About Golden Gai | Detailed history and overview

🕓 2024/4/27

Detailed explanation of the history and overview of Golden Gai

 弁天堂 (14) (1)

 table of contents

  1. Overview of Golden Gai
  2. History of Golden Gai
  3. Must-visit shops in Golden Gai
  4. Golden Gai events and festivals
  5. Access to Golden Gai


弁天堂 (23)

Golden Gai is a unique bar district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, known for its historical background and charming bars and restaurants. This article provides an overview and history of Golden Gai, and delves into the shops, events and festivals to visit, and how to get there.

This area has been loved by many cultural figures and artists from the post-war period of turmoil to the present day, and it continues to fascinate many people today. As you walk through the narrow alleys of Golden Gai, you'll get a sense of how Tokyo's past and present intertwine. Now, let's take a closer look at the charm of Tokyo's hidden gem, Golden Gai.



1. Overview of Golden Gai

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Shinjuku Golden Gai is an area located in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, where many bars and izakayas are located in narrow alleys. This area, located in a corner of Kabukicho, has a unique atmosphere that was formed during the Showa era and is rich in cultural background. This area, which began as a black market during the post-war turmoil and later became lined with restaurants, has been loved by many cultural figures and artists, and continues to attract many people due to its unique charm. スクリーンショット 2024-05-03 7.45.16

Golden Gai is home to over 300 small but unique stores, each with its own theme and concept. The store is very small and has limited seating, so it's common to enjoy the company of other customers when visiting. In addition, many old-fashioned buildings remain, and their historic architecture is considered one of the attractions of Golden Gai.
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As for access, it is very convenient as it is only a few minutes walk from Shinjuku Station, and it is also close to Shinjuku Sanchome Station, so it is crowded with many tourists and locals. Golden Gai is especially lively at night, and you can find a variety of encounters at the various bars. You can feel the atmosphere of the Showa era while having a drink at a bar frequented by literary greats.


2. History of Golden Gai

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The history of Shinjuku Golden Gai begins after the end of World War II. This area originally flourished as a black market, where goods were traded illegally during the post-World War II period of food and supplies shortages. A wide range of goods, from daily necessities to contraband goods, were traded in this area, and many people used it to make a living during the post-war chaos and poverty. The main stage was around Shinjuku Station, and after it was later removed due to legal restrictions, it transformed into an area centered on restaurants. Later, in 1949, the black market was ordered to be abolished, and the store was relocated to the Sanko-cho area of Shinjuku Ward. The new bar district that was formed in this way later became known as "Shinjuku Golden Gai.
Until the enforcement of the Anti-Prostitution Law in 1958, illegal prostitution took place on the second and third floors of Golden Gai buildings. In the chaos and poverty that followed the war, prostitution was a means of earning a living for many women, and at the same time was a major source of income for the local economy. Prostitution activities primarily took place in bars, cafes, or the upper floors of small accommodation establishments, often operating in parallel with the store's regular business. After the law goes into effect, this area will strengthen its character as a bar district.

9129In the 1970s, a new wave of culture swept through Shinjuku, and it became a gathering place for writers and artists. For example, writers Ryu Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto have visited this area and reflected its charm in their works. It is also said that Haruki Murakami visited this area when he was young. These artists are fascinated by the unique culture and atmosphere of Golden Gai, and their experiences strongly influence their works. These cultural figures gathered night after night and engaged in literary and political discussions, establishing Golden Gai as a special cultural place.

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Although it suffered a temporary decline during the bubble period of the 1980s, it has continued to be loved by many people to this day through various changes in the era. In particular, the increase in the number of new-style stores run by young owners has attracted a more diverse customer base, transforming the city into an attractive city with a mix of old and new cultures.


3. Must-visit shops in Golden Gai

Shino Nonoya

Donya Shino is a long-established izakaya in Shinjuku's Golden Gai, with over 40 years of history, and is known for being open to local patrons and new faces. The store's appeal lies in its atmosphere and interaction with locals. The food is served in a style where you choose from large plates arranged on the counter, allowing you to enjoy your meal while drinking in a simple yet comfortable space. The bar is a symbol of Shinjuku Golden Gai's diverse bar culture, offering visitors the charm of old and new.


Hungly Humphrey

This popular bar is located in Shinjuku Golden Gai and offers a relatively spacious space with 26 seats. Open late, it's perfect for dinner or late night dining. In addition to our bar-style menu, we are known for the quality and taste of our signature meatball curry stew. The interior is decorated in a North African colonial style, adding to the unique charm of Golden Gai.


Amazing Niboshi Ramen Nagi

Amazing Niboshi Ramen Nagi is a ramen shop located in Shinjuku Golden Gai, and is especially known for its ramen that uses plenty of dried sardines. The specialty of this restaurant is the rich soup, which is a blend of over 20 types of dried sardines, and the taste is characterized by the deep flavor and umami of the dried sardines. Furthermore, the interior of the restaurant is small, making it suitable for enjoying delicious ramen quickly rather than relaxing, and it is perfect for the lively atmosphere of Shinjuku.

In addition to the traditional ramen, Wogo Niboshi Ramen Nagi also offers unique menu items such as kelp water tsukemen, and one of the attractions is that you can enjoy a different taste. Tsukemen is characterized by particularly smooth noodles, and the flavor is further enhanced by the kelp water.



BAR ARAKU is a hidden bar in Shinjuku Golden Gai, especially popular with foreign tourists. This bar is known for its exotic décor, with banknotes from around the world adorning the walls. Although BAR ARAKU is a small space with 25 seats including counter seats, it is known for its homey atmosphere and provides a fun time for visitors.

You can enjoy a variety of drinks such as beer, sake, shochu, wine, whiskey, and cocktails in the store. It is also very conveniently located, 3 minutes walk from Shinjuku Sanchome Station, and 4 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station.



Shadow is a unique bar located in Shinjuku Golden Gai, known as a 24-hour girls' bar. The exterior of this bar has a unique design reminiscent of a haunted house, and the interior reflects that mysterious atmosphere. The interior of the store is made of wood, making it a particularly attractive place for those who like old buildings. In addition, the bar also serves food such as curry rice, ramen, and hamburgers, and the hamburgers are said to be especially delicious.

In addition, this bar has a system in which staff members are in charge of the bar, and all staff members work with a strong sense of responsibility for running the bar.



Barboraya is an izakaya located in Shinjuku Golden Gai, and its specialty is teppanyaki. Since opening in 2004, it has gained popularity for its homey atmosphere and delicious food. The restaurant has two floors, with counter seats on the first floor and tatami-style seats on the second floor. The menu has a wide variety of dishes, and the stew, grilled green onion tendon, and pork balls are especially popular. You'll be able to spend a good time enjoying delicious food in a friendly restaurant.



Dan-san is a cozy pub in Shinjuku Golden Gai, run by the owner, a former actor and rugby player, and his beautiful mother. This restaurant serves creative dishes centered around Japanese cuisine and obanzai, and dishes such as canned mackerel arranged with green onions and butter, oden, and stews are particularly popular. The interior of the store has a friendly atmosphere, and it is said that the manager and players of the Japanese national rugby team sometimes visit.

Business hours are Monday to Saturday from 19:00 to 26:00, closed on Sundays. The store has good access, being a 3-minute walk from Shinjuku Sanchome Station, and a 4-minute walk from Shinjuku Station. It's a small restaurant with only 16 seats, and the main seats are at the counter, but there are also small table seats.


Orange Prince

Orange Prince is a popular bar in Shinjuku Golden Gai, especially among young people and foreign tourists. This bar is known for its retro atmosphere, 80's music, vinyl records and NES machines, creating a nostalgic atmosphere. Another attraction is the drinks served in various character vintage tumblers. The interior of the store is decorated with white and blue lighting, providing a comfortable experience for visitors.

The bar is open from 9:00 PM to 5:00 the next morning, and is open every day except for New Year's holidays. There are 7 seats at the counter, creating a compact yet friendly environment.


4. Golden Gai Events and Festivals

Shinjuku Golden Gai holds various events and festivals throughout the year. Particularly noteworthy are the "Shinjuku Golden Gai Summer Festival" and the "Shinjuku Golden Gai Cherry Blossom Festival."

Cool Thanksgiving Festival

main_pc_1The Summer Festival, held every summer in Shinjuku Golden Gai, is one of the events where you can experience the vibrant culture of this unique bar district. Participating restaurants will go beyond their normal service and offer drinks at a special price of 500 yen without charge. This stamp rally-style event allows visitors to tour various bars and enjoy the uniqueness of each bar and the nightlife of Shinjuku.

Additionally, the Summer Summer Thanksgiving Festival is sponsored by local shopping districts and has the purpose of promoting interaction between the local community and visitors. This festival provides a great opportunity for those visiting Shinjuku Golden Gai to cool off during the hot summer months while enjoying great value. In addition to restaurants, there are also live music and DJ performances by local artists, so you can brighten up your night with music.

Cherry Blossom Festival

unnamedThe Spring Cherry Blossom Festival in Shinjuku Golden Gai is one of the highlights of the year's events celebrating the area's culture and history. Approximately 166 participating stores will offer drinks for 500 yen without charge, allowing visitors to enjoy the unique atmosphere of each store while enjoying Shinjuku's cherry blossom season. The festival takes place throughout Shinjuku Hanazono Golden Gai, and participating bars and restaurants offer a wide variety of drinks at more affordable prices than usual.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is held when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, heralding the arrival of spring, and is loved by local residents and tourists alike. During the festival, Golden Gai is decorated with special decorations to warmly welcome visitors. The festival is an important meeting point for the local community, providing an opportunity for guests old and new to come together and enjoy food, drink, and conversation.



5.  Access to Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai is located in Shinjuku, the heart of Tokyo, and can be easily reached by many public transportation options.
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Access by train
The most convenient way to get there is by train. The nearest station to Shinjuku Golden Gai is JR Shinjuku Station, about a 5-minute walk from the southeast exit. It is also about a 3-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome Station, and can be accessed from multiple lines.

Access by car
Although it is possible to visit by car, the Shinjuku area is generally prone to traffic congestion, so public transportation is recommended. If you are driving, it is common to use a nearby coin parking lot, but it is expected to be crowded, especially on weekends and during events, so it is best to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Other information
For bicycles and motorbikes, there is a parking lot nearby, but please be aware that it can get very crowded, especially on weekends. Also, the area around Shinjuku Golden Gai often becomes a pedestrian paradise during certain events, so it's a good idea to take this into consideration when accessing the area.





Shinjuku Golden Gai is a special place in Tokyo with its unique charm and historical background. Throughout this article, we've delved into Golden Gai's overview, history, shops to visit, local events, and how to get there. Golden Gai, where various cultures and eras intertwine, always offers visitors new discoveries and enjoyable experiences.

We hope this information will help you explore Golden Gai and give you a sense of Tokyo's past and present through its narrow alleyways, unique shops, and interactions with the locals. Whether you're enjoying a drink at a historic bar or attending seasonal festivals, Golden Gai is open to all who visit. So, enjoy your adventure in Shinjuku Golden Gai.