The Audiophile Bars of Tokyo

  • 2 min read

Years ago when traveling to Japan, my wife Bea and I stopped into an Audiophile bar for the first time, Bar Track in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was like transporting to a new world, one I knew I wanted to spend a lot of time in.

Audiophile bars, for those not familiar, are notable for their perfectly assembled sounds systems - usually a mixture of Tannoy speakers, McIntosh tube amplifiers, and vintage record players - as beautiful to the eyes as they are stimulating to the ears.

Also unique, is that no one talks in an audiophile bar; instead they listen, which is why they're often referred to as "listening bars" too. It might sound odd to go to a bar and sit in silence, but once you experience it first hand you won't think it's odd any longer - it's incredibly cool. While it's not ideal for a first date - go with someone you know well, or even solo (I did that one night myself) - it's a wonderful experience to sit in silence and enjoy the music, really taste the liquor, feel the bar, live in the decor, together. You can talk about it when you leave. 

Part of what makes it work so well, is that the DJ is incredibly in tune with the audience, somehow picking the perfect tracks to set the mood, again and again. It’s not unusual to hear three songs from completely different genres played back to back to back, that have nothing to do with one another, yet somehow sound as if they were recorded in the same room.

The bartenders are also a big part of the experience, mixing world class cocktails, and serving classics like the Japanese High Ball and top notch Japanese whiskeys. Clouds of smoke billow through the club (smoking is legal in bars in Tokyo), which in this case actually enhances the environment, making you feel as if this new world you’ve entered is also situated in the past. There’s really nothing like hearing the perfect Jazz record on the perfect sound system, while sipping Japanese whisky and enjoying a Cuban cigar (also readily available in Japan).

We visited at least 3-4 more Audiophile bars before leaving Tokyo on that trip. For those interested, here’s a few of our favorites:

Bar Track & Bar Martha


Little Soul Cafe

We created a playlist centered around music heard in those bars, adding a few selections of our own which felt like they’d have fit right in.

If you’re headed to Japan and want some advice on other places to go, drop me a line here: