Roppongi (六本木), which translates literally as “six trees”, is a central district of Tokyo (東京) that is known these days for its large expat community, towering art galleries and animated nightlife. While the night scene has given Roppongi a bad name among some, the high concentration of clubs are highly frequented and recommended by many while other cultural activities invite crowds of all ages and nationalities.
Its central location makes Roppongi easily accessible from all parts of the city. Grab yourself a Suica card or rail pass to travel the train and metro systems with ease and you’re all ready to discover the many sides of Roppongi for yourself with these 26 things to do.
If you’ve ever been a fan of Mario Kart (マリオカート), you’ve probably dreamed of living out the reality. Well, in Tokyo, everything’s possible, driving around Tokyo in a go-kart included!
If you walk around Tokyo for long enough, you will probably catch sight of some excitable-looking tourists whizzing around in go-karts. Why not jump on the bandwagon and go the extra mile by dressing up in fancy dress and picking your favourite tunes to blast out as you drive around. This is a great way to discover the Roppongi area and you can even go further afield if you hire out the go-karts for long enough.
You will need to be in possession of either a Japanese or international driver’s licence (or just Japanese translation for some nationalities) which you will need to provide when hiring out the go-karts.
However much of a cliché it may be, we all fancy spotting a geisha (芸者) on a trip to Japan. Although the majority of geisha-spotting tends to take place in the more traditional city of Kyoto (京都), there are still many chances to geishas performing in Tokyo.
While Roppongi certainly isn’t the first place you would associate with geishas, live performances are hot on the scene and the Roppongi Kaguwa (六本木香和) restaurant is the proud host of one of the neighbourhood’s most exciting shows: the Oiran za (花魁座). Unlike any ordinary show, the Oiran-za presents a hybrid mix of traditional and modern jazz dance in a Cabaret show boasting incredible costumes from geishas, drag queens and dancers.
Depending on the type of evening you want, you can accompany the show with an all-you-can-drink deal or dinner at various times in the evening.
While the common cat and dog cafés aren’t something we’d turn our noses up at, there’s something about hanging out with hedgehogs that seems like something so specific that it must only go on in Japan. Not as spiky as they look, these cute little creatures are surprisingly friendly and will allow you to stroke and feed them.
At Roppongi’s hedgehog café, there is an entrance fee that includes access to the self-service drinks bar or feel free to bring your own little picnic.
RPG fans, rejoice! Dragon Quest (ドラゴンクエスト) is in Japan and it can all be experienced through your taste buds. Luida Bar (ルイーダの酒場) is a standing bar decorated out in a Dragon Quest theme with weapons and crests covering the walls. The main event is the gory DQ-themed menu where you can find food in the shape of amputated arms, tongues and innards.
Like in many countries, the real food of the nation is found being cooked up in the kitchens of the locals. Although we might like to imagine that in Japan every meal is sushi (寿司), the common dishes eaten in the home are quite different. With very few restaurants around Japan serving up traditional home grub, it is a unique experience to get a taste, let alone to learn how to make it for yourself. Try your hand at making gyoza (餃子), meat dishes and much more for the perfect recipes to take back home with you.
Roppongi may be more well-known for its nightlife but it would give any other district a run for its money when it comes to museums and galleries. Art exhibitions can be found scattered around the neighbourhood, many around the station, most famously the Mori Art Museum (森美術館) which shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Tokyo.
As the exhibitions vary, let a local take you on a tour of three of the best current exhibitions in some of the district’s most celebrated galleries, whether it’s the Mori, the Suntory Museum (サントリー美術館) or the National Art Gallery (国立新美術館). All this followed by a traditional Japanese lunch and a spectacular view over Tokyo from the 53rd floor.
While it’s believed to be important to communicate with real people, when you’ve had enough of conversation with humans it’s time to head to a rabbit café for some more simple interaction.
Cuddle, pet, feed and photograph these irresistible balls of fluff that hop around the café freely. With a variety of different breeds of rabbit, you’re sure to find your favourite companion for your relaxing coffee break. Help yourself to drinks at the self-service drinks bar or bring your own food and drink along.
Just one day in Tokyo and you’ll recognise that, when it comes to clothes, the Japanese have got style. Whether you’re going for chic, hipster or ultra-feminine, Tokyo is the place to perfect your style. Ever struggle knowing exactly what suits you? With an expert stylist at your side, you can make the most of Roppongi’s abundance of fashion shops.
A day out in Roppongi doesn’t just have to involve admiring the art of others, release your own inner creativity with an art workshop. Create greeting cards and gift tags to take home and impress your loved ones, all made from your own Sumiganashi (墨流し) designs, which is a traditional Japanese technique for dying paper.
The entertainment on offer in Roppongi is diverse. With performances found at theatres, clubs and restaurants around the district, it’s never hard to find something that takes your fancy. If you’re impressed by glitzy costumes, sexy dancing and dramatic scenes, head over to the Roppongi Kingyo (六本木金魚) bar to enjoy a one-hour dance show. Also known as Neo-Kabuki (NEO歌舞伎), this style of performance is the perfect entertainment to be enjoyed with a scrumptious meal and drinks.
Memorabilia don’t all need to be bought from a shop, so why not make your own to take home with you? Join a craft-making workshop for creating a photo album to add photos of your stay in Japan. In the two hours, you can experiment with different styles and colours for your album as well as learning techniques for adding text to your designs.
Buddhism is one of the most prevalent religions in Japan and, although relatively few people are practising Buddhists, its influence on the country and its traditions are indisputable. Incense is frequently offered in temples but do you know why?
The Center for Arts and Wellness has its home in Roppongi where you can go along to learn more about the Buddhist incense ceremony, Mon-koh (聞香). Not only will you get an insight into the ingredients used to create that familiar musky fragrance but you will also learn what it’s used for and you can even try your hand at making some yourself.
The Japanese are proud of their four distinct seasons with the theme of activities changing at each turn of the season. In the winter months, Roppongi is a popular spot to visit thanks to its festive illuminations which light up the streets at night.
There is also an ice skating rink which is set up over winter to in Tokyo Midtown (東京ミッドタウン), which isn’t just a tourist trap but is a good place to find locals out with friends, families or on dates. Book your ice skating trip between 17:00 and 22:00 and you can appreciate the illuminations while whizzing around the rink.
Salsa isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Japan but if the Latin American dancing is your thing, Roppongi is the place to go. Whether you’re looking for a dance partner or someone to show you the best salsa Tokyo has to offer, you can be shown around by a male host that knows exactly where the party’s at. So, get your dancing shoes on and get ready to stay out until the first train the next morning!
Touristy activities are enjoyable but sometimes it’s fun to experience a new place like a local. If you want to try out something different, how about putting your trust in the hands of a professional hair stylist?
Unlike most local hair salons, the stylists at Hayato Salons are bilingual and have trained abroad so are familiar with a range of hair types so you won’t end up with an accidental poodle perm – trust me, I’ve been there. Go on, release the inner you!
Ever tried on a piece of clothing and wondered why the style is right but somehow it still doesn’t suit you? It could be that you’re choosing the wrong colours. Depending on skin tone, hair colour and even personality, every person has a certain palette of colours that are best suited to them. Meet an expert that can find those colours for you in terms of clothes and make-up.
Sounds like an activity just suited for women? Think again! You’d be surprised at the benefits it can also have for men for both colour-matching and finding the perfect suit to get yourself the real “salary man” look.
The traditional Japanese paper known as washi (和紙) may be an ancient creation but it remains popular for crafts to this day. With its many uses, one way of making the most of the beautiful fibrous material is by painting onto it. Join a private class in Roppongi and get advice on washi painting techniques.
Even with no experience, painting is a great form of release and you will most likely be surprised at what you can come up with when you unleash your creative side.
If you happen to be in Tokyo in November, you might not be there for the winter illuminations or the springtime cherry blossom but at least you’re here for Movember (モベンバー)! It has become a popular craze among men to spend the month of November growing out their moustaches all in the name of charity.
While you’ll come across relatively few Japanese men sporting moustaches, if you make your way to the Roppongi you can enjoy an evening dedicated to the cause. Haven’t managed to grow your own moustache? Pick up a fake one!
In recent years, the popularity of Halloween in Japan has grown exponentially. While Halloween has more commonly been associated with children trick or treating in the US, Japan’s celebrations have managed to top other countries with thousands of people hitting the streets in every style of fancy dress under the sun.
As a big centre for party-goers, Roppongi puts on a number of impressive Halloween bashes in bars, clubs and even in the streets so grab your costumes and don’t miss out on the fun waiting to be had.
“Bonenkai (忘年会)” is the name for the parties the Japanese throw among colleagues and friends at the end of the year. The name literally translates as “forget the year gathering” which seems appropriate considering the tradition to get well and truly inebriated before stumbling home.
If you know the right time and place to go in Roppongi, you can experience the crowds of locals which are most commonly made of salarymen. In the trusting hands of a local, enjoy the lively atmosphere of a busy izakaya (居酒屋). You’ll feel like New Year’s Eve came early!
Anyone would have a hard time to name some Japanese dishes that aren’t delicious. While it is never hard to find restaurants in Tokyo, finding those special gems that tick all the boxes is a trickier task. With the extra help of a local foodie who will not only recommend which restaurants to go to but give you the best dishes to try out on the menu which, let’s admit, is often a task to read in itself. Whether it’s a special occasion or you’re just a big foodie yourself, this will complete your day out in Roppongi or further afield if you want to discover another area of Tokyo for dinner.
There is no denying that Tokyo is vast and the trains get crowded. If you’d rather do your sightseeing on two wheels, why not hire a bike? Unfortunately, Tokyo doesn’t have any easy-hire city bikes available on the streets yet but cycling tours are the safest and easiest option for those wanting to discover the city at speed.
For a cycling tour that covers the Roppongi area, choose number the tour’s second option – the Aoyama (青山) and Omotesando (表参道) Course. This gives you the chance to pop into Roppongi while also efficiently covering several surrounding areas in the same day.
If you like to save your sightseeing for nighttime, why not hop on a tour bus that will take you around some of Tokyo’s most impressive night views. Going from Tokyo Bay (東京湾)’s Rainbow Bridge (レインボーブリッジ) to Odaiba (お台場) for an authentic Japanese dinner, you’ll finish off the evening at Roppongi Hills City View Observation Deck (六本木ヒルズ展望台 東京シティビュー). This is the perfect time to hit the town if you’ve been planning to familiarise yourself with Roppongi’s nightlife.
Being in Tokyo, you would assume that meeting some of the Japanese people you are surrounded with all day shouldn’t be a difficult task. However, approaching strangers in the street and asking to be their friend is rarely a successful technique. If you want to drink, whether in Roppongi or elsewhere in Tokyo, you can join a group specifically made for making drinking buddies. The bar changes from night to night, so be sure to check before you sign yourself up.
While funny stories can come out of nights out in small groups if you’re looking to make new friends and have as much fun as possible, why not join a party of like-minded people to experience the best of what Tokyo has to offer.
Get the perfect night tailored to you and make friends along the way with a local that knows all the best spots in Tokyo. Whether you’re into eating, drinking, karaoke (カラオケ) or a good old boogie, Tokyo isn’t short of any of those establishments, both in Roppongi and at other spots around the city.
Roppongi is known for its world-famous Mori Art Gallery and its modern structures, with a huge spider sculpture welcoming you into this innovative and artistic district. In order to discover the best art and architecture that Tokyo has to offer, join a tour that will take you not only to Roppongi Hills (六本木ヒルズ) but also on to some of the capital’s other incredible pieces of architecture and snippets of Japanese culture. This will include structures designed by the reputable Tadao Ando (安藤 忠雄) as well as shrines, modern shopping areas and the center of pop culture, Harajuku (原宿).
Roppongi deserves more than just a couple of hours with the endless activities to keep you occupied. Not all aimed at tourists, you can experience this exciting district like a local and get a real sense of what it’s like to live in Tokyo. If you’re planning on visiting Roppongi before setting off to your next destination, be sure to leave your luggage before going off to make the most of a day of exploring!
Dine Like Royalty With This Event at Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi!
The Snoopy Museum Has Opened in Roppongi! Here’s Why You Should Pay a Visit
Enjoy the Medaka in the Tranquil Gardens of Roppongi Hills