Ok, maybe it’s not the absolute perfect night out in Tokyo, but it’s pretty close! Watch my video for a fun evening in Shinjuku, and things to do on a night out in Tokyo.
Yoshinoya is a Japanese fast food chain. If it was the perfect night out I’d eat somewhere better, but it’s good for a quick, cheap meal. It cost about 1000 Yen each (currently £7.20 / $9), for a meal with small side orders and an alcoholic drink. I’ll be making a whole video about how expensive it is in Tokyo – subscribe to my channel to be notified when it’s up.
The Yoshinoya classic is beef bowls, which were satisfying, but not the best quality beef. I had a vegetable bowl on rice, which was surprisingly good – and also very cheap. I ordered kimchi and grated cheese to stir in, along with the beni shoga pickled ginger they have on the table, which made it into a decent meal.
The menu’s in Japanese but has pictures and it’s easy to tell which is the vegetarian option – just point and say “kore o kudasai” (this please).
The great thing about Japanese fast food is that it isn’t limited to deep fried food and chips like here in the UK. While it may not be the healthiest, if you want a quick, cheap meal, you can have dishes with rice and noodles, or even vegetables!
Once you’ve had a few drinks, it’s time for karaoke! In Japan, you don’t have to perform in front of everyone on a stage – you get a private booth for just you and your friends. You can find them everywhere in major areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro. If you can read katakana, you’ll spot an unbelievable amount of vertical “ka-ra-o-ke” signs. There are several big chains, and independent places. I’ve been to Karaoke Kan (in the video) and Big Echo.
You pay per person by the hour – it’s quite pricey so keep an eye on the time. But it’s so much fun, and completely worth it for the experience.
You can set the controller to English language, and they have a surprisingly good selection of English songs. Even if you’re not into mainstream music (I like ska and punk) you’ll find songs you know. Out of the chains I’ve been to, Big Echo had the larger selection.
There’s a telephone in each room to order drinks, which can be a challenge! In my experience it’s hit and miss whether there’s someone who understands English. I know some basic Japanese so I managed to order on the phone, but you can always go to the desk downstairs and point at the picture menu if you need to. At most places it’s mandatory to order a drink for each person every round.
If you want to see more about karaoke in Japan, watch my video from last year:
Purikura are the photo booths where you can take pictures with your friends, add stickers and decorations, and they have the famous “beauty” features that give you giant eyes and smooth skin. They’re a lot of fun – if somewhat confusing at times as you can see in the video! And the results are always hilarious – a perfect souvenir.
Lots of arcades have a purikura floor, usually several floors up. So as always in Tokyo, look for stairs or a lift and go up to find them. All-male groups aren’t allowed – to stop guys hanging around where there are lots of girls. Mixed groups and couples are fine though.
Purikura costs about 400 Yen per group, and you can choose to have multiple prints on the sheet so you can cut up and share the photos. The screen often gives you fun poses to copy when you’re having your photos taken – go for it and you’ll have some hilarious photos! Remember there’s a time limit when you’re decorating the pictures – and there are hundreds of stickers and icons to play around with.
In the heart of Kabukicho you can spot Godzilla, on the top of the massive Hotel Gracery. This area is near the main part of Kabukicho, full of life even late at night. It’s a great place to take photos – with all the bright lights and neon, this is the Tokyo of your imagination.
Kabukicho is the red light district and (if there is one) it’s the “bad area” in Tokyo. But as long as you use your common sense and don’t go into any dodgy bars, it’s perfectly safe and I felt fine walking around there at night. Crime rates in Japan are very low, so there’s no need to be scared of going to Kabukicho.
Arcades or game centres are open late, and they’re a fun place to go on a night out. There are so many of them in the main areas: Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and of course Akihabara. They often have several floors, with UFO catchers and gachapon at the bottom, then games and purikura higher up. You’re free to look around and play on whatever you want to.
UFO catchers are usually 100 Yen per play, with discounts for multiple plays. I don’t have any skills and can never win, so I stick to gachapon, but I’ve seen lots of people win prizes so it is possible! Plushies seem easier to win than figures – if you want to win them it takes several tries to gradually edge them over the bar. I usually just buy them instead; Prize figures are often sold in shops in Akihabara and Nakano Broadway for 1200-1800 Yen.
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