As one of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo always has something going on, be it concerts, events or store openings. There is hardly a dull moment in the city, and some places are open 24/7. First-time travelers may be uncertain in navigating the city's nightlife: Is it safe? What are my options? How late are places open?

We spent some time exploring Tokyo after dark and found a variety of different options making for an exciting and diverse nightlife experience.

Ebisu Yokocho is located a stone's throw from the east exit of JR Ebisu Station in the west portion of central Tokyo. Do not let the small entrance, which is sandwiched between a convenience store and a restaurant, fool you. The tiny alley contains about 20 different restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines. The restaurant alley starts filling up from around 7:30pm on weekdays and earlier on the weekends. One of the rules of dining here is: drinks must be purchased from the store you are seated at but you can get food from other vendors in the alley.

Don't miss the entrance to Ebisu Yokocho
There are about 20 small restaurants here
Kushiage (fried food on skewers) from one of the restaurants

Another popular nightlife hotspot is Roppongi, well-known for being the home of a plethora of eateries and drinking holes as well as night clubs, too. Kagua is one of the neighborhood's most popular spots, and here patrons can enjoy an entertaining dinner show of which there are around two 1-hour performances per day. Dancers weave modern and traditional dance moves and stories into their show and sometimes engage the audience in their play.

Sign showing you where Kaguwa is
Audience participation
Intense storytelling
Dancers in kimono

For those who want to sample Japanese sake, Ningyocho Densui at the basement of Roppongi Hills is one of the best places to go. They carry a large selection of Japanese sake from across the country and offer delicious food to match the alcohol.

Entrance of Ningyocho Densui is marked with a sugidama (cedar ball)
Sake and small dishes
Names of different sake brands hang in place of the food menu

If you are looking to party more in the Roppongi district, ESPRIT TOKYO near the Roppongi Crossing is a popular nightclub to dance the night away. The club hosts different events everyday with guest DJs, and is open till five in the morning.

Dance floor inside Esprit Tokyo

The 'Otaku' (enthusiast; typically with regards to Japanese anime and manga) phenomenon has experienced a huge surge in Japan in the last decade, with Tokyo serving as the subculture's epicenter. For those wanting to experience Japanese otaku culture up close, one of the best places to go is Akihabara, where idol cafes such as Dear Stage can be found.

In this and many other establishments, idol-like staff, who have dreams of becoming famous pop stars, perform songs on stage before flocks of admiring fans. Drinks and snacks can be purchased that are served by the idols, allowing their fans the unique opportunity to interact with them.

Dear Stage, Akihabara
Taking the train from Akihabara Station

Another of Tokyo's centers of Otaku culture is Nakano, a twenty-minute train ride from Akihabara. In this bustling neighborhood stands Nakano Broadway, a multi-story mall containing a plethora of otaku shops that sell everything from anime and manga memorabilia to retro games consoles. With many of the shops closing around 8pm, this might be considered as a quick stop before experiencing the nightlife.

One of the shops in Nakano Broadway

If shopping works up your appetite, a great place to eat in the Nakano area is at Aoba, a celebrated ramen restaurant with more than twenty years' history. Very popular among locals, the eatery boasts delicious ramen that may serve you well ahead of a night of merriment.

Aoba Ramen
The restaurant serves a number of different variations of the traditional dish
The neon-lit backstreets of Nakano

From Aoba, it's a short meander through Nakano's winding back streets to Anime Song Karaoke Bar Z (zetto). This Karaoke bar specializes in songs from popular Japanese anime series, and patrons can order drinks and sing while the Japanese only speaking staff cheer them along while dressed like popular anime characters.

Tambourines at the ready at Anime Song Karaoke Bar Z (zetto)
A patron sings cheered on by the bar staff

After singing your heart out at Karaoke, a perfect place for a nightcap is in Shinjuku's Golden Gai. This compact network of narrow alleys is home to dozens of tiny drinking holes, some of which sit no more than a few customers at a time. The atmosphere in this area is exciting to say the least, and with many of the establishments open all night, you're free to continue merriment here until the wee hours.

Golden Gai