Omoide Yokocho – Memory Lane

Heading on from the dizzying heights of the Government Buildings we head back into the heart of Shinjuku – the neon heartland of Tokyo.

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The throbbing, heaving neon pulse of Shinjuku offers a multitude of entertainments including bowling and the quintessential Japanese cultural essential – karaoke.

In the Shinjuku district there’s a particular place that’s called  Omoide Yokocho – Memory Lane but it also has the slightly more dubious monikor of  “Piss Alley.”

It’s a somewhat dingy spot where local folk hand out in tiny, show box sized eateries.

The name comes from back in the day when there were far fewer of the hyper sanitised public rest rooms and people just relived themselves on the floor.

From the cramped bars, many of which seat less than 20, to the steam rising from kitchens, to the precariously stacked plastic crates and snaking wiring, it’s a very different scene to the sanitised neon highrises of the rest of the city.

With the narrow street rampacked with people and the ever present highrises looming high above the cramped throng it has a definite Blade Runner vibe.

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The narrow lanes are filled with dozens of tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi and of course Sake! (although that is Sapporo beer below obviously….)

We squeeze into one of the tiny, micro sized bars and the man orders some form of meat on a stick (probably best not to dwell too long on what it might be).

Meanwhile I enjoy getting my Sake on – admittedly a new experience for me but I quickly adapted to it and found it quite moreish- especially warm.

We find a few fellow travellers to share another bottle (or two) of sake.

I  get briefly distracted by a wall full of paste ups before we carry on exploring the dark little alleyways.

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