Hidden in one of the many back alleys of Tokyo’s Yoyogi neighborhood is an open gate into Yoyogi Village, a quaint neighborhood of small eat-ins. But if you venture further down the path, you’ll find even more grandeur. With its motto, “The best music in the best sound quality,” Yoyogi Village Music Bar is a hole-in-the-wall that will have you wondering, “Why am I only hearing about this place now?”
Yoyogi Village invites you to walk through a forest-like pathway that leads to one final destination: a towering building which reads “code kurkku” in protruding block letters. Code Kurkku is an Italian restaurant inspired by Japanese cuisine that integrates fine dining into a natural ambiance. The simple wooden interior gives a modern natural architecture feel, while providing service and food fit for royalty. If you’re looking for a trendier vibe that’s easier on your wallet, follow the sound of pulsing music next door.
Across from the lavish Code Kurkku restaurant, sectioned off by a reception floor with a mesmerizing wall of plants, is the underground-themed Music Bar. From the subtle touch of extravagance to the grungy interior of a rockstar’s living room, this speakeasy bar is every hipster’s perfect hideaway.
The first few strides into Music Bar are overwhelming. You’ll be immediately awe-struck by some of the greatest sound quality you can find in Tokyo and a selection of 3,000 hand-selected vinyl records on display. Not to mention that there are over 100 whiskies and other liquor bottles that sit in immaculately displayed rows just behind the bartender, with a warm orange spotlight emanating from the base of shelf like it’s displaying the holy grail. Cloaked in a comfortable dimness, you can just make out the stylish graffiti on the brick wall. A waiter will seat you in one of many unique chairs that match the quaint nature of Yoyogi Village, or you may find yourself on a plush sofa or bar stool. From the moment you sink into your seat, you’re transported into a state of forgetfulness. Here, it’s only you and the music.
In 2012, Yoyogi Village Music Bar was created to fit an idea. This idea was to provide the best music for a crowd—a DJ to feel the mood, if not create it—while giving the sense of having drinks in Lou Reed’s basement. Although these seats are generally sectioned for pairs, there’s a sense of camaraderie knowing that the table next to you is digging the same style of music.
The music is respected mainly down to the involvement of Takeshi Kobayashi, a record producer, composer and musician with a name recognizable all across the country. With his expertise in the music industry, Kobayashi personally selects every record that sits on the shelf. And with a specialized Tannoy sound system imported from England at both ends of the bar, there’s always something for customers to gush over in the form of indie rock, lo-fi pop, jazz, house and soul.
The bar serves no run-of-the-mill food either. Working together with the Japanese-Italian restaurant next door, the Music Bar may as well be marketed as a restaurant. You can expect a good variety of tsumami, or bar snacks, and entree meals of pizza, spaghetti, meat and more. For a better look into the menu, check out the official Music Bar website.
Yoyogi Village’s Music Bar may not host the most international crowd, but that doesn’t stop it from trying. The DJs, bartenders and hall staff share a close bond that extends warmly to the customers—Japanese or not. Feel free to bring your friends, but larger groups (6+ people) may be subject to a table in the main reception. While earlier hours are typically slow, later hours may be packed depending on the day. For a guaranteed spot and for more information on a group table, reservations and inquiries can be made at 03-6276-8440 (Japanese only).
Whether it’s for a date, an escape from reality, a friendly get-together or a profound respect for good music, drinks and food, Yoyogi Village Music Bar is a visit that’s well worth your time. It is open everyday from 6pm to 3am, excluding Sundays (6pm–12am). Seating/music charge is ¥500.
Every second Thursday of the month, Music Bar hosts the event Thursday Salon (木曜サロン) where the bar transforms into a casual club with a handful of talented DJs to pump up the crowd. Genres range from house, trance, EDM and new wave. Drinks are discounted and seating charge is free.
Yoyogi Village Music Bar, 1-28-9 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0053
Hours: Monday–Saturday (6pm–3am), Sunday (6pm–12am)