Tokyo's Top Jazz Bars
Tokyoites love that hep sound, and there’s no shortage of stylish jazz joints in town if you do too. Here’s our foot-tapping hot list on where to sip, sup and be scene...
Billboard Live. Head to the vertiginous Tokyo Midtown for Billboard Live, whose glittering auditorium boasts a trio of levels, a dizzying array of seating options and a swish stage with a glass backdrop, so you can admire the cityscapes until showtime. Jazz jaunts to add to your calendar include performances by Elegant Gypsy, the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and the J.A.M tour.
Cohiba Atmosphere. Tokyo or Havana? That’s what you’ll be asking yourself if you shimmy down to Cohiba Atmosphere for one of its weekly live jazz acts. This much-loved Minato bar-cum-lounge has been a staple of the suave set for several years now, thanks to its hip-swinging live music. Smart service, a top-shelf selection of whiskies, and prime-puff Cuban cigars are additional incentives to swing by.
Cotton Club. Warning: you may struggle to keep your derriere in its seat at Cotton Club, on account of the rousing mix of hi-life, calypso and sonic beats. Designed by Yasumichi Morita as a tribute to the original Harlem Cotton Club, Tokyo’s Cotton Club has already played host to a number of jazz legends. Jazz is thirsty work, but you’re in the right place: the selection of sassy cabaret-inspired cocktails includes numbers such as ‘Woman's Glance’, featuring Scotch whiskey jelly, homemade cranberry juice and mixed berry purée.
Blue Note. You can’t talk about jazz and Tokyo without mentioning Blue Note, which never hits a bum note: the legendary – and spenny – club has hosted many of the jazz greats, including Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Roberta Flack and more. Founded in 1988 by two wealthy sisters, Blue Note shows no signs of slowing: upcoming shows include performances by the Brecker Brothers Band, Jacob Collier and Roy Hargrove.
Blue Books Cafe. Little sis to the Blue Note, this subterranean bolthole – hidden down a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it staircase on a calm Jiyugaoka street – welcomes you in and envelopes you with serene surrounds and whispers of laidback jazz. Treat your ears and eyes to the Thursday night programme of DJs and live music. A caff by day and bar by night, it boasts lofty Brooklyn-esque ceilings and exposed brick interiors, stacked high with books. How’s that for hip, cats?
Billboard Live / 4/F / Tokyo Midtown / 7-4 Akasaka / Minato-ku / +81 3 3405 1133 / two shows a night at 7pm & 9.30pm Mon-Fri, 6pm & 9pm Sat, 4.30pm & 7.30pm Sun / billboard-live.com
Cohiba Atmosphere / 1-14-1 Nishi Azabu / Minato-ku / +81 3 5414 0025 / 7pm-4am daily / cohiba-atmosphere.jp
Cotton Club / 2/F / Tokyo Bldg / 2-7-3 Marunouchi / Chiyoda-ku / +81 3 3215 1555 / two shows a night at 6.30pm & 9pm Mon-Fri, 5pm & 8pm Sat-Sun / cottonclubjapan.co.jp
Blue Note / 6-3-16 Minami Aoyama / Minato-ku / +81 3 5485 0088 / daily / bluenote.co.jp
Blue Books Cafe / B/F / Eureka Bldg / 2-9-15 Jiyugaoka / Meguro-ku / +81 3 6825 8686 / 11.30am-11pm daily / bluebookscafe.jp