Japan's Best Clubs - exploring the country's innovative and exciting scene
Japan’s club scene boasts a vibrant mixture of commercial and underground music genres and no shortage of first-rate venues. Despite post-WW2 legislation that banned dancing in almost all clubs, the scene thrived for almost 20 years. The widely unenforced law, which was eventually relaxed in 2015, did little to prevent Japanese clubbers moving their feet. Consequently the country now has an established, diverse and exciting club scene. Here, with the support of DJ Mag Japan, we explore some of the country’s best clubs...
The Grand Master of Japan’s club scene, WOMB is a Tokyo institution. The club opened – almost two decades ago – as a fresh concept for Japan, which was lacking any major spaces for electronic music. Since then, they have been dedicated in their mission of bringing the best of dance music to the Shibuya district of Tokyo, where the 1,000 capacity club resides.
Through collaborations with iconic international venues such as London’s Fabric, Space Ibiza and Brazil’s D-Edge, WOMB introduced a generation of Japanese clubbers to electronic music. While this legacy stands foremost, WOMB isn’t stuck in the past. In the last year, they’ve hosted Marco Carola, Diplo, Danny Tenaglia, Sven Väth, High Contrast and Solomun.
Meanwhile the foundations of the venue’s programming remains solid. Resident DJ Aki is a master of drum & bass; the club’s regular SESSION party caters for house and techno fans; and the bass music scene — a fast rising youth movement in Japan — get down at the regular NUO parties.
With room for 2,400 dance music devotees, the huge, sprawling AgeHa is Japan’s biggest nightclub. More than half-a-million clubbers visit the club each year, to experience its four dancefloors, outdoor pool and park area. And the DJs help too!
Earlier this year New York dons Masters at Work hooked up with, veteran Tokyo DJ, Muro at the club. And maintaining the NY spirit, legendary Sound Factory resident Junior Vasquez made a rare appearance outside of the Big Apple.
Club Piccadilly has been pushing upfront club sounds in the heart of Osaka’s business district Umeda for five years. A striking and unique venue modelled on an old movie theatre, the club aspires to the classic Piccadilly Circus spirit, where all cultures and energies collide under a neon sky. Major league DJs collide there, too. Local turntablist hero B=Ball hosts LA beat-style events every Friday, while Saturday is all about the heavyweight EDM action with the likes of Will Sparks,Oliver Heldens, Tujamo and many more.
Contact is a haven for Tokyo’s techno community. The intimate venue, with exposed breeze blocks, low ceiling and raw architecture, has hosted some of the scene’s biggest artists, providing a rare and special opportunity to catch artists such as Richie Hawtin or Ben Klock up close and personal.
Readers of DJ Mag Japan voted Camelot the country’s second best club in last year’s Best of Japan poll. The 1,500 capacity space in Tokyo’s Shibuya district attracts an international crowd. The wide main room, with a raised central DJ booth creates an incredible atmosphere when guest DJs are in town. Recent performances from future house star Oliver Heldens and Bingo Players have been highlights.
V2 is one of Tokyo’s more high-end venues. With a large glass chandelier hanging over the dance floor, confetti near-constantly raining down from the ceiling and acrobats performing above the crowd, it’s a multi-sensory treat. Sitting on the Las Vegas end of the nightclub scale, the musical template favours the biggest EDM acts. DJs from Mars, Kura and Chuckie have all headlined recently. V2 has also hosted an Ultra Singapore launch party and hosted an afterparty when Ultra Japan kicked off last month.
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