Links to useful open mic guides to Tokyo:
– Obviously, this is not a list of open mics, but this guide to Live Houses in Tokyo is excellent.
– And while we’re at it, here’s a Live House for the whole country of Japan!
Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Tokyo:
The first thing to keep in mind when coming to Japan and looking for places to play music, is that while there are such things called open mics, there is another phenomenon that you must know about, and that is the ubiquitous “Live House.” Live Houses come in various forms, but generally what they are are bars with live music, or music venues that people can rent out by the time clock for a fee and then invite people to come and hear…and pay back the rental fee in their spendings. But Live Houses can also be places that hold open mics and open jams of the kind I focus on with my list. So aside from my limited list, the place to start looking for places to play in Japan is a Live House. Just find one, then see how they operate. They may have an open mic or an open jam – or you may want to rent the room for your half hour or so slot. Like many places on my worldwide tour, in Japan I have played at some places that are not on this list, but I cannot confirm still exist, or that I know have ceased to exist. Here in any case are the ones I have attended and that are still in existence, and I will soon add a list of ones that I have heard of or had recommended, under a different category from those I have attended myself:
Monday – Bauhaus, Monday to Saturday, Reine Roppongi 2F, 5-3-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032, Roppongi Station 3 min. walk, Tel 03-3403-0092, 19:00 – 1:00, an institution in Roppongi, right next to the Hard Rock Café and around the corner from the Cavern Club, Bauhaus is less well known, but it’s the most musical place there. It has existed since 1981, and is basically made of a band that features the regular house musicians and the waiters who play and sing as well, called up to the stage throughout the evening. But it’s on my list because if you know any of the songs that the band plays – the list comprises most of the most famous pop and rock songs of the last 50 years – and if you can play them on an instrument and/or sing them, then you can ask to join the band and take part – like an open mic, open jam, live Karaoke. I even stayed late and jammed with the band for around 45 minutes until close to 2 AM when many of the customers had left. So this place is clearly in the world of the open mic, even if that is not strictly speaking what it is.
Tuesday – Ruby Room, 4東京都 渋谷区 道玄坂 2-25-17 カスミビル , Kasumi Bldg 2-25-17 Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, TEL: 03-3780-3022, EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org It’s the Ruby Room and so they call it Ruby Tuesdays, and that, well, that’s the open mic night at this hip and cool joint in Shibuya. Doors open at 7:00 PM, but get there earlier if you want to have full choice of the spot you sign up for. There is a small cover charge to get in, but that covers the beer you’ll get for it – so it’s not really a cover charge, it’s something to ensure that you’ll be a paying customer. The room is hip and cool, with a mirror-chip bar and neat furniture, including a round little table room covered off in the corner…. What makes this a really fun open mic is there is a complete cross-section of musical styles, and more Japanese than foreigners, but a health number of all. The stage is big enough to hold its drum set and a full band, but while the open mic accepts full bands, it is also devoted to singer songwriters. Really, an open mic par excellence, and a great place to meet people.