Tokyos best live music venues

15 great gig spots, from indie dives to amphitheatres

Tokyo’s best live music venues

Jean-François Laporte and Cyril Hernandez at SuperDeluxe

Tokyo’s best live music venues
1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15

Shibuya O-Nest
It started in 1991 with the opening of Tokyo's first dedicated large-scale gig venue; now the Shibuya O empire sprawls across four discrete locations (five, if you include Duo Music Exchange), ranging from the 1,300-capacity O-East to the more intimate O-Crest and O-Nest. The latter has the most consistently interesting line-ups, drawing Japanese and niche overseas indie acts, and benefits from having a separate upstairs bar area that's used as a second stage for some of the bigger events.
Venue details

Nice View at Shibuya O-Nest

Shinjuku Loft
This is said to be the first venue where – gulp – Japanese audiences actually stood up to watch a gig. Three decades and one relocation later, Shinjuku Loft is still in a rude state of health. Expect indie, punk and the odd spot of rockabilly, and keep an eye out for the regular all-night gigs.
Venue details

Star Pine's Cafe
Offspring of the long-running Mandala live house, Star Pine's Cafe is far more capacious its venerable parent. It's spread over two floors, with a balcony looking down over the stage, and on quieter nights they put out chairs and tables. Musically, you might get anything from folk and jazz to tap dancing – and that's to say nothing of the club nights that take place there most weekends.
Venue details

It's the best Tokyo loft that's actually in a basement. SuperDeluxe was conceived as a cross-platform art space, and hosts events such as the phenomenally successful designer powwow, Pecha Kucha Night. However, music tends to dominate the schedule, especially improvisation, electronica and free jazz. Bonus points for having decent food and serving tasty local brew Tokyo Ale on tap.
Venue details

Veltz at SuperDeluxe

Three/Basement Bar
Okay, they're actually two different venues, but it's hard to talk about one of these Shimokitazawa bulwarks without alluding to its sibling and next-door neighbour. Three's 'lounge' area (read: they've got a sofa) makes it the marginally more sophisticated of the two, but both are enormously popular on the local band circuit.
Venue details: Three
Venue details: Basement Bar

Tokyo’s best live music venues
1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15

By James Hadfield
Photos by James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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