Influence from foreign clubs can also be seen by the excitement coming from the VIP areas too. Before, people who went clubbing had a party-goer type of label to them but now it is an event that all can enjoy more easily. With music festivals becoming popular it is now common to go for the sole enjoyment of the music. When I was a High School student, there were different groups that people belonged to such as Clubbing, Izakaya, and Karaoke groups. However, I feel a lot of the izakaya and karaoke lovers started going to clubs instead. As many different types of people are now enjoying clubs, it is a wonderful age for DJ’s in my opinion.
Q: What are your expectations of the Japanese nightlife scene going forward?
A: Personally, I hope clubs can ban smoking and become a place to enjoy drinks while partying in a healthy and mature environment. I hope when that kind of atmosphere is mixed with the music and live performing DJ’s, clubs and parties will increase more around Japan.
Places to enjoy nightlife, recommended by SARASA
■Casa De SARASA
Inspired by the tacos DJ SARASA ate during her DJ play in Mexico, you can enjoy authentic Mexican tacos right in the middle of Shibuya! Enjoy Corn Tortillas made right in the store with seasoned vegetables and juicy meat on top. Pair the tacos with Mexican Corona Beer or a Premium Tequila selection imported straight from Mexico. It is open until 3am on weekends so come grab a late night snack before hitting the clubs!
"Shibuya Mexican" CASA DE SARASA
Address：2-25-5 Dogenzaka Shibuya Tokyo (2F)
OPEN：Mon 18:00-23:00, Tue-Thur 18:00-25:00, Fri / Sat 18:00-27:00, Sun 15:00-25:00
Just a 5 minute walk from Shibuya lies a Japanese DJ venue owned by OKINO YUYA(KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE） representative of the DJ Scene itself. A mix of Funk, Jazz, Soul, and Disco; the music flows beautifully throughout the night paired with awesome drinks. It is a DJ Club that all visitors to Tokyo should go. It opens around 7:00pm on weekdays and receives full recommendation from DJ SARASA if you are looking for great music and drinks to party the night away!
Address:Daihachi Toto Bld. B1F, 15-19 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
■Club bar FAMILY
First opened in 1996, club bar Family is a classic Hip Hop club featuring DJs and rappers from both Japan and abroad. The artists featured in the lineup, the drinks, and the sound system created an atmosphere rarely found in other venues around Tokyo. If Underground Hip Hop was your thing, then this was the place to be. Whether it is a weekend event or a weekday lounge-style atmosphere, come check out this venue in the heart of Shibuya from 7:00pm!
club bar FAMILY
Address:Shisui Bld. B1F, 1-10-2 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
■Speakeasy TYO, a foreigner-friendly party
DJ SARASA is the resident DJ of Speakeasy TYO party, where all are welcomed to enjoy themselves, playing hip-hop, house, and funk along with vertan DJ’s from both Japan and foreign countries. The audience is a mix of Japanese, Foreigners, young and senior customers and is often hosted in Hotels or special locations such as the Yokohama Red-Brick buildings. On February 7th, 2020, it will be held at Hotel Koe Tokyo so please come and enjoy the party for yourself!