People wandering around Kokubunchô. (Photo: Julie Sergent)

Night Life in Kokubunchô, Sendai

Neon lights, alcohol, fun, repeat

People wandering around Kokubunchô. (Photo: Julie Sergent)
Julie Sergent   - 3 min read

Kokubunchô is the largest entertainment district throughout Tohoku and is located in the center of Sendai, in Miyagi Prefecture. About 3000 restaurants and bars are located there. Many people flock to this area every day, specifically during the weekend after a long week of work. The area is composed of various restaurants, Izakaya (Japanese style pubs), bars, nightclubs, etc . If you are looking to party, you came to the right place.

Neon lights, animated conversations, and a warm atmosphere are the characteristics that define the most lively district of Sendai. Kokubunchô is basically divided into three distinct zones. The first one with cheap food outlets, and pachinko shops. The next area is mostly occupied by salarymen (office employees), restaurants and bars are of better quality, slightly more expensive and generally playing a little more on the traditional Japanese restaurant side. Finally, there is the "pink zone" which is the part composed of girls bars, also commonly called "host or hostess clubs", entry fees are usually recurring and they push you to the consumption. Be ready to blaze your budget in this type of establishment.

In this neighborhood that exudes diversity, two types of people are on their way to a nomikai (an all-you-can drink outing): students and office workers both walk in the streets in search of many bars and restaurants. They are making their way among the touts extolling the qualities of their establishment and distributing coupons. That is to say that Japanese are also reputed to know the art of relaxation after a hard day's work, this is why the concept of "nomihodai" is a great success in the country. This formula allows you to drink at will (all-you-can-drink) for a certain amount and time imposed (between 90 to 120 minutes). Depending on location some seat fees may be charged, or in addition, you’ll be strongly encouraged to order food aside your drinks.

The selection of restaurants in Kokubunchô is probably the most diverse in the city. There are several tapas places, traditional Japanese restaurants, English pubs etc ... It is therefore the ideal place to sample some great specialties like the popular Sendai Gyutan (beef tongue) which is grilled and served with ox tail soup and barley rice.

If your budget does not allow you to enjoy the facilities in this area, it is just as much fun to walk along the narrow alleys and imbibe yourself from the surrounding turmoil. The scenery that offered Kokubunchô makes me reminiscent of some manga in which our favorite characters come to life in these tumultuous scenes. We are witnessing funny scenes between the joyful and festive salarymen and these young people looking for nightlife adventure. I hearsay that there would be a miniature version of the Arc de Triomphe, I have unfortunately not been able to find it, but this is the opportunity for you to discover this French replica between bars and restaurants in this dynamic area of Japan.

Julie Sergent

Julie Sergent @julie.sergent

After three years immersed in my Japanese Language and Culture degree, (focussing on Japanese Literature, History and the Arts), I moved to Japan in June to work as a teacher of French and English. I am passionate about language acquisition (mastering the Japanese language to fluency), and travel...