A Tokyo Nightlife Maven Tells Us Where the Cool Kids Flock to Party

By Mai Ann Nguyen-Miyoshi / As told to Abby Schreiber
Each week in our new column, "No Sleep Til...," we'll be talking to cool kids around the globe, asking them to fill us in about the bands, DJs, music venues and night spots they and their friends are obsessing over. Next time you visit their home city, leave your Fodor's and Lonely Planet guides behind and go party like a local instead.

Name?

Mai Ann Nguyen-Miyoshi a.k.a @maisassygirl

Age?

35

Where do you live?

TOKYO

What do you do?

Buzz Creator, Cultural Attache, Freelance PR, Party Blogger, English Teacher, and recently full time mother

What Japanese bands or DJs are you obsessed with and that you think we should know about?

My favorite DJs are Shinichi Osawa, Chaki from Lowbrows, Peli, and FPM (Tomoyuki Tanaka). This list can go one forever...

As for bands, [I like] TRIPPPLE NIPPPLES and AKB48!

How did you discover all of them?

I discovered the DJs at clubs because I used to party every day / 7 days a week and became friends with them. The TRIPPPLE NIPPPLES members used to perform at some events I went to and because they are so creative and cool, I immediately became a fan! They definitely represent Tokyo. AKB48 is an idol group of 48 girls. The group is actually split into smaller groups but the main girls in the group have the most catchy popular songs you will ever hear and everyone who listens to them will become obsessed.

What types of music do these bands and DJs make?

Shinichi Osawa, Chaki from Lowbrows and FPM are all electro DJs. My favorite Shinichi Osawa remix is "What a Feeling" by Namie Amuro. I can't really pinpoint my favorite remixes from Chaki and FPM but their DJ sets always rock the floor! DJ Peli is my favorite Tokyo fashion icon and has the best selection of music. She plays more oldies, rock, alternative, and rockabilly-style songs and also mixes in electro and other things depending on the parties. She became the resident DJ at Le Baron as well. She also recently launched her own brand PAMEO POSE which you can find more info on her website.

TRIPPPLE NIPPPLES are an electropop band and THEY ARE SOOOOOOO RAD AND STRANGE at the same time and their music rocks! AKB48 on the other hand sound like catchy anime music...my favorite song of theirs is "Heavy Rotation." They actually did the song "Sugar Rush" at the end of Wreck it Ralph, too. They are one of those bands that people don't admit to liking but secretly wish they were part of the group. They also occupy every billboard and most advertisements in Japan.

Where are the cool places to see live music in Tokyo?

There are many live houses but I don't know if being 'cool' or not matters. Of course we have Blue Note and Billboard Tokyo but the young kids can't really afford to go there. Tokyo Zepp is also a famous live house and if an artist is playing there it usually means they are getting popular or are doing really well. Sometimes there are small live events that take place earlier in the evening at club venues like Vision, Womb, AGEHA, Unit, and Liquidroom. For club music, I love Vision in Shibuya and Club Air in Daikanyama. Womb in Shibuya is also great but can get quite sweaty and gross so I often just hang out in the VIP upstairs. Music lovers will usually go to Vision, Air, Womb and AGEHA because those clubs bring the best DJs from all over the world and the capacity is quite huge. For the absolute best sound system and for famous DJs from all over the world AGEHA in Shin-Kiba is the most well-known club. It can fit over 2,000 people! It's not so close to central Tokyo so it's difficult to trek out there everyday. There is a shuttle bus from Shibuya that can take you there in 20 minutes. People usually have to stay there until the first train starts again or travel back on the shuttle bus with super drunk people (that's not so fun). Vision in Shibuya, which opened a little over a year ago, is becoming one of the most popular places to go now. They also host a lot of fashion events and fashion after parties. It's new so it's the new 'it' place to go. Also, Village is a new club that took over Warehouse 702 in Azabu Juban and is known for being where all the hip-hop lovers go and DJ. Biz Markie did a live there the other day! Also Will.i.am and Far East Movement went there when they came through town.  As for what type of crowds go where, people follow the music and don't really care about the place. If Katy Perry is doing a secret live set at Ageha, everyone will travel out of Tokyo to see her.

Describe your perfect night out in Tokyo.

Before I became a mom, my life was really flexible. I basically worked freelance so I made my own schedule and could do whatever I liked, whenever I liked. Since I was able to attend events from 6pm and go to clubs until morning, every day was basically like a weekend for me. When the actual weekend came, there were more parties I had to attend so to be honest, I liked doing the more relaxed things -- like catching a movie with a friend -- on weeknights because it was less crowded. [Before I had a baby], my perfect night in Tokyo would be to have a nice dinner with a bunch of my close friends. I really like the restaurant Kinsai in Nakameguro. After that, I would go sing karaoke for a few hours because singing rocks. A few drinks in, we would head to our first club by midnight. If DJ friends were playing at different venues, I usually make a schedule of how I would travel around to each club. For example, Dinner in Nakameguro, karaoke in Nakameguro, DJ Peli at Trump Room in Shibuya, walk to see Chaki from Lowbrows at Womb in Shibuya, then walk to see FPM at Vision in Shibuya, then save the best for last and stay all night at Daikanyama Air to see Shinichi Osawa. Now that I'm a mom, it's important to keep a routine for my baby and my schedule is not as flexible as before.

What's your favorite bar/nightclub?

This is a tough one because I shouldn't be biased. I usually go to where my friends are organizing [events], partying, or DJing. I used to go to Le Baron in Aoyama a lot. Most of the fashion people used to party here and some still do. Le Baron is more of a lounge atmosphere so people don't really go there to dance but more to mingle and drink. It used to be more exclusive but has changed a lot over the years. For more underground and crazy with all the funky fashion Harajuku kids, Trump Room is definitely the fun place to go.

The cool neighborhoods are, of course, Harajuku as well as Shibuya, Daikanyama, Nakameguro, Aoyama, and Omotesando. It depends on what you're into but those places have the best shopping, food, and people watching experiences.

What's a bar or nightclub you would NEVER go to in Tokyo?

I would never go to nor recommend Heartland in Roppongi. You will never meet locals or fashion people there and I feel like it's filled with foreigners who aren't in Japan to appreciate Japanese culture. It can be quite cheesy and annoying. It might be an easy place for those who only want to be around English speakers but it's not really my cup of tea. Sorry Heartland.

Check out Mai Ann's band and DJ recs:

TRIPPPLE NIPPPLES -- "L.S.D."


AKB48 -- "Heavy Rotation"


Shinichi Osawa -- "What a Feeling" Remix


FPM -- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Remix

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