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Hobo Shinjuku Noren-gai, a Timeless and Lively Restaurant Area

Apr 25, 2019

When you get off at Shinjuku Station, you are right in the heart of the big city and not starved for choices - there are tons of places to shop, eat and drink. However, most of the places around the station are in newly developed department stores or are chain restaurants. If you’re looking for something with more of a classic touch, head to Hobo Shinjuku Noren-gai, a series of restaurants located in traditional houses a 6-minute-walk from Odakyu Shinjuku Station or Minami-Shinjuku Station.

What is a “Noren-gai”?

Hobo Shinjuku Noren-gai loosely translates to “shop curtain town close to Shinjuku”. “Hobo” is the Japanese word for “close” or “pretty much”, and is not at all connected to the English meaning of the word! These traditional houses are on the outskirts of the Shinjuku area, thus are “pretty much” in Shinjuku. “Noren” is the word for the curtain that hangs over the door of a restaurant or shop to indicate that it is open. Though noren were more commonly seen in past eras, there are still many shops in Tokyo that have the tradition of puttingt he noren up when the shop opens and taking it down when it closes. The “-gai” part of the name means “town”, indicating that all of these restaurants are all related.

What Kind of Food is There?

These 8 old folk houses have each been completely renovated into lively restaurants. Though the outside is very traditionally Japanese, the restaurants don’t serve only Japanese food! There is something for everyone, from Awadsutsumi Champagne Mania, specializing in champagne as the name implies, to Aroi Kyodai, a bar that offers charcoal grilled Asian cuisine. That’s not to say there is no Japanese food available – Ufuku (Yoyogi Branch) and Torijin offer yakitori (skewers of grilled chicken), and Gyutan Iroha serves beef tongue, a specialty of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture. Spanish Italian Azzurro520 (Yoyogi Branch), Kaifornia and Captain round out the selection, offering Spanish food, seafood and grilled offal respectively.

Each restaurant is marked on the map using the traditional Japanese ABCs. Though it is a bit difficult to understand if you can’t read Japanese letters, all of the shops are close together so you are sure to find what you are looking for with ease.

Mixing Traditional with New

Noren-gai aims to be an area that serves delicious food and drinks to every customer. It doesn’t matter if you're looking for a meal or bar hopping – you can come to these shops for any purpose. This area aims to feel timeless, and the mix of traditional architecture and innovative drinks and cuisine helps achieve this purpose. When you’re drinking in one of these unpretentious yet stylish traditional houses, you won’t feel as if you are in the giant metropolis of Shinjuku, so stop by and check it out!

Hobo Shinjuku Noren-gai
5-20-20 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours of operation and phone numbers vary by restaurant. Please see the official website for details.