Golden Gai belongs to 6 small alleys – too narrow for even little automobiles – to enter. It is lined with around two hundred bantam bars – that would be more than you can find in most United Kingdom cities. The alleys are mostly dim with small illumination – but it has one of the lowest crime rates than big cities.
1. What is Golden Gai?
Shinjuku Golden Gai is a diminutive area in Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan. It is known to be an area of architectural wonder and for its lively nightlife. It is comprised of a network of six alleys narrowly connected by even small passageways, just enough for one person to go through. There are 200 little shanty-style clubs, bars, and eateries in this area.
2. Why is it a popular destination?
The bars in Golden Gai are popular in particular for the aesthetic affinities of the patrons. For instance, the Shinjuku Golden Street Theatre is a flyspeck theater in a corner that puts on mainly comic shows. Golden Gai is a meeting place for artists, music performers, writers, directors, scholars, actors, as well as VIP celebrities.
3. Why is Golden Gai so important?
The place has an architectural standing as it provides the best view into the recent history of Tokyo. The large parts of the area resembled the modern Golden Gai, like the exceedingly narrow paths and the Lilliputian two-story buildings. Golden Gai was once known as a place for prostitution in the 1950’s and was developed into a drinking area in the 1960’s.
4. The modern day Golden Gai
Source: Siruis Daniel Abadia Prieto
Today, most of the surrounding spots have been reformulated. The street plans have been transformed to create broader paths. There are also larger buildings that became much bigger high-rise or medium- rise establishments. The place has one of the decreasing examples of Tokyo character before the so-called “economic miracle”.
5. What to see in the area?
The buildings are stacked so close to the ones close-by that they nearly touch each other. Most of the two-story spots have small bars at the street level. There are other bars with tiny flat upstairs that can be reached by climbing the stairs. No bars are big as most are so tiny.
6. What to expect in Golden Gai?
Generally, the buildings are a few meters wide. The structures are typically broken down. The alleys have low light, that it gives the area a worn and creaky appearance. However, it is not a cheap place to drink, as the customers are well off. Most of the bars mostly fit just 5 to 7 persons at a time.
7. Who are the regular customers in the place?
Many of the bars, restaurants, and cafes only accept regulars that are introduced by some existing regular patron. However, many others also welcome new customers. Some even try to attract tourists by placing signs and menus in English. Some of the servers and bartenders in the area are even foreigners.
8. There are different themes in the area
Others cater to clients with some particular interest in exploitation films, arts or even horse racing. The place is mostly quiet during the day and in the early evening. You can find some artworks too, that range from animals, cats, guitars, painted lips and even nudes. These add to the mystique which makes the passer-by think what’s to see inside.
9. There are also music bars
Most of the bars have particular music genres like R&B, jazz, punk rock, karaoke, flamenco and more. The ramshackle walls may also be literally plastered with a lot of films, movie, and music concert posters. Most of the bars advertise a discriminating mix of music genres and enigmatic art themes.
10. How to reach Golden Gai?
The Golden Gai is located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is known for large skyscrapers and seedy kind of nightlife. You’ll see well-suited businessmen at the time-warped collection of bars called the Golden Gai. It is just a few minutes from the East Exit of the Shinjuku Station, just between the Hanazono Shrine and the Shinjuku City Office.
- Area: 6,612 m²
- Address: 1 Chome Kabukicho, 新宿区 Tokyo 160-0021, Japan
- Phone: +81 3-3209-6418
- Interest: Drinking, nightlife, bars, restaurants
- Access: 5 to 8 minutes walk from the East Exit of the Shinjuku Station
- Hours: 7 pm to 3am
Have a good trip and travel!