Let’s step away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s nightlife for a second. As fun as late night drinking is, you can’t always be downing liquid courage. Sometimes you just need a breather. Instead of Tokyo’s nightlife, we’re going to take at look at the Night Scene.
New York is the City that Never Sleeps. Tokyo is the baby brother that tucks in at 9 PM. Weird? I thought so too. Instead of having 24 hour shops, almost all of Tokyo’s consumer districts go lights out at 8 PM. Even the bars have strict schedules between 3 PM- 26 AM.
As strange as it might seem for one of the world’s busiest cities to have this kind of curfew, it actually becomes expected due to one reason.
The Japanese railway system.
Remember, Japan isn’t a country ruled by motor vehicles. Sure, you can always see plenty of cars on the road but the majority of Japanese commute by train, and these railways always shutdown by 12:40 AM. Missed it? Oh well, you’ve got 4 hours to kill.
But… everything is closed, so now what?
You get two kinds of people.
The first are obvious: Find another way to get home. This could include taking a taxi, calling on a friend, or just plain walking. Although, you’ll have to pay a hefty night shift fine for using a taxi past 10 PM. Still, sure beats having your wife angry at you.
The second is where thing get interesting. For the sake of this argument, we’ll assume that getting drunk is out of the question. You’ve got work starting at 9:00 sharp tomorrow. Can’t go in there looking like the town looney.
This group is the reason some businesses are still going strong. Without any reason to rush home until 4 AM, now you have to find some ways to spend that time. Here’s some:
- Manga/Internet Cafe
- 24 hour cafe or Mcdonalds
What these three have in common is that they’re all places to sit for a few hours for relatively cheap prices. Karaoke gives you a whole room with sofas to lay down on. Internet Cafes provide a cubicle with a reclining chair AND a computer. But let’s face it, we’d all choose Karaoke. Who wouldn’t want to bellow Bohemia Rhapsody at 2 in the morning?
I’ll introduce Karaoke shops and Internet Cafes in future posts. For now, just keep in mind that a good portion of Japanese keep themselves cooped up after midnight while the other half is snugly in bed. This leaves melancholics like me with open streets to wander.
Tokyo at night is wonderfully quiet city. There’s a charm to nighttime already, yet the brilliance of shop lights keep the colors vivid even at these hours. Long nightly walks are almost like a blessing, and when you find another person on your path you can’t help but wonder if similar thoughts are flowing through their head.
Outside my apartment building.
Rainy days make the best pictures.
If you’re ever presented with a chance to tour the residential areas of this city at night, I implore you to do so. It’s not something to be forgotten.
What’re your favorite things to do at night? Comment below!