One of the things that tourists like to do when they go to Japan is visit the renowned Roppongi district. It has always been important historically, but has evolved to meet more modern needs with a contemporary feel. Nowadays, it is well known for having a thriving art scene and as being a place for the better nightlife in Tokyo. While some of this is true and many places in Roppongi are great to stop by, the consensus says that this district may not be all that people claim.
Roppongi is filled with restaurants, most of them serving food from around the world. And though quite a few of them are known for having good fare, if you’re looking for Japanese food you might be in the wrong place. There is also plenty of shopping in Roppongi. The latest and the greatest are on display to purchase, so if you’re looking for a high-class shopping spree, this is a good location to do it.
The nightlife, while often bustling, can be a hit-or-miss situation. There are many popular clubs filled with people from all over the world. Unfortunately, U.S. soldiers are infamous for frequenting Roppongi nightspots and making a mess by starting brawls. If you want to meet some actual Japanese people in a more relaxed environment, consider one of the smaller places instead of the big-name nightclubs.
What Roppongi does have that is worth a visit is the Roppongi Hills building. If you travel to the 52nd floor you will find Tokyo City View - a glass-walled observatory of sorts where one can get an awesome view of Tokyo. I suggest going up there at night to see the lights of the city. Right above that is the Mori Art Museum, for those looking for a culture break.
None of the entertainment in Roppongi is cheap, however. Expect to pay up to twice as much for the same sort of thing you would find in other areas of the city. In Tokyo, where everything is expensive already, this can be a real wallet-breaker for all but the wealthiest of tourists.
Some people, including a great number of locals, call Roppongi nothing more than a tourist trap. No doubt it is, considering the popularity of the area, and so if you’re looking for a more genuine Japan you’ll probably have to go somewhere else. Also, you should watch out for shopkeepers in the district. Many are known for trying to take advantage of foreigners by ripping them off.
One could think of Roppongi as similar to the U.S.’s Hollywood, where the constant flood of visitors has turned it into an area that makes its money almost solely from tourism. Thus, the feel of it is mostly artificial. It may not be the place to go if you’re looking for a “Japanese” Japan experience, but everyone should stop through to have a look at least once.