The right music can elevate a date from “somewhat awkward” to “actually memorable.” Although the point of a rendezvous is to get to know someone and see what romantic compatibility, if any, exists, nobody wants to chit-chat against a backdrop of silence. You want a sound to help define the moment and make it all the more memorable…or, like, distract you until you can make a smooth exit.
Ostensibly, this list of romantic places in Tokyo with a musical bent should help you organize any Valentine’s Day plans with that special someone. But don’t let the “February 2017” on the front of the magazine scare you off. These destinations are optimal for a get-together with anyone who’s into music at any time of the year, offering great backdrops for chatting (don’t expect any metal venues here) and hearing great tunes.
For A Lively Blast From The Past — Yoyogi Milk Hall
Located steps away from JR Yoyogi Station, Yoyogi Milk Hall offers a retro bar experience in a fun—but never too loud—setting. As the album jackets lining the wall and the pop tunes playing throughout the venue indicate, this joint celebrates all things Showa Japan. What separates Milk Hall from similar throwbacks is how it doesn’t feel too goofy. Your date won’t feel like you took them to a cheesy theme park, but rather a lively place with a great atmosphere and a great soundtrack of golden-era Japanese pop hits. Try the crickets while you’re at it—crunchy and affordable!
Paris Bldg., 1-32-12 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Yoyogi. Tel: 03-6859-6700. 4:15pm-1am. www.tokyo-modernclub.com/milkhall
To Set The Mood With Late Night Jazz — Electrik Jinja
Electrik Jinja in Roppongi really gets going late, making it an ideal spot for an after-work get-together or a hip destination for two night owls. Their schedule runs from band performances to deep-into-the-night jam sessions to DJ nights, so checking out their schedule online is a good way to plan when to go. Whatever the case, Electrik Jinja has a laid-back vibe perfect for a night of talk and drinks, while jazz plays seductively in the background. And if you really hit it off, their late hours will allow you to hang around and chat more instead of wandering around the streets aimlessly.
Dai-ni Chiyo Bldg., 5-9-22 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Azabu-juban. Tel: 03-3478-3363. 7pm-5am. Email: email@example.com. ww.facebook.com/electrik.jinja.official
For More Intimate Conversation — Lion
In theory, the rules in place at Shibuya’s Lion cafe should make it a no-go for a date. Tucked away in Dogenzaka’s backstreets, this quaint space plays classical music out of an impressive sound system. The emphasis on audio excellence, though, comes with rules such as no photos or no loud talking, the latter being a pretty central component of getting to know someone. Yet in a nice twist, this limitation actually makes conversation easier and more intimate—whispering with one another is OK, so it’s easier to focus on each other in this surprisingly romantic spot. One other benefit—despite a reputation as one of Tokyo’s least-secret secrets, this place always has ample seating, so you’ll have plenty of space and time for one another.
2-19-13 Dougenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Nrt Stn: Shibuya. Tel: 03-3461-6858. 11am-10:30pm.
For Those Wanna Lead — 80’s 90’s
Why let some other person dictate the music you hear on a date when you can handle it yourself? Sangenjaya’s 80’s 90’s bar—formerly just Toki 80’s, but perhaps you heard the 90’s are back —lets you put in song requests, and their system can pull up nearly anything. Don’t let the posters of Bon Jovi scare you; you can select songs from any era. This activity can make for a fun conversation starter, or help you gain insight into what tastes the person sitting across from you has. Drinks cost ¥500, but can be quite tasty. And anyway, more than a few Long Island Iced Teas will probably send your date downhill really fast.
Shinko Bldg., 2F, 4-29-13 Taishido, Setagaya-ku. Sangenjaya. Tel: 03-3487-4665. 7pm-5am. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.toki80s.jp
For Those Who Really Want To Roll The Dice — DearStage
Look, this one isn’t going to sound easy—“yeah, let’s go check out an underground J-Pop idol venue, it will be great.” You might very well never hear from the person on the other side of the message again. But sometimes you have to risk it all for a great date. DearStage in Akihabara hosts fledgling pop idol groups in an indie setting, complete with drinks and the chance to meet the performers afterwards. If that special someone is a fan of the group Dempagumi.inc, then you’ll be set taking them to the very spot where the group cut their teeth. It’s a good chance to get the idol experience on a much smaller scale and, most importantly, it’s unique. And truly great dates are memorable, so why not take it to the extreme?
DEMPA Bldg., 3-10-9 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku. Akihabara. Tel: 03-5207-9181. Mon-Fri 6pm-10:50pm. Sat-Sun, hol. 5pm-10:50pm. dearstage.com