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Drinks in Golden Gai

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Last updated: 07 July, 2024

A ramshackle collection of alleyways crammed with tiny bars, Golden Gai in Shinjuku is a low-rise 1960s throwback that has somehow managed to escape Tokyo’s thirst for redevelopment. It’s an atmospheric spot to soak up an authentic Tokyo cultural experience.

Some bars here specialize in cocktails, whiskey or craft beer, for others is a type of music or even a theme – try Deathmatch in Hell if you are a horror film fan or Bar Plastic Model to relive a 1980s childhood.

Other foreign-friendly, but not touristy bars to look out for are the gothic Albatross and English-speaking Ace.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 18
Age suitable: 18+
Frequency: annually
When: March, May and Sept
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Most of the 200 or so bars here can barely squeeze in more than half a dozen drinkers at a time, which is why some limit themselves to regulars only. Many, however, welcome travellers – signs on the doors make that clear in most cases.

Also note that seating charges of up to 1,000 Yen per person apply, which can make bar hopping pricey. When you find a place you like, it’s worth settling in for at least a couple of drinks and a chat with the locals.

When to do it

Golden Gai doesn’t really get going until after 8pm, but don’t go too late. By 10pm, getting seats in the better places can be hard.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Tokyo

We love this charming nightlife tour! You will get a chance to enjoy many kinds of sushi and yakitori (skewers) as well as classic RAMEN! (on everyone’s MUST-TRY LIST) Throughout your adventure, you will have the chance to try 10 different Japanese foods. Start your tour by walking through the busy streets of Shinjuku heading straight for Omoide Yokocho (literally “Memory Lane”) as our first stop. Omoide Yokocho is rightfully named as it is littered with rustic food stalls and bars from the 1950s. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to the middle of the 20th century. Many of these spots still stay true to their roots, serving roasted giblets with beef and pork, which was a staple when food was scarce after World War II. We will have a drink together and some skewers in one of the most charming parts of Tokyo; it will give you a very authentic feeling of Japan as you dine mostly with locals. (Please NOTE this tour is for Adults over 20 years of Age)

Price $231

Min age 20

Rating 4.76 / 5 [168 ratings]

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  • Tokyo

Let’s enjoy the night life in the biggest business and drinking town Shinjuku! You will see modern Shinjuku with many high buildings and neon signs and also, tiny local bars and narrow streets which make you feel like time traveling to Tokyo in the 1950s, without getting “Lost in translation”. After meeting, we will take you to “Memory lane”, narrow streets full of small Yakitori(skewers) shops and restaurants and enjoy beer and Yakitori as our first spot. Then, we will move to the east part of Shinjuku as most of the businessmen there do after 5PM for the night life. We will explore around Kabukicho-area, one of the safest red-light district in the world with Robot restaurants and Godzilla head and enjoy the 2nd Izakaya. Then, move to our highlight “Golden-gai” where more than 200 tiny bars crammed into the miniature backstreets, enjoy the unique atmosphere and have the last drink there. *This is a group tour and all type of group is welcomed including solo-traveler.

Price $115

Min age 4

Rating 4.94 / 5 [50 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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