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Best live music venues in Tokyo
From classical to international stadium acts, these capital music clubs run the range
Tokyo’s best live music venues provide a wide range of entertainment options, from obscure local acts to big-name international artists. Whether you’re into jazz, top 40 or classical, one of these clubs is sure get your mojo working again.
Billboard Live Tokyo
Located in the sprawling, modern Tokyo Midtown complex in the heart of Roppongi, Billboard Live is another intimate venue that nonetheless hosts big names from around the world.
The club gets its name and clout from the eponymous entertainment publication, famous for its charts covering nearly every music genre.
Like the magazine, the venue isn’t limited to one type of music, so during any given week it might showcase hip-hop, big band jazz, soul, J-Pop, rock and disco acts. Recent performers include The Human League, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Rick Springfield and Raul Midón.
Tokyo’s Billboard Live is split into three seating levels, including tables near the stage, sofa seating on the second level and a standing area on the third level.
Prices vary greatly depending on the performance, but the space is small enough that even the view from the standing area is good; just remember to wear comfortable shoes at the Billboard, one of the best live music venues in Tokyo.
Music lovers in the Kansai area may also want to check out sister club Billboard Live Osaka.
4/F, Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, +81 (0) 3 3405 1133.
Blue Note Tokyo
The original, iconic Blue Note jazz club opened in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1981, and the Aoyama location followed just seven years later.
Both have become institutions in their respective cities, with Blue Note Tokyo having played host to such greats as Tony Bennett, Sergio Mendes, the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet and, more recently, Peabo Bryson and Natalie Cole.
Although the Blue Note started as a jazz club, performances today span genres from Motown and blues to French pop and bossa nova, making it one of the best live music venues in Tokyo.
Hugely talented artists from all across Japan and the world come to this unique, intimate setting to share their music with enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.
The Blue Note is set up like a jazz dinner club, with table-seating on the floor in front of the stage, surrounded by large booths around the perimeter.
There are generally two performances per night and visitors can also order food and drinks from the extensive menu. Mains range from ¥2,700 to ¥4,000 and there’s a dinner course available for ¥7,350.
6-3-16 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, +81 (0) 3 5485 0088.
For lovers of classical music, one of the best live music venues in Tokyo is the richly decorated Suntory Hall in Akasaka’s Ark Hills complex.
The main hall can accommodate over 2,000 people, with seating on all sides of the stage.
The centerpiece of the hall is a large pipe organ comprising a total of 5,898 pipes and 74 stops, giving it the ability to handle a wide repertoire of music.
In addition to regular concerts by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Suntory Hall also hosts various individual recitals and special programs, including opera master classes and smaller concerts geared toward children.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Suntory Hall, and a series of special concerts and events has been planned to celebrate the occasion. Ticket prices vary, with concerts in the smaller Blue Rose hall priced more affordably than those held in the main hall.
1-13-1 Akasaka, Minato-ki, +81 (0) 3 3505 1001, ticket center +81 (0) 3 3584 9999.
Smack in the middle of Roppongi, about halfway between Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills, is an unassuming, yet spacious, brick building housing the live music club STB139, also known as Sweet Basil.
Lesser known and more eclectic than the Blue Note and Billboard Live, STB139 nevertheless employs a similar dinner club layout, with seating at tables and long counters.
There’s also the Terrace Café, on a patio so shielded by trees you’ll forget you’re in the center of one of the capital’s busiest areas while still at one of the best live music venues in Tokyo.
Concerts at STB139 tend to focus on Japanese jazz and soul acts, such as Sadao Watanabe and Kiyotaka, but there’s also a variety of fusion, pop, classical and world music on the calendar.
Because the performers are local, tickets for some shows can be had for as little as ¥4,500, a fraction of what similar venues would charge for international acts.
Food and drinks are sold separately but are just as reasonable, with mains costing between ¥1,200 and ¥2,200.
6-7-11 Roppongi, Minato-ku, +81 (0) 3 5474 0139.
Further afield in Shin-Kiba is a mecca of Tokyo nightlife, the super club Ageha.
During the week the club is known as Studio Coast, a venue where concertgoers can catch popular live acts from Duran Duran to Limp Bizkit.
A total audience capacity of about 2,400 provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with some great bands at one of the best live music venues in Tokyo.
Performances at Studio Coast generally fall into the rock, pop or metal categories, and are by a mix of Japanese and international acts.
Recent concerts have spanned artists from Thirty Seconds to Mars and Katy Perry to Dir En Grey and Funky Monkey Babys.
While some shows are seated, many times the audience at Studio Coast is relegated to standing room only, meaning that those who arrive and queue up early will get the best view.
Ticket prices vary greatly depending on the show.
2-2-10 Shin-Kiba, Koto-ku, +81 (0) 3 5534 2525.