Golden Gai

Golden Gai is a small and fantastic area in Shinjuku. Almost 200 mini-bars are squeezed into just a few small alleys, with some bars dating back to the 1960′s. The area was saved from being burnt down in the 1980′s because bar owners and protesters stayed up all night to guard the area from being destroyed and rebuilt in a more modern style.

Most bars only have room for 6-12 people, and many of theme have themes. Like the 60′s, Ghetto or Trolls. Quite a few of the bars are only open for regulars who have their own favorite liquor bottles stored in the drink cabinet. But some bars also welcome English speaking guests with signs talking of English menus outside on the street. Mind that most places take a cover charge of between 500-1000 ¥ per person. Except for that, you are up for a treat with bartenders happily inviting you to snacks, chocolates and Japanese food when you sit around the bar counter and chat away until late in the night. The area starts getting lively at around 23 pm and bars will be open until 4-5 am. You’ll find Golden Gai about 7 minutes walking distance from Shinjuku Station East Exit, in the Kubukicho area. If in Shinjuku earlier, why not grab bite to eat on one of the many small eateries in Piss Alley just a few minutes walk away?

by Emelie Fågelstedt