I’ve heard of it, but where is it and what is it?
If you like to drink alcohol – GO. If you don’t like to drink alcohol – Still GO.
What was my first impression of Golden Gai? WOW.
When stumbling around Shinjuku, I just so happened to roll into what is called “Golden Gai”. How different it is to the big neon lights which characterise Shinjuku. When walking around Kabukicho (an area of Shinjuku), I felt quite bothered. Far too many people were hassling me, grabbing me by the hand and asking me to enter their “titty bar”. Although I’m sure some people prefer this sort of thing, the secret and hidden bars of Golden Gai attracted me far more. This was the stuff I thought I could only see in movies, and there I was, right in the centre of it.
Where is it?
That’s a secret! Just kidding, Golden Gai is one of the most famous drinking spots in the world, but at the same time, hidden, unassuming and somewhat sketchy. I was lucky enough to just happen to stumble upon it when walking down some backstreets of Shinjuku, but if you know you want to go there, it’s only a 5-10 minute walk from the station, and many locals and punters will happily direct you.
What is it?
As you already know, Tokyo is characterised by bright neon lights, skyscrapers and crazy bars filled with salary men after a hard day of work. One is able to avoid the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded city and head to Golden Gai – Tokyo’s number one place to drink. After my visit to Golden Gai I read a little bit about it on the internet, with one traveller describing it has having a “post war charm of scruffiness, often lost in the shiny modern city we are more familiar with”. I thought this was a rather apt way of describing Golden Gai. It is just different.
Golden Gai is made up of six different alleys, crowded with tiny bars, all unique and individual in style. The bars can sometimes only fit a couple of people in, but most of them can fit at least ten people in (seated and standing). Some bars are much larger, being able to fit in 20+ people.
If you head to Golden Gai in the evening, most bars will open around 9pm. There isn’t much point heading there in the day time, as many of the bars will not be open. Despite the bars only being able to fit a small number of people in, there are hundreds of bars packed into these tiny alleyways, so you are likely be able to sit down and grab a drink somewhere! One major problem however, is that most bars have a cover charge. This can range from between 200 Yen and 2000 Yen, depending on your age, gender and nationality! For example, some bars will not let in foreigners at all – they are simply local only bars, although most bars are welcoming of tourists and offer no cover charge. The reason for this is that the bar-owners often prefer to keep the locals happy, as they are the ones who sit and drink in the same bar all evening, as opposed to the tourists, who have on drink and move on! But don’t worry – they wont be offended if you do have a drink and move on.
As mentioned, each bar is wonderfully unique and different to the next one. It is important to bear in mind that some of these bars have upstairs areas too and despite looking incredibly sketchy – the majority are all great, and offer their own unique vibe.
Is it cheap, I hear you ask. That really depends on where you go to and what you’re drinking. From my own experience, the cover charge is pretty much the most expensive thing and drinks can massively vary depending on which bar you choose to go to and also what you want to drink.
In terms of recommending places for you to drink, honestly, it is completely subjective. Go and find out for yourself! The bar that I prefer may be your idea of hell! Instead of therefore following recommendations, have a wander and see what tickles your fancy. Its got a bit of everything, from S&M themed bars to heavy metal punk bars.
Go down there and have some fun……and remember, try not to pass out (although if you’re out on a Friday night, you’ll see that this is very much Japanese fashion!)
This article is presented to you by Guidable.
What You Should Know Before Going to a Pool in Japan
It’s the end of summer but the weather is still hot and humid. If you’re like me, you are probably tired of being stuck in air-conditioning all day and want to venture out for a more cultural experience. If so, look no further than your local Japanese public swimming pool. It may not seem very exciting, but going swimming in a local public pool is one of the most uniquely Japanese experiences I have had since moving to Tokyo and I would argue is an easy way to both experience and participate in Japanese culture and customs. However, in order...
Sensō- ji Temple – Tokyo’s Oldest Temple and one of the worl...
Sensō-ji Sensō-ji, which may sometimes be referred to as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, is the oldest and most visited temple in Tokyo! This article will hopefully provide you with an insight into what one of Japan’s most famous temples is like, how to get there, and what to do once you are there! It is a fantastic place to visit for the day or just a couple of hours whilst you are in Tokyo, and it will give you a real sense of traditional Japanese culture. How to get there? Despite the temple itself being too far to walk from...
Star in Your Own Samurai Fighting Film at Haneda Airport
Recently my girlfriend Erika and I decided to act as samurai for a day at Haneda Airport. We came across a company called Samurai Film that allowed us to act in our own professionally-edited samurai short film. It was an awesome experience, and we reckon the company totally undervalues their services. However, before we talk about it, here’s a little knowledge for those who aren’t familiar with samurai. Who were the samurai? Samurai were basically the military nobility of Japan. They were notorious for being skillful warriors, honorable until death, and for living their lives according to “the way of...
Apartments in Japan: How Japanese People Rent with No Regret...
Renting a desirable apartment in Japan can be quite difficult when you consider the cost of rent, the facilities and the convenience of its location. There are plenty of rental apartments everywhere in Japan, but do you know which points Japanese people care about most when choosing an apartment to rent? Everyone has their own preferences for living, but in this article, I will share some key points that Japanese people use to evaluate rental properties to make well-informed decisions with no regrets. 1. In which Professions Do Employees Rent over Buying in Japan? Of course, everyone wants a sweet,...
4 Facts About The Lack of Public Trash Cans in Japan
When you’re walking around the city streets, local parks or sightseeing in Japan, many of you may have recognized there are few public trash cans and have found it difficult to throw away your trash in general. You may feel this situation strange when comparing it with your hometown where you can see public trash cans everywhere. And you may wonder why Japan doesn’t do the same thing. Let’s see the reasons why there are few public trash cans in Japan. 1. What Kind of Trash Do You Need to Dispose in Public? Do you often eat foods or drink...
Why Do Japanese Women Do Their Makeup on the Train?
Japan is a country where trains are the main daily transportation for many people. If you live in Japan, have you ever noticed Japanese women doing their makeup sitting on the trains, especially in early mornings? Do you wonder why Japanese women go through this process on a public vehicle? There are certain reasons for this particular action of the women in Japan, and let’s find out through this article! 1. No Time for Morning Makeup Sessions For those of you who have experienced the commuter rush, you can see how Japanese people, both men and women, have such a hard...