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Roppongi (which means literally "Six Trees"), the scourge of Tokyo.  Roppongi has some upscale areas, including Roppongi hills, which boasts some of the most expensive apartments in Japan.  Also in Roppongi hills is a very nice movie theater, and the famous Mori building.  Roppongi mid-town also has some nice shopping areas, and fine dining abounds.

Roppongi Crossing:
Most people think of a seedier side when they hear Roppongi, however, and that area is located around Roppongi Crossing.  Roppongi is reputed to be the designated playground for foreigners, but there's more to it than that.  Roppongi is also the single most dangerous place in Japan in many ways.  For better or worse, there are regular fights and police crackdowns on drugs and other illegal activities, and this is almost always blamed on the higher than normal concentration of foreigners in the area.  First, be warned: Drugs aren't just illegal in Japan, they're very illegal and not taken lightly.  If you get caught with illegal substances, you'd better hope you get deported, because that would be preferable to rotting away in a Japanese prison for years to come.

Note that most of the clubs in Roppongi start around 11pm or so, which means if you arrive at 8pm ready to party, you will find yourself alone at even the most popular places.  On the other hand, most places remain open (and even busy) until after the sun comes up again.

Typical Crowd:
If you are a visiting tourist looking for a place where people understand English and you are welcome, then you are in luck.  On the other hand, you have to realize that everyone else also thinks the same way, and thus Roppongi has a reputation for having the lowest common denominator of foreigners.  If seems if people know nothing else when they come to Japan they know the word "Roppongi".  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but everyone blindly heading there makes it a bit too easy to get fleeced too.  That said, different clubs have different clientele, so you may want to try a few to see what works for you.  There's no reason you need to stay in Roppongi, in fact, particularly earlier in the evening I would recommend Shibuya, Shinjuku, or another nightlife spot.

Rip-Off Alert

Secondly, there are many shady shops that cater mainly to foreigners, and when I say "cater to", I mean "rip off".  This is particularly true of strip clubs and similar establishments (clip joints).  The typical ruse is this: A black guy (and I don't mean to be racist, but they are nearly always black and male) will lure you into some club with promises like "Just 5000 yen for all you can drink", and then you will eventually be hit with a huge bill in the thousands of dollars range once you are good and drunk.  If you don't pay, they will threaten to call the police, or simply beat you up.  Usually these "charges" are added because buying drinks for the girls isn't free, but sometimes $300 to $400 USD per small bottle, and of course there is no proper accounting to see how much you've racked up until you bill comes.  Alternatively, they might simply show you a reasonable number, and then add a few zeros to it before they charge your card.  Worse yet, the police are likely to see this as your fault if you're a foreigner.  

So we can offer the following suggestions to protect yourself and your wallet:
1. Don't carry a credit card when going to Roppongi if you don't know what you are doing.  Take out the amount of cash you are willing to spend and bring it with you.
2. Ignore any annoying Nigerian guys following you on the street with promises of great things for cheap prices.  There's nothing cheap in Roppongi, and certainly don't follow them into any suspicious looking shops.  If you think it might be a scam, it probably is.
3. Wherever you go, if it's not pay-as-you-go, make sure to inquire the price of every single thing you order and keep a tab yourself.  You can always mention up front "I only have $300 with me, so make sure you tell me if I am going to go over that," or similar.  That way if you "accidentally" go over, it's their fault, not yours.
4. Stick to places that seem to be run and staffed mainly by Japanese people.  Many of the illegitimate joints have large numbers of Nigerian, Russian, and Chinese immigrants (often illegal immigrants) working there, because they will work for less, and are more likely to know English.
5. This may sound strange, but as a general rule, the places on the ground floor or basement aren't as likely to be scams as the places on the higher floors.  I don't know why this true, but it is.  (There are exceptions, of course).  Be especially careful if an elevator is the only way in/out.
6. Be aware that the can and sometimes do drug drinks to make customers pass out.

The Bright Side:
The above aside, there are a few good normal clubs and bars in Roppongi.  A good example is "911", located underground near Roppongi crossing.  The music is good, and the crowd is interesting.  If you are looking for something a little less fancy than 911, there is a place nearly across the street called "The First Bar".  It's not quite as upscale, but the drinks are more than fine.  It can be very crowded during the popular times, but the drinks are good, and sometimes the crowd is interesting.  If you are looking for a place that's cheap even if a bit grubby, then you are looking for GasPanic.  

If you go to Roppongi at night for partying, be aware that it is only serviced by the Subway, and if you go out late, you will almost certainly have to either wait for the trains to start again around 5am, or take a taxi home (which isn't cheap).  

Better clubs
Check out our Yamanote Style night-spot guide to find more great clubs.

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