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One of the most secretive spots in Tokyo, Golden Gai Tokyo is a rather strange collection of unorthodox and debilitated bars in the alley of a dark corner of Shinjuku. Strolling through the run-down streets of Kabukicho, you should ignore the offerings and the calls of drinking venues then go straight to the Golden Gai, a dormant corner behind the sparkling neon lights. Here is the guide to discover Golden Gai in Shinjuku — The Shinjuku Golden Gai unique nightlife street in Tokyo with Living Nomads.

Golden Gai Tokyo narrow alley at night
Golden Gai Tokyo narrow alley at night
Golden Gai Tokyo 23 Foto: golden gai shinjuku tokyo japan blog.
Foto: golden gai shinjuku tokyo japan blog.
Golden Gai Tokyo 22 Golden Gai in Shinjuku seen from above.
Golden Gai in Shinjuku seen from above.

While the neighborhood areas have been rebuilt like any other places in Tokyo, Golden Gai retains postwar charm, of which we no longer catch a glimpse in the modern cities nowadays. What are special things inside the Golden Gai? There are few small shops that celebrities regularly drop in. In addition, nightlife at Golden Gai is an endless journey of discovery. With the feelings similar to Omoide Yokocho nearby, but focuses on cocktails rather than chicken, Golden Gai is in the mainstream where tourists are beating the bushes looking for the mundane aspects of this capital. The bars tend to be open from 9 pm, so do not come over too soon, you will feel woeful on the fiercely lonely and deserted street.

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Its look in the wee hours

Be humble in narrow streets

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Your best bet is spending time here with your beloved ones. Foto: golden gai shinjuku tokyo japan blog.

Golden Gai is made up of 6 small alleys and gently adorned by independent bars, you can stroll around and experience the ancient streets displaying a tinge of the good old days with one person’s wide entrance covered by stickers in order to disguise the painted, old-aged and degraded facilities. With more than one bar a building, steep stairs can bring about an absolutely distinctive adventure.

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Image: golden gai in shinjuku blog.

This place has all over 20 bars for you to single out, and where to start – this is easier said than done. You may feel a need to toss around some things: Some lounges have signs that say – no foreigners, no tourists, or just for patrons -that is their right. With sufficient space for just a few people, they want to spare their vacant seats for their habitue – who will spend the whole night in the bar rather than the ones having on a shot and quit. Keep an eye out for the other notices and choose another one among the still thousands of different options.

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Don’t laugh at them, you will be more curious about this venue than these men for sure!
golden gai bars
Golden Gai Bar

Golden Gai Street

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A peaceful place to spend time on. Image by: golden gai tokyo blog.

Possibly a hospital-themed bar, an S&M club or walls covered with green grass, you can encounter everything in this quarter, if you are ready to explore. You should not only keep an eye out for the Tachibana Shinsatsushitsu provided that you itch for a hospital-themed spot but also wander into the Plastic Bar, or head straight to the Happy Bar to enjoy soul music, rock music or old-fashioned blue music. The Happy Bar also gets hold of melody from the Showa period to tie in with the surrounding area. If the Hair of the Dog is a bar that has great options for those who love punk and ska music in the 80s, La Jetee is a much-publicized lounge in filmmaking, with a small room used for scenes in Tokyo Ga, and frequently visited by moviegoers and actors.

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You will have to “conquer” his thrilling steep staircase

Golden Gai bars: Most beloved places

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What a modest alley it is in! Picture: shinjuku golden gai tokyo blog.

Opting for a bar among many of those names is a pride and joy. However, if that scare you and you want some pointers on the starting point, consider the options below:

Albatross

Albatross bar
Golden Gai’s Albatross Bar. Image: golden gai in shinjuku blog.

A blend of Edwardian and Gothic styles, with gold-plated mirrors, chandeliers, deer heads and odd disco balls, it is rumored that this place was once a brothel. The two-story bar with temporarily used rooftop, rooms for small groups as well as seats for couples and individuals. The staff are friendly and always offer a good selection of beverages, from Darjeeling to homemade prunes. The total cost for one person is 500 yen, including snacks.

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Deer head becomes an icon here. Photo by: shinjuku golden gai blog.
inside albatross
Way many choices to choose from
Cool vibe at Albatross, a very foreigner friendly bar.
Cool vibe at Albatross, a very foreigner friendly bar.
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Image: golden gai in shinjuku blog.
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A flash of this bar

Albatross
Address: 5th Street, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 19:00-5:00
Seats: 30
Reservation: No
Estimated Cost: 1,500 yen. Not accepting credit cards
Phone: 03-3203-3699
Website: Albatross

Death Match in Hell

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Death Match in Hell – What a scintillating name!

In case that you are a huge fan of death metal, this is one of the best. Excluding service fees, with great music and hundreds of rock music DVDs to choose from, have a great night out with your heroes, and once you get here, you are part of the Death Match in Hell family.

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The skull is the highlight of this “hell”
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Tourists will have a whale of time here
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Approachable waiters and waitresses
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It looks like a poster of one horror movie
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A steamy image to the right corner of the menu!

Deathmatch in Hell
Address: Japan, 〒160-0021 東京都新宿区 歌舞伎町1-1-8 新宿ゴールデン街3番街 goldengai 3rd st. 1-1-8 kabukicho shinjuku tokyo JAPAN
Opening hours: Open today · 8PM–3AM

Darling Bar

bar darling golden gai 23 Image by: golden gai tokyo blog.
Image by: golden gai tokyo blog.

One of the best bars with an incredible atmosphere Tailor-made for women, Bar Darling is a relaxing bar with dim lights as if from fairy tales and over 100 types of drinks. The bar crew is very welcoming and the owner is an actor. There are a lot of local stars who swing by the bar, which is a good opportunity for you to get to know the celebrities.

bar darling golden gai

Bar Darling
Address: Maneki st. 1-1-5 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 21:00-6:00
Seats: 8
Reservation: Yes
Estimated Cost: 1,300 yen. Not accepting credit cards
Phone: 03-5272-1270
Website: Bar Darling

Bitter Orange

mittter orange golden gai

A cool and luxurious place to stop and get high on a glass of liquid, the warm breezes of Orange will bring you the most wonderful night. With cocktails, a list of beers and wines, this is a destination for everyone. One more thing is that the pub opening until 5 am, so you can keep going until three sheets to the wind.

bitter orange shinjuku golden gai tokyo golden gai in shinjuku golden gai shinjuku tokyo japan
Have a seat and enjoy the amazing atmosphere here. Photo by: shinjuku golden gai blog.

There are seats opposite to each other and a small table, so you will not need to fiercely fight with the throngs for a place to rest.

Bitter Orange
Address: 3rd Street, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 21:00-5:00
Seats: 7
Reservation: Yes
Estimated Cost: 2,000 yen~4,000 yen. Not accepting credit cards
Phone: 03-5285-8841

The golden rules of Golden Gai

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When in Rome, do as Romans do – Simply follow their rules to have a flawless trip for your own! Image: golden gai in shinjuku blog.

General guidelines of customary entitlement are still being applied even in dining at such small bars. There are a lot of rules inside the personal bars, some of which are general policies (such as seat fees) and some are less common (one bed costs 5000 yen), but you will be reminded by the staff of the bar, so no need to overly worry.

Golden-Gai-Rules

Golden Gai Tokyo
Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Picture: shinjuku golden gai tokyo blog.

Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Address: 1-1-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Opening hours:
1:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Monday, Tuesday, Friday)
2:00 PM – 8:00 PM (Wednesday, Thursday)
Phone: 03-3209-6418
Website: Shinjuku Golden Gai (Japanese)
How to get to Golden Gai
From Shinjuku station to Golden Gai: It takes 8 minutes walk from east exit of Shinjuku station.
From Tokyo station to Shinjuku station: Just take the Chuo Line direct to Shinjuku Station. It takes 15 minutes and costs 200 yen.

Read more Tokyo travel guide.

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