Next on our nighttime tour of Shinjuku is Golden Gai. This quirky little slice of Tokyo nightlife is a rabbit warren of bars – almost like a shanty town for inebriation!
Below are a couple of pictures of Golden Gai from above showing just how crammed in it is and how ramshackle the little businesses are.
In the dingy labyrinth of the Golden Gai you can see glimpses of Tokyo’s more down to earth, locally-minded nightlife.
It’s made up of a network of six narrow alleys, connected by even smaller passageways just wide enough for a single person to squish through. Over 200 tiny shack like bars and clubs are shoe horned in.
It’s a magnet for locals and tourists alike with its tiny rat run alleys and miniature drinking establishments.
Golden Gai has architectural importance as it has escaped the relentless development that has wiped away much of the city’s traditional architecture and layout.
It’s a window into the relatively recent past of Tokyo, when large parts of the city had extremely narrow lanes and tiny two-story buildings.
The number of people who can squeeze into each establishment ranges from about five to thirty. Each bar has it’s own theme and unique style.
Whether it’s old Hollywood glamour, psychedelic 70s rock or the best of British pop and punk, there’s a drinking den to suit any style.
Most of the bars accept visitors now, but some still only welcome regular customers – if in doubt check to see if there’s a price list or anything written in English before entering.
Not everywhere is welcoming and friendly to outsiders however . . . and be prepared for eye watering cover charges on top of anything you order.
It’s worth taking an hour to browse around this colourful little part of Tokyo. It might be cramped, dingy and expensive but it’s definitely an experience!