Japan Goth Club Nightlife Guide: Tokyo Decadance, Dark Castle, J-rock Metal & Rock Bars.
Welcome to La Carmina’s guide to Gothic Industrial Alternative clubs and bars, in Tokyo and Osaka! (Updated Dec 2014.) Looking for the best Goth / cyber / EBM / fetish / darkwave parties in Japan? How about some absinthe and Jrock bars? Here are maps, photos, videos… everything you could possibly need for a nightcrawl.
(What to wear to the party? Shop my favorite looks by clicking the pictures above!)
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I’m always adding new reports about Japanese Goth nightlife guide, so please visit my blog for the latest posts. (For Gothic Lolita Punk / Visual Kei / Alternative clothing shops in TOKYO, visit my shopping guide. My OSAKA store maps and photos are here.)
† WHO IS LA CARMINA? †
La Carmina (www.lacarmina.com) is a Japan fashion, travel and culture blogger, TV host (Bizarre Foods, Oddities Taboo, Kawaii TV), journalist (Huffington Post, AOL, CNN), coolhunter, and author of 3 food books (Random House, Penguin) — including Cute Yummy Time and Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo.
La Carmina has years of on-camera travel TV hosting experience (Food Network, Today Show, Travel Channel, NHK Japan, ABC, Sony Australia, Canal Plus France, Discovery, National Geographic, CNN). She also hosts and produces her own travel video series for AOL / Huffington Post, shot worldwide with hundreds of thousands of views per episode. For more details, see her TV reels and full biography.
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Important DECEMBER 2014 update below
Many of these Goth parties have unfortunately ended, or are happening less frequently. If you’re coming to Japan, I suggest that you visit DecabarZ, the new location of Tokyo Decadance Bar (address 歌舞伎町1-2-13, Shinjuku-ku). For a sense of what goes on at this club, see my report from the old Decadance location. This bar is open almost every day, and attracts a colorful alt crowd.
Finally, Midnight Mess and Tokyo Dark Castle have the occasional Goth club night, and always have a big event the week before Halloween. See links and coverage of past events further down.
For info about J-rock and Visual Kei bars (where bands hang out), see the info near the bottom of this post.
† † † SHINJUKU / KABUKI-CHO MAP † † †
(Click on the above map or here to enlarge.)
Kabukicho (East Shinjuku) is known as the red-light district and playground for host clubs. Tokyo’s Goth / Industrial / Alternative nightlife is concentrated in Shinjuku.
Color key to the map above
PURPLE: Goth / Industrial / Alternative / Cyber / EBM / Fetish clubs, parties, bars.
BLUE: Theme restaurants, cheap sushi, and other favorite places to eat. (And convenience stores are great for cheap alcohol and snacks.)
GREEN: Gothic Lolita Punk Rock clothing stores, dollar stores and other places to buy goodies. View my Alt Goth Tokyo Shopping Guide for detailed directions and photos.
In 2008-9, I plotted the main Tokyo Gothic club venues on a Google Map here. (Some of these locations are outdated; it’s best to use the map above.)
General info about Tokyo & Osaka Goth/alternative/fetish clubs and bars. Most of the parties begin around 11pm or midnight, and run all night (the trains stop running between 1:30-5am approximately). Club admission prices vary, but are generally $20-30 US including one drink (and you may receive a discount if you RSVP in advance or abide by the dress code). Bars will sometimes have cover charges of about $5, but many have no extra fees. The DJs and guests are extremely friendly and open; the only exceptions are the obnoxious gaijin who are only looking for girls and make no effort to dress up… go home, losers!
Address: B1F Dai-ichi Tokiwa Bldg., Kabukicho 2-45-1, Shinjuku
The most popular Goth/Cyber event venue. Midnight Mess, Tokyo Dark Castle and (Osaka-based) Midnight Necropolis take place here; DJ Chihiro, Mistress Maya, DJ SiSEN and Selia often play. Two floors, two bars, and a large performance area. (For full details on Midnight Mess in video format, read this post. Dec 2014 update – this party now only happens occasionally, at various locations, especially the week before Halloween).
Midnight Mess is the longest-running Goth/Industrial party in Tokyo. There is always a fantastic turn-out of young Goths and Lolitas in amazing outfits. The performers include opera singers, dancers, S&M shows… above and here is a video with everything you know to have a spooky time! Generally the price is 2500 yen (Gothic dress code); 3000 yen with RSVP, 3500 yen (door). Drink ticket included. AGE: 18 to enter, 20 to booze.
April 2012: Final Midnight Mess party for now
Midnight Mess on Tokyo Kawaii TV and more photos here
August 2011 Midnight Mess club night, and Tokyo Decadance Bar
May 2011: Tokyo Dark Castle with BAAL, Auto-Mod, Kenzo-A
May 2010: Midnight Mess (if you only go to ONE Goth night, go to this one!)
May 2010: Overfused Goth party run by Mistress Maya, featuring Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy
April 2010: Midnight Mess with DJ SiSEN, Selia
January 2010: Midnight Mess and Tokyo Dark Castle
April 2009: Midnight Mess fetish show
April 2009: Midnight Mess how-to info
November 2008: Midnight Necropolis
November 2008: Tokyo Dark Castle Halloween special
October 2008: Tokyo Dark Castle
September 2008: Midnight Mess
SHINJUKU MOTION is to the immediate left of Club Marz (see above right map). Take the elevator up to see Goth/industrial/experimental bands, such as the Demonoid 13 party (click for review and video). You can see Goth nightlife fashion here. Kenzo-A, the Rituals Gothic fashion designer, has a new monthly Goth music event called The Head Shop at Shinjuku Motion. (Dec 2014 update: there are still often punk, Goth and indie bands performing here. Check the Motion website for listings.)
CHRISTON CAFE SHINJUKU
(Shibuya location is now closed)
Shinjuku: Oriental Wave Bldg. 8F, 5-17-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
I photographed both venues for my theme restaurants book! Tokyo Decadance (DJ Sisen, Chihiro) and the annual Fetish Ball used to take place at the Shibuya location, which is smaller, darker and more cavernous. The huge Shinjuku venue that looks like a flamboyant Catholic church. Tokyo Decadance’s largest events (Halloween, Xmas) take place here. There are photo booths, fortune telling, and craft stands selling Goth and Lolita goods. You can see more photos here (I did a Food Network TV shoot here).
DECADANCE BAR used to be upstairs from Christon Cafe (on the 9th floor). It’s now moved to DecabarZ (new address) 歌舞伎町1-2-13, Shinjuku-ku0. For a sense of what goes on at this club, see my report from the old Decadance location. This bar is open almost every day, and attracts a colorful alt crowd. It’s staffed by Adrien, SiSEN and other colorful Decadance regulars. Come any night of the week — there’s Goth / electro / house music, food, absinthe and stuffed toys everywhere.
** If you are in Tokyo and there aren’t any monthly parties going on, don’t despair. Deca Bar Z is always open, and has theme nights.
2013 – Sex Pot Revenge night at Tokyo Decadance Bar
2011 – Decadance Bar overview: Adrien le Danois, Porco and friends above Christon Cafe
March 2010: Tokyo Decadance White Day party with SiSEN, Selia, Kaya
June 2009: Christon Cafe Shinjuku renewal party
April 2009: Tokyo Decadance Cyber Goth all-night club party
October 2008: Tokyo Decadance Halloween
Overview of Tokyo Decadance
Overview of Christon Cafe
DEPARTMENT H is wildest fetish party in Tokyo, filled with crazy furry costumes, anime-head masks, drag queens, extreme piercings, you name it. We filmed footage at the event for Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods TV show on Travel Channel. It takes place on the first Saturday of the month and is highly recommended, for a bizarre only-in-Japan experience. See all my reports about Department H, at Kinema Klub in Uguisidani.
6F 1-1-14 Negishi, Taito-ku, Uguisudani
Begins at midnight and goes all night
STUDIO CUBE 326
Address: 3-2-6, Tamachi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0002
A nice venue on an upper floor of a modern building. Follow the map carefully, as it can be difficult to find – you need to walk about 12 minutes to get there. Studio Cube hosts Alamode Night and Club Theatric from D’s Valentine’s Artism. Frequent performances by DJ Chihiro and Sisen, the Dark Marchen, Akira Death. You’ll see lots of cosplay, cyber and Lolita outfits.
** Dec 2014 update ** the venue for Artism, Alamode and other D’s Valentine events changes constantly. For upcoming listings and events, visit Artism website.
Address: B1F, Yachiyo Bldg., 2-12-13 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Goth, industrial, 80s and glam at this seminal 80s Goth-punk venue. Come here to see live bands. (Dec 2014 update – alt bands still play here frequently)
2011 – Walpurgis Night featuring Lolita Komplex, 13th Moon, Madame Edwarda
Address: B1, 1-34-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
It’s a little hard to find this venue because it’s hidden in the recess of a wall. If you’re walking from Shinjuku Station, it will be on the right side of the street; look out for the AM/PM! Here’s a video I shot outside Club Hoop that will help guide you. ** Events don’t usually take place here any more.
Club Cemetery (all-Goth, amazing music), Gothic Bar Heaven and other D’s Valentine nights take place here. The back room is filled with stands where you can buy Gothic & Lolita accessories, fake nails, etc. NOTE: the Goth parties have moved to different locations after 2008. This night is no longer happening.
Address: Maruhashi Bldg B1F, 1-25-2 Shibuya-ku Higashi
Another venue for DJ Sisen and Chihiro’s Gothic Bar Heaven, Club Theatric and Alamode Night. Take the East exit of JR Shibuya station and turn right on Meiji Dori. Keep walking along Meiji Dori (towards Ebisu) for a few minutes and pass the Life Supermarket. Then take the next left and Club Crawl is on the left in the basement of Maruhashi Building, opposite an AM/PM convenience store. (Dec 2014 update – see above for the more recent parties) ** Events don’t usually take place here any more.
TOKYO ABSINTHE, FETISH & VISUAL KEI JROCK BARS – Oh, how we adore the green fairy. Below are favorite hangouts of J-rockers and spooky kids.
† Bar Tram is northwest of Ebisu Station. Look for a giant stuffed raven and empty absinthe bottles outside. The place carries over a hundred varieties of absinthe from all over the world.
† Photos from a night at Bar Tram
† More fun at Bar Tram in Ebisu
† Bar Zin in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku is a Visual Kei / J-rock bar. Dir en Grey and X Japan left memorabilia on the walls next to skulls, a devil mask, bondage goods, a giant axe, and stuffed Jack Skellington and Sally dolls.
† Another absinthe bar: Bar Breadline in Renkon/Hasune (a short subway ride from Sugamo).
† Gellonimo is a Visual Kei bar in Shinjuku.
† Star Cafe is another small Jrock / Visual Kei bar in Kabukicho, Shinjuku (near Club Marz)
† Decadance Bar also serves absinthe. It’s located above Christon Cafe Shinjuku, 9th floor. (Details above).
† Guinea Pig is a fetish bar in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku.
† Torture Garden occurs every year or so – a fetish, play party.
† There are various rock / punk music bars in Koenji, a short subway ride from Shinjuku. See photos and reports here.
† Shibuya has a drinking alley by the subway station (Hachiko exit). We did a Goth re-creation of Anthony Bourdain’s Tokyo episode of No Reservations in this post.
† Kagaya is a crazy performance art bar in Shinbashi with puppets, costumes and… scandal! View our video here.
OSAKA GOTH INDUSTRIAL NIGHTLIFE
For Osaka Goth Industrial Lolita fashion, see my store guide.
BLACK VEIL: A phenomenal deejay, DJ Taiki’s monthly party – Black Veil – is known as one of the best Goth/EBM gatherings in Japan, if not the world. Osaka’s Black Veil always takes place at Club Neo in Shinsaibashi (the shopping district with all the Gothic Lolita Cyber Punk stores). Taiki also runs occult store Territory (see my Osaka shopping guide for details). Dec 2014 update – still the best party in town, especially the New Year’s Eve bash!
May 2011 – 11th anniversary of Black Veil, run by DJ Taiki of Territory
Black Veil party photos and full report
More photos from DJ Taiki’s Black Veil Ball
Video from Black Veil 10th anniversary party
OSAKA HEAVY METAL ROCK BARS
† Bar Midian. Fu-ki, vocalist of the disbanded Visual Kei group BLOOD, opened up a heavy metal rock bar in Osaka. We went on a treasure hunt to find Bar Midian. It was quite the adventure, with scandalous boy-on-boy action along the way… (Full directions and photos here.)
† Other Visual Kei / Heavy metal / hard rock bars in Osaka: Moonwalk and Rock Rock
LA CARMINA WIKIPEDIA: I am a professional travel and subcultures blogger, travel TV host and arranger, author of 3 books (Penguin USA and Random House), and journalist for Business Insider, Sunday Times, CNN and Huffington Post Travel / AOL. My popular blog on Japan Gothic Lolita fashion / Visual Kei – www.lacarmina.com/blog – has been featured in major publications (The Guardian, Cosmo, Vogue, LA Times). I’ve appeared on The Today Show, The Doctors and ABC Nightline, and co-hosted an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern for Travel Channel. TV hosting and arranging credits include Food Network, Fuel, National Geographic, Discovery, Pro Sieben, Dutch Pepsi, Sony Australia, Canal Plus France, and CNN International. View my TV presenting reels and full biography.
I run a coolhunting / trend consulting / TV hosting and arranging company: La Carmina & The Pirates.
– We specialize in Japan, Goth, alternative, cosplay, burlesque, LGBT, fashion, pop culture.
– Our services include TV production coordinating, on-camera hosting, Japanese translation and guiding, coolhunting, consulting.
– For our client list and show reel, please visit our Pirates website.
(PS – not sure what to wear to these events? Shop my selection by clicking the pictures above.)