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Check Out Golden Gai, a Unique Area Filled with Hundreds of Small Bars!

Jan 08, 2019

If you want to go drinking in Shinjuku, Golden Gai, an area with a ton of small bars, is one of the best spots to checkout. As there are usually a maximum of ten seats in each small bar, you may feel a bit hesitant to enter. Don’t worry – there are bar owners that are friendly and welcoming to tourists from overseas, as Golden Gai has been featured in many tourist guidebooks and has become a popular spot to check out. In this article, we will give you some general information about the area and tell you how to enjoy your time in Golden Gai to the fullest.

Golden Gai, an Area Filled with History

Golden Gai is located in the Kabukicho’s first district (1-chome, pronounced "icchome") in Shinjuku. There are over 200 small bars crammed into these row houses next to Hanazono Shrine.

Golden Gai was historically a black market and an area just outside of the red light district. However, during the 1960s it became better known as a place for authors, comic book writers, musicians, people in the movie industry and other artists to get some cheap drinks and passionately discuss the hot topics of the day. This history continues to this day, with young people starting their own bars and attracting tons of visitors.

How to Get to Golden Gai

First, exit from JR Shinjuku Station’s East Exit and head to Yasukuni Street. You will see a Mister Donuts shop across the street from the Shinjuku Ward Office. Next to the shop is “Shiki no Michi” (Four Seasons Path – pictured above). Make your way down this path and you will soon find yourself in Golden Gai.

Have a Great Night

Once you find yourself in the area, you will see a ton of signage welcoming you into various establishments. You may be overwhelmed by all the choices! Bars usually open around 8PM, so you have time to grab some dinner in Kabukicho before getting the night started.

While there are some bars in the area that only allow regulars, there are bars open to first time customers and those that are especially welcoming to non-Japanese people as well. There are quite a few bars that have signs written in English.

All of the bars in the area have their own unique character. Be careful though – lots of bars have an entrance fee known as a charge. Charges are generally 500 yen, 700 yen or 1,000 yen. A drink is not included with this price, so don’t forget to factor the charge into your total.

We first recommend walking around the area and taking a peek inside some of the bars. When you find one you like, find the courage to enter! If you’re not sure how much the charge is, don’t hesitate to ask the owner.

There are a lot of interesting bars in Golden Gai, so the best way to experience this lively area is by bar hopping! Have fun exploring this unique side of Shinjuku.

Location information

Shinjuku Golden Gai

A district of eateries and bars located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku area. No more than 6,600 square meters in size, Golden Gai is filled with short wooden row house-style buildings, into which are squeezed mo…

1-chome Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo,
Telephone number
Hours of operation
Varies according to the establishment

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