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The Best Tours Around the World series highlights one-of-a-kind tour adventures told through the experiences of world travelers.
Venese is the Founder and Director of FLIP Guide, a Japan guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of Japanese travel, living, culture, and language. She started out as an event organizer and marketing manager, creating unique memories for thousands of people. She strives to bring the most unforgettable experiences to you! Follow along with Venese on Instagram.
Tour: Bar Hop Through Unique Tokyo Nightlife Tour with Flip Guide
Traveling to a different country is always more fun while meeting people from all around the world, sharing a few drinks and good conversation. I joined this nightlife tour when I was in Tokyo, Japan, and had the best night of my trip. If you like uncovering unique and underground places while meeting new people and sharing interesting experiences, then you should check out this tour.
A city like Tokyo can be quite overwhelming. Although there is a lot of information in English, most of the information only covers the generic content. As someone that likes visiting the less-well-known and hole-in-the-wall spots, it has been a struggle to discover places to go in Japan.
I stumbled across this tour. After reading the description and reviews, I was instantly hooked and decided to jump on the trip. This Bar Hop Through Unique Tokyo Nightlife tour through FLIP Guide is hosted by foreigners that have lived in Japan for many years, and they do an amazing job showing you around the city. Not just blindly showing you to famous spots, they actually asked me what I was looking for and took in my personal preferences, which I appreciate.
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Apart from finding out new places, the hosts give you an insight into everyday life in Japan. Beyond the politeness, the cleanness, and anime and manga that many people might think of in Japan, there are actually a lot of underlying social issues and the unseen parts of society. It was interesting to find out the everyday lives of a foreigner living in Japan—the culture, society, and tradition. Not just as tour guides, but after the tour, you will feel like you have made friends for life.
We met up in Koenji, a local area in Tokyo. The hosts told me that there are many hipster cafes and thrift shops in the area, and if I was interested, I should drop by earlier and visit them. I took their advice, and after a mere two hours or so of walking around, I ended up with a few big bags of second-hand things I had bought.
Luckily, when I met up with the hosts, they brought me to a locker at the station, where I dropped off my shopping so I didn’t have to worry about carrying my things around with me.
We started the unique Tokyo nightlife tour in an izakaya, sampling different local foods produced by a Japanese man that has been running the izakaya by himself for thirty years. Izakayas can be compared with taverns or pubs, where you share a few dishes with your group, along with drinks. I had never known that food can be so simple, yet complicated. It was an incredible experience.
We got to pair the local Japanese Sake and beer with the food, and they were amazing combinations. We enjoyed a round of nihonshu, Japanese Sake. Japanese Sake is fermented Japanese rice wine, which can be compared to white wine. Pairing with the Japanese Sake, we got to try small plates of tofu, local seaweed salad, and fish.
You might be thinking, that sounds like a very plain and boring meal. That was my first thought, but yet, it was absolutely amazing! The tofu was created in Okinawa, a region in the south of Japan. It’s called Jimami tofu, and it’s made with peanut. The texture is unique, and the simplicity of the tofu with a dash of soy sauce and a touch of sesame seed made this dish perfect! That was definitely the highlight of my food tour experience.
We visited a local bar that creates their homemade liquor. Similar to the izakaya, this bar has been run by one person for the past twenty years. We got to try a ginger-infused Moscow mule, and it was delicious. Aside from that, they had plum-infused gin, coffee-infused vodka, and a lot of different options for you to choose from.
Although the bar owner didn’t speak any English, she was constantly smiling and refilling our plate of snacks throughout the time we were there. The Bar Hop Through Unique Tokyo Nightlife tour guides helped translate and explained about the bar. It’s incredible to find a small local bar like this in the middle of the big city. Although the bar owner doesn’t make a lot of money doing this, she seems to love it, and I hope the best for her.
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After visiting this unique bar, we headed over to another spot in the local area. Completely opposite from the previous place, this bar is a little bigger, with a huge menu and guess what? A foosball table and dart machines!
The owner here is a national foosball champion, and he competes in international competitions! Who knew foosball is an international sport?! By this point, our unique Tokyo nightlife tour group and new friends were all getting a little bit tipsy, so it was the perfect place to visit. We stayed here longer than expected, playing darts and attempting to play foosball. The owner joined us for a few games, but as you might’ve guessed, we lost over and over again to the owner.
Along with the games, the drinks here were also incredible. You could order a frozen margarita, and the owner would take his time and prepare the most authentic margarita he can for you. Pairing my margarita with the complimentary popcorn along with the games and great company, I had no complaints.
After discussing with the group, we decided to ask the tour guides to take us to a club. It was a Thursday evening, and knowing that the clubs probably wouldn’t be crowded, we were willing to take our chances. And we sure didn’t regret our decision.
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After grabbing my things from the locker (yes, somehow I remembered) and a drunken train ride with a drink in hand (yes, you can drink publicly in Japan), we arrived in Shibuya. Since its the hub of shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and just about all other kinds of entertainment, Shibuya was a change of scene from the local area.
About 10 minutes from the station, we arrived at a club for the last stop on our Tokyo nightlife tour. The host managed to get us free entrance, which was amazing. The entrance is not particularly impressive, but once you enter, you will discover three separate dance floors. Despite it being a Thursday, there were many people in the club, dancing along to the hip hop music. We stayed on the hip hop floor most of the time, but there was also an EDM floor and house floor.
By this point, we had all become friends, and it felt like we had known each other for years. It was easy to hang out with everyone and have a good time. The taxi ride home was rough, and you could imagine my hangover the next day, but it was all worth it.
For people who want to meet both local and international people while checking out the underground and local areas, enjoying good drinks, good food, and great company, then I would highly recommend joining this Bar Hop Through Unique Tokyo Nightlife tour when you’re around in Tokyo!
Thank you for sharing your experience, Venese! Would you take the Bar Hop Through Unique Tokyo Nightlife Tour with a Flip Guide tour? Do you have a favorite tour experience you want to submit? Let me know here.