Roppongi (六本木) is a Minato Ward district of Tokyo, Japan. Well known as the home of the massive Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown developments, Roppongi is also home to many night clubs, as well as a large population of Western expatriates and tourists. It can be reached on the southern half of the Yamanote Line loop just past Akasaka.
The name of the Roppongi district was originally used in 1660 to describe “Six Trees”, a reference to six daimyo that lived nearby in the Edo period, each of them with the Kanji for tree in their name. While the name has been around since the 17th century, the district itself was not largely populated until after the Meiji Restoration.
When the Third Imperial Guard was moved to Roppongi in 1890, it started to develop its reputation as a nightlife district, though much of its development during the Meiji period was destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
After its secondary destruction in World War II, Roppongi was partially occupied by US and Allied military forces, prompting the reputation the district has as a haven for foreign residents. Hardy Barracks and many other large military installations were located here and many western style shops bars and restaurants soon popped up to accommodate them. The 1960s saw a surge of interest in Roppongi’s disco and nightlife scene, drawing many famous and popular Japanese citizens to the district at night. Many of these night clubs have since shut down due to the recession of the 1990s however.
The Roppongi district once again started to boom again in 2003 when the Izumi Garden Tower and Roppongi Hills were completed, drawing major economic and residential traffic to the neighborhood. Tokyo Midtown only added to the trend in 2006.
Despite many of the nightclubs closing in the 1990s, a great deal have reopened in recent years including multiple bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hostess clubs, cabarets, and strip clubs. Restaurants range from everything including upscale Japanese names to simple American chains while clubs like 7th Heaven are known as high class strip clubs and Lexington Queen draws a great deal of celebrity interest as a nightclub. Many of the clubs and hot spots in Roppongi today still cater to a very specific clientele of Western expatriates, including business men, students, and military personnel that are stationed in Tokyo.