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Japan pulls out stops to improve nightlife for foreign tourists

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"It wouldn't be easy because we check train tracks and the overhead wires between the last train and the first train in the morning," said an official of the subway operator.

How about two trains an hour? Wouldn't that provide enough time for maintenance?

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Now local officials are brainstorming for ideas to address this dissatisfaction and others among foreign tourists and boost their spending by encouraging more night outings to shows, restaurants and scenic spots in the country.

Simple answer, let the trains run 24/7! They can cut the number, and like Tommy wrote too, it should be enough time for maintenance.

But that's not the "real" reason, the real reason is that culturally speaking, people should be at home in bed and not out partying! Hurts the work production!

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Running trains or public transportation 24 hours for foreign tourists? It does not pay.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Running trains or public transportation 24 hours for foreign tourists? It does not pay.

I'm pretty sure that they'll let Japanese people ride the trains too.

22 ( +27 / -5 )

I'm pretty sure that they'll let Japanese people ride the trains too.

I wouldn't be surprised if these changes were actually aimed at Japanese. They could just be using the foreign tourist excuse because it's easier to sell.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Typical hypocrites in this Government.... they'll outlaw Uber to protect existing Taxi companies, but search for ways to fill the void these companies do not fill. Protectionism is alive and quite well in Japan.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

That Taiko performer is sooo sexy...

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

the real reason is that culturally speaking, people should be at home in bed and not out partying! Hurts the work production!

This is so true, it's the "train curfew".

18 ( +18 / -0 )

On my travels to Japan, I make it a point to not stay out too late.

I'm not a night person in the first place, but night time is when all the nasty drunkards, like salarymen, flood the streets. Not a fan of seeing them getting sick on the trains and all over the streets.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

I sometimes shortcut through a nightlife district on my way to work in the morning. Always fascinating to see the mostly drunk hosts and hostesses struggling to hail a taxi at 8am, or (in Tokyo) to get propositioned by a trannies and hookers before I have even had my first coffee.

But I used to be on the other side of that equation, when I marveled at how many people were up and looking so miserable at that ungodly hour of the morning, dressed in their office wear.

Either way, the clash of night and day cultures is always fascinating.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Guess there will no longer be a reason for the overworked to be running out of the office to catch the last train anymore.

Dumb idea! outdoor events at night? What happen to the anti noise pollution laws where you can't be making a lot of noise from 8pm?

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

There are many regulations about after midnight businesses in Japan. Bars and clubs with hostesses are not allowed to operate after midnight. If they are without hostesses, it is OK. But who goes there?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

There are many regulations about after midnight businesses in Japan.

Hence the boring nightlife in Japan. If you want to have fun after hours, Japan is not a good country for that.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

I'm not a night person in the first place, but night time is when all the nasty drunkards, like salarymen, flood the streets. Not a fan of seeing them getting sick on the trains and all over the streets.

I Think this is one of the reasons they don't want run trains in the midnight, this and the costs of keeping the trains running 24/7. But I would feel a bit more comfortable knowing there is a train coming once in 30 minutes so that I don't have to rush out of nomikai's to catch the last train.

Hence the boring nightlife in Japan. If you want to have fun after hours, Japan is not a good country for that.

Really? I think Japan has a fantastic nightlife. You need to explore a little more.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Really? I think Japan has a fantastic nightlife. You need to explore a little more.

I've been out plenty. I know the nightlife exists, it's just not very good. You couldn't even dance until recently (I've literally been to bars that say 'no dancing' on the wall, and if you moved your hips a little, they had to come and stop you due to their liquor license). No transport in the late night means people sitting around waiting until first train, or rushing to make last train.

This idea of late night trains is a very good one.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Tourists, especially from Europe and the United States who emphasize nighttime entertainment when traveling, complain that Japan's nightlife can be dull -- meaning there is a huge potential for promoting more spending by foreign travelers.

Err, no. There is not "huge potential" because people from those countries are a small minority among visitors to Japan and will always be because not many Westerners have sufficient interest in Japanese culture to choose a long-haul trip to Japan over a closer beach resort, a European city, a fun destination (Vegas, New York, London, Amsterdam), or any of the other places Westerners go. Trump voters and Sun readers in the UK are not interested in slogging it round Japanese temples with jet lag when its 35C and humid. The only way they will come on en masse is on cruises, where most of the tourist dollar stays on the boat.

Japan's tourism people seem less interested in the ten birds in the hand, Asian tourists coming already, than the one in the bush, Westerners who are harder to please and face much higher travel costs. I'd like to think this has nothing to do with how Japan views different races of people, but I suspect that it does.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Readers, please stay on topic. This story is about Japan's nightlife and how to make it appeal to tourists.

papigiulioToday  09:15 am JST

I'm not a night person in the first place, but night time is when all the nasty drunkards, like salarymen, flood the streets. Not a fan of seeing them getting sick on the trains and all over the streets.

I Think this is one of the reasons they don't want run trains in the midnight, this and the costs of keeping the trains running 24/7. 

How many of those nasty drunkards are nasty and drunk because they rushed as much alcohol into their system as possible in order to "have the most enjoy" before they had to grab the final train home? Having a de facto government-imposed time limit on fun could well be contributing to the problem.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

How about running a regular bus service throughout the night along the same routes as the rail lines? That's very easy to arrange, but they will not do it.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Nightlife in Tokyo is just fine.  24 hour trains will not make a huge difference.  Biggest issue for foreigners is the language and some of the "dame-gaijin" attitude in some quarters.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

You couldn't even dance until recently (I've literally been to bars that say 'no dancing' on the wall, and if you moved your hips a little, they had to come and stop you due to their liquor license).

Yeah...agree that is one of the most ridiculous things ever.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

What about the "no dancing" at night law? Didn't they just start re-enforcing that archaic law again recently?

Trains running at night regularly is a great idea, even for locals. I remember when the last trains going out of the city were at about 11:00 p.m. (express trains, that is), and I would have to put an end to a night that had just begun unless I wanted to stay out until the morning.

"Some local municipalities are proposing night markets in parks and DJ events using street vendors."

Night markets are a great idea, but I don't see either these or the DJ things flying without severe local opposition (and then chickening out by the governments). They complain about kids playing in parks in the DAY TIME, they will most certainly be opposed to DJ parties at night. Hope they can do at least some of it, though, and not just in the lead-up to Olympics.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Imagine if there was a service in which people could use their cars to pick up people from night clubs at a fraction of the cost of a taxi, making it reliable... Imagine, a lot of people could ride the same car making it even cheaper and more reliable... Imagine you could call it from your smart phone, and pay from it, knowing where the car is and who is driving...

 

Imagine if Japan wasn't so deep into the pockets of a few industries and tries to protect them at the expense of consumers.

 

Imagine...

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Ban smoking.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Hurts the work production!

So does being extremely inefficient.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I can understand the reasons not to run 24 hour trains, but I think you can run night buses along the same routes as train lines and then the problem is solved.

When you Templed out and on a holiday in Japan it's time to start going partying until 3 a.m. for foreigners.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

what a horrible photo...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

There are many regulations about after midnight businesses in Japan. Bars and clubs with hostesses are not allowed to operate after midnight. If they are without hostesses, it is OK. But who goes there?

Please show us the proof of this statement here? In my neighborhood there are plenty of placed with hostesses that are open until the sun comes up!

So it's not just about "after midnight businesses" and the entertainment industry, in my opinion, needs to be more than just drinking.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe they should focus on safety of foreigners. 4 days ago a kansai gai-dai 20y.o american student was date raped after a japanese guy offered her drinks at a bar in Tokyo. The US embassy was contacted and she was told to go to a hospital for blood check and that was it. case closed.

Japan is a rape free country because there is no support for victims and extremely low conviction rate. Makes japan look safe but the truth is there are serial rapist roaming Tokyo because no one will report getting raped. Is this not a concern with the Tokyo Olympics coming up?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Be careful what you wish for: The hours from 12:00-06:00 are the time when foreigners will be most likely to encounter nasty, drunk types who are itching to give a foreigner verbal and physical abuse.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Let’s hope they don’t get arrested for dancing without a permit. (Roll eyes and chuckle) Japan’s nightlife evolves around the trains. That’s why you see so many businessmen either passed out or throwing up on the trains late at night in Tokyo. They get to the bar at 8-8:30 and binge-drink as much alcohol as they can before the last train and usually with minimal foods. I’m sure many tourists are going to be fascinated by this behaviour, just as I was when I first came to Japan. However, I’m no longer fascinated by it, just disgusted.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"But given a cooling off of Chinese tourists' shopping binges, once dubbed "bakugai" or "explosive shopping," spending per foreign traveler at about 150,000 yen is on the decline."

What this article doesn't mention, is why Chinese tourist shopping binges have declined. Thanks to Abe's great relations with China, China's government is imposing heavy taxes on Chinese tourists. The days of shopping sprees in Japan has gone with the wind.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Always thought that Japan as a tourist destination caters to pretty much all types of tourists.

Re local drunks, yet to find a country/city/town with a reasonable night-life where locals and visitors don't get rowdy after a few drinks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@marcelitoToday "You couldn't even dance until recently"

Definitely not the case. Ageha in Kiba, has since 1988, allowed and encouraged dancing well into the morning, has multiple stages, and is reasonably priced (2,000 to 10,000 yen depending on the number of stages going at once and stature of the artist). They open starting from 8pm to midnight, and close when everyone goes home, often 8am the next morning.

As anyone who works in Tokyo knows, taxi coupons freely flow. Even if you don't have a taxi coupon, there are hundreds of taxis outside Ageha at any given moment and it is an easy 20 minute drive to mid-town, Haneda, Chiba, and if you want to stay out but leave the venue, there are plenty of 24 hour places near the station to keep you busy.

There are so many great places to visit that don't need the government's support. They just need you to come out and support them.

I talk about Ageha as they not only accept "gaijin" but they welcome everyone. I have never had a problem. Single or as a couple, there is plenty of action there too.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Definitely not the case. Ageha in Kiba, has since 1988, allowed and encouraged dancing well into the morning

I was told by a friend who owns a bar, and to be fair, I've never fact-checked it, that Ageha was the only club in the country with a license that allowed dancing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even so, it would be difficult to operate subways around the clock like those in New York City, the Tokyo metropolitan government-run subway operator suggested.

One other thing, the inference here is that New York doesn't check?

"It wouldn't be easy because we check train tracks and the overhead wires between the last train and the first train in the morning," said an official of the subway operator.

I strongly suggest that these operators take a trip to New York and see just how they manage to keep things running safely 24/7.

This excuse is BS, just like when I first got here, ATM's were open only until 5 PM and banks closed at 3PM sharp. On holidays it was impossible to withdraw money from them too.

Public pressure and banks needing to make money, forced a change, but still bank ATM's are not open 24/7, and like the trains, it's a continuation of a cultural stereotype and no serious practical need either. They CAN very well cut down the number of trains and still do their work checking.

They are just loathe to adapt and change.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

theeastisredToday  10:38 am JST

Ban smoking.

I agree with this poster. I would definitely stay out later with my friends and family touring here as visitors if there was no smoking in restaurants and clubs at all hours. Seems like the later it gets, the more smoke there is...for only 18% of the population that so call smoke. This would definitely make it appeal to tourists who are ALL used to smoke free establishments.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The train companies own most (all?) of the taxi companies and they like it when people (like me) have to wait in long taxi lines at one in the morning. They make more money that way. No incentive or reason to change. As a New Yorker, I had no idea what a ''last train'' was and still hate it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Anyone who has ever spent time cities rich with night market culture (for example, Taipei), will know just how much they add to a city's nightlife. Tokyo's overall nightlife is OK, but it's quite exclusionary, meaning that they're not designed for "meeting people." You go to an izakaya or karaoke with a group of people, you stay in a closed space with that group of people all night, and then as a group you all go back to the station to go home. Foreign tourists are looking to chat with locals, make drunken friends, interact with the culture - not just have a private room/table for themselves. And that's an excellent bonus of night markets, which are a relaxed and easygoing place where everyone's out on the street eating and drinking at food stalls or browsing shops and vendors. (The exception to this "exclusionary" social culture is clubs, as noted above, and Tokyo has some good ones. But they're a form of entertainment that many people outgrow with age, so something more is needed.)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I hear this debate often, "just run the trains 24 hours".

The fact of the matter is, most world subway networks minus a few like new york do not run 24/7.

The ones that do run 24/7 often have lots of maintenance issues, and suffer from constant delays and constant fare increases.

There is a reason Japanese trains shut down at night, it is for maintenance work and clean up.

Keeping trains running 24/7 for the numbers that use them does not make sense financially to the railway companies.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Singapore MTR, Hong Kong MTR, London Tube, Paris Metro, Moscow Metro, all close (are not 24/7) and these aren't small dinky cities either

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I find the opposite problem. Nightlife is EASY...It's what do you do during the day if you don't have business meetings thats tough. If you go over enough, there is no need to be shopping or eating all the time. In the daytime, unless you are eating, there are few places to publicly sit. A lot of the nature has been removed (mass tree cuttings as it is too muzakashi to deal with leaves, etc..). Sky Tree- a shopping mall inside a tower- yeah so....Tokyo Tower- this is very significant for Japanese people as it represents reconstruction and modernization in the sixties- to foreigners- just a big TV antenna....Temples and Shrines are important- but many are right next to dilapidated buildings or parking lots. Asakusa- lacks an authentic feel as too many souvenir shops and the izakayas in the area don't even allow kids in the daytime.

Night time - in a CLEAN way- Japan is fantastic...Tourists just need to know its OK to go to a small counter restaurant without language ability. Everybody becomes your friend...The chef and the customers usually will do anything to help you order....there are live houses for every single niche of music worldwide everywhere....there is salsa dancing, small gallery things, there was even a Grateful Dead bar in Kita Senju.......with blogs, Facebook, and Google Maps - there are whole worlds and subcultures for anything....bars allow kids (even high end ones)....as long as you are polite and open to experiences, Japan is incredible at night...people just need to know its OK to peak in....occasionally you will get the crossed arms, "we don't need you here..." but that is getting rarer and rarer. Plus tourists would be much better off getting amazing meals for 3000 yen or less including drinks at a highly rated neighborhood place than spending 15,000 per person at their hotel.....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The idea of "nightlife" hasn't really ever caught on here, other than the mizushobai. Tourists who don't drink are going to be hard pressed to find much to do after dark, other than shop or catch a movie or a concert. Allowing people to smoke in restaurants and bars is also objectionable to a lot of people from overseas.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Lower the price of taxi's.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lower the price of taxi's.

They did in Central Tokyo from 730 base to 430 base.

How much lower would be acceptable before losing money for the taxi companies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The closure of the trains is for maintenance , which is a great idea, less breakdowns more reliable train especially at rush hour, I think Tommy the first poster said about running 2 trains an hour, good idea, but totally impractical, because if a section of over head wire needed to be replaced as it was to thin, it could take most of the night to renew a section of cable, so if you promise a reduced train time table you could not deliver either, the last thing you need in Tokyo would be that a train break down was due to poor maintenance, as for a city that parties, well I think that you will need more police and more cells to lock up drunks and deal with more crime, ie more smashed windows, puke, fighting, noise, singing, shouting, and are the local hospitals geared up for the drunken people and there injuries? and how will the Japanese judicial system deal with all of this extra influx of extra crime?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A lot of uninformed crosstalk on this thread.

Have DJed in Japan.

24 hour trains would help the nightlife industry here.

The 風営法 laws pertaining to clubs and setting the midnight limit on clubs and dancing always depended on who you knew and paid , especially the organizers, promoters connections.

There have always been businesses

operating unmolested outside the limit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lower the price of taxi's.

They did in Central Tokyo from 730 base to 430 base.

How much lower would be acceptable before losing money for the taxi companies.

They didn't lower taxi fares; they only lowered the fare for super-short sub-1-kilometer distances so that the posted minimum fare wasn't the frighteningly high number it had been.

A medium- or long-distance taxi ride will cost you just as much as it always has -- more if you remember the times before the 2014 tax hike and 2008 oil shock.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've been out after dark often enough, all over Japan, and the lack of trains doesn't bother me too much. What really gets on my nerves is three things - being charged to enter an establishment for a drink, poor entertainment (if any), and a complete lack of English signage. So, there, Japan's tourism cronies - figure that out!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Try and find a club or bar where the locals go. Apart from the dodgy ones off-limits to foreigners, it isnt such a problem. Nightlife that involves “robot and ninja dancers” are tacky tourist traps and should be avoided at all costs.

There’s my brainstorm!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yes, ban smoking!

I love dancing salsa, bachata, reggaeton, samba, electronica, etc. and one of the reasons I don't go to those places anymore is because 20 minutes at any of those places will make my clothes reek of that nasty smell. Have to live with myself, smelling like that, on the way back on the morning train, or at the Starbucks that closes at 4am in Azabujuban.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This whole thing is IMHO not because they think about the foreigners' well-being, but is a new way to make them use more money.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Definitely not the case. Ageha in Kiba, has since 1988, allowed and encouraged dancing well into the mornin

Yes, you're right about Ageha. There has been other places like Café Latino, Paraíso, Camelot, Womb that allowed you to dance all night long. But there was also a law that prohibit dancing after midnight. I experienced parties at night like Decadance when the cops would fill the place and shut down the party, even tho those were monthly parties. And there were other places in Roppongi with signs saying that no dancing was allowed.

While it was possible to dance all this time at many places, legally and officially, it's just a recent thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BurakuminDes

Yes, agreed. I do not know what people see in Kabukicho.

As for the off-limit establishments, they have not yet grasped the concept that people can spend their money elsewhere. Never seen one in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong etc. Maybe "that sign" is the only thing that is unique in Japan.

But you are right. There are suburb establishments out in the sticks. Promote them more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

..as long as you are polite and open to experiences, Japan is incredible at night..

There is much truth in what you say, yet sadly the politeness part gets lost in translation too many times and the negative consequences of confrontations get amplified and overly distorted because of incidents between foreigners and Japanese....the misconception that "A Japanese would never do that" becomes a fact when it reality its just plain BS.

Japanese people are very friendly and helpful true, but I lay that all aside when alcohol gets included into the conversation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ strangerland

I've been out plenty. I know the nightlife exists, it's just not very good. You couldn't even dance until recently (I've literally been to bars that say 'no dancing' on the wall, and if you moved your hips a little, they had to come and stop you due to their liquor license).

There's more entertainment than waterholes frequented by US servicemen :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan needs more tourists from countries on the European continent.

Many Japanese, who've never been to the West, may learn that there are more considerate whites than they are used to :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's more entertainment than waterholes frequented by US servicemen :)

I know there are, as I've never been to a place for US servicemen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Strangerland

Check out where she spins so that you can move your hips :)

https://youtu.be/W5N-ltLKjjk

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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