Roppongi is best known as an upscale office and residential area. Office complexes such as the massive Roppongi Hills building are home to top international companies (e.g. Goldman Sachs).
It's also home to several embassies including The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain and Sweden.
Roppongi is also one of Tokyo's top nightlife areas. It all started in 1890 when the Japanese government opened a military installation in the area (Third Imperial Guard of the Imperial Japanese Army). Pool halls and drinking establishments sprang up overnight.
Roppongi was completely destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and again by American bombing raids during WWII. After the war it was again home to a military installation — this time it was Hardy Barracks (US).
After WWII, Roppongi became known as the foreign (gaijin) district of Tokyo. Its nightlife continued to bloom. Many of Tokyo's top discos of the 1960s and 1970s were in Roppongi.
In the 1980s, Roppongi was home to a massive club called TSK:CCC (Celebrity Choice Club). The seven story establishment had a reported price tag approaching half a billion dollars US. The club featured spas, a tennis court and a hospital. It was associated with the Yakuza. CCC was frequented by Japan's top politicians and celebrities.
Today, the CCC club is long gone. However, Roppongi is still home to over 300 bars and clubs. It's known for it's expensive hostess clubs, bars (some of which are infamous) and large nightclubs.
In 2009, the infamy of Roppongi's nightlife was confirmed after the US Embassy warned its citizens to avoid Roppongi bars. The warning was issued after a series of robberies by clubs in the area. Most of the victims had gone to bars with touts they met on the street. An excerpt from the warning reads:
Typically, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious for several hours, during which time large sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card or the card is stolen outright. Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street.
... this type of crime is already widespread in Roppongi bars and is on the rise. ~ Embassy of the United States, Tokyo Japan
Despite the warnings, Roppongi nightlife continues to thrive. The area has upscale bars frequented by captains of industry. It also has the roughest establishments in all of Tokyo.
The after-hours scene sees Roppongi clubs open until 10 AM or later any night of the week.
Roppongi is ranked #8 of 12 best Tokyo neighborhoods for hotels