Night Out in Shinjuku, Tokyo

39 Reviews

Shinjuku-ku

Know about this? Rate It!

hide
  • Night Out in Shinjuku
    by Ewingjr98
  • Night Out in Shinjuku
    by Ewingjr98
  • Night Out in Shinjuku
    by Ewingjr98
  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Golden Gai Area, Shinjuku

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Mar 8, 2014
    4 more images

    Golden Gai is a small area of Shinjuku that is known for its tiny bars that date back to the end of World War II. The area has six main alleys, connecting about 200 ramshackle bars and restaurants, most of which are just big enough to seat five to ten customers. While this is a very unique area of modern Tokyo, it is said that most of Tokyo was comprised of similar neighborhoods following the last World War, and up until the economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

    Golden Gai is famous for its nightlife, and despite the rickety appearance of the bars, the area is somewhat trendy and expensive. Golden Gai is specially known as an area that attracts artists, including musicians, painters, actors and writers. Many of the tiny establishments have a few regular customers, and they save seats for these regulars, sometimes even refusing to serve new faces, especially Westerners. However, if you see English signs and menus, that is said to be a good indicator that the bar welcomes foreigners.

    One Sunday evening, we were in the area and decided to get a drink in Golden Gai. We did a loop around the bar district, which was very quiet at 7pm, but one of the bars with an English sign was open. We stopped in and immediately struck up a conversation with the friendly middle-aged bartender who learned his English in Europe. Later, three other Westerners showed up, and we had a great time. While we originally planned to have only one or two beers, we ended up staying for 4 or 5 each.

    Golden Gai is a quick five-minute walk from the northeast side of Shinjuku Station.

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    various: Shinjuko at night

    by toonsarah Updated Nov 18, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    On our return to Tokyo at the end of the tour we had dinner with most of the group and a farewell drink at the hotel. Some had to get up early the next day for flights home, but Chris and I were staying in Japan for a few more days and our train to Nikko wasn’t until mid morning. The night was young and the bright lights of Shinjuku were calling! So we went out to explore and take some photos.

    This is one of the most vibrant night-life areas of the city, and was a real contrast to Asakusa where we had stayed at the start of our trip – and even more to beautiful Kamikochi where we had been for the previous two nights. We wandered through the streets near our hotel and took lots of photos of the neon lights and all the activity. In some ways we could have been in any major city; in others, it was uniquely Japan.

    I was especially intrigued by the narrow alleyways north of the station, known variously as Omoide Yokocho (which means “memory lane”), Yakitori Alley or more crudely, P**s Alley. They are lined with a myriad of the tiniest restaurants I think I have ever seen, most with just a counter and a handful of stools. Big bowls of noodles (ramen, soba, udon) bubble on the stoves and yakitori skewers are lined up on the grills. Fragrant steam rises on the air to tempt diners. Unfortunately we had already eaten so we just strolled through and took in all the sights.

    A less appealing area for many will be Kabukicho, Japan’s largest red light district, which lies to the north east of the station. When we passed here I spotted several men obviously out to tout for business so we gave it a miss! It’s probably safe enough with so many other people around, but there were plenty of other streets to explore and bright lights to photograph.

    Dress Code: No need to dress up if you’re just walking the streets and looking for photo opps, and even if you plan to go in a bar or restaurant, those we saw were not fancy.

    And talking of bars, you could do worse than visit the cosy 82 Ale House

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    82 Ale House: A British? Pub

    by toonsarah Written Nov 16, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Entrance
    2 more images

    After we’d spent some time wandering around Shinjuku’s brightly lit streets we decided it was time for another drink. We had spotted the narrow frontage of this bar and thought it looked welcoming so decided to give it a try. It was quite an interesting experience! The aim here was to recreate a British pub in the heart of Tokyo and I imagine for Japanese visitors it could feel very exotic and foreign. Certainly there were plenty of them there – the small space was almost full and mostly with Japanese drinkers though there were a few Westerners too. In appearance it has managed to create a fair impression of a UK pub (we were chuffed to see old pictures of Northumberland on the walls) and they have also replicated the custom of ordering and paying for your drinks at the bar. But it was very odd to be greeted at the door, after descending the short flight of steps to the basement, and seated as if we were in a restaurant – “Table for two? Over here please”!

    Once settled at our table (which we were lucky to get) we found that there was a decent selection of drinks including some British ales, naturally, but also local ones. Chris had a Kirin while I was persuaded by the pub’s Jack Daniels promotion to try a cocktail based on their Tennessee Honey whiskey which was rather nice. We also shared a bowl of mixed nuts. I can’t remember what we paid but it was reasonable.

    We had really enjoyed our visit here so when we returned to Shinjuku after our weekend in Nikko we were keen to come back. Although the weather was terrible, the worst of the rain had passed by this time so we grabbed our umbrellas and headed out. It was a Sunday evening and the place was as busy as before but luckily not totally packed, and again we were welcomed and shown to a table.
    I had developed a taste for Japanese whisky so sampled two of the four on the menu, deciding that the Yoichi was my preferred one. Chris again had local beer (Kirin) and we had a lovely last evening in Japan in this cosy spot.

    We had already eaten but the pub does a range of British pub food dishes (sausages, fish and chips) though I don’t know how authentic these are, and it also has some Japanese food I think.

    But there is more to Shinjuku than nightlife, as a walk in its skyscraper district reveals.

    Dress Code: Smart casual or even just casual is fine!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Golden Gai Festival

    by Ewingjr98 Written Sep 7, 2013
    4 more images

    Dress Code: Golden Gai has an annual festival on a Sunday night in late August. At other times of the year, the bars have expensive cover charges and even more expensive drinks, but on this one night, everything changes. During the Golden Gai Festival, about 150 of the more than 200 bars in the neighborhood open their doors to visitors. They drop the cover charges and each offers a number of drinks for jsut 500 Yen. We visited 4 or 5 different establishments over the course of a few hours, and we really had a great time! We tried out several bars that we normally wouldn't have visited since they dropped their cover charges for the evening.

    Golden Gai is a small area of Shinjuku that is known for its tiny bars that date back to the end of World War II. The area has six main alleys, connecting these miniature ramshackle bars and restaurants, most of which are just big enough to seat five to ten customers. While this is a very unique area of modern Tokyo, it is said that most of Tokyo was comprised of similar neighborhoods following the last World War, and up until the economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

    Golden Gai is known for for its nightlife, and despite the rickety appearance of the bars, the area is somewhat trendy and expensive. Golden Gai is specially known as an area that attracts artists, including musicians, painters, actors and writers. Many of the tiny establishments have a few regular customers, and they save seats for these regulars, often refusing to serve new faces in the area, especially Westerners. However, if you see English signs and menus, that is said to be a good indicator that the bar welcomes foreigners.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    2 x 4 = ∞

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 27, 2013
    4 more images

    2 x 4 = ∞ is the unique name for a great place in Golden Gai. The bar is a sports themed establishment, with a big TV usually showing soccer or baseball. We stopped here the night of Golden Gai Festival 2013, and we had a great time from about 10:30pm until they kicked us out and shut the door around 11:30 or midnight. The customers were great and friendly, and the guest bartender for the night was awesome.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Baltimore Jazz Bar - Golden Gai

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 27, 2013
    2 more images

    Baltimore (ボルチモア) Jazz Bar is a great little spot in Golden Gai. They normally have an 800 Yen seating charge, but this fee is waived one night a year during the Golden Gai Festival in late August. Beers are usually 700 Yen, but they were reduced to just 500 Yen for the festival.

    The nice sign out front has the image of American jazz musician Nina Simone. She released an album called Baltimore late in her career, and the photo on the sign is from the album jacket. See the Wikipedia page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_%28album%29

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Ace's - Golden Gai, Shinjuku

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 27, 2013
    4 more images

    Ace's is one of 200 or so tiny, hole-in-the-wall bars in Shinjuku's Golden Gai neighborhood.

    Golden Gai is a small area of Shinjuku that is known for its tiny bars that date back to the end of World War II. The area has six main alleys, connecting these miniature ramshackle bars and restaurants, most of which are just big enough to seat five to ten customers. While this is a very unique area of modern Tokyo, it is said that most of Tokyo was comprised of similar neighborhoods following the last World War, and up until the economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

    Golden Gai is known for for its nightlife, and despite the rickety appearance of the bars, the area is somewhat trendy and expensive. Golden Gai is specially known as an area that attracts artists, including musicians, painters, actors and writers. Many of the tiny establishments have a few regular customers, and they save seats for these regulars, often refusing to serve new faces in the area, especially Westerners. However, if you see English signs and menus, that is said to be a good indicator that the bar welcomes foreigners.

    One Sunday evening, we were in the area and decided to get a drink in Golden Gai. We did a loop around the bar district, which was very quiet at 7pm, but one of the bars with an English sign was open. We stopped in and immediately struck up a conversation with the friendly middle-aged bartender who learned his English in Europe. Later, three other Westerners showed up, and we had a great time. While we originally planned to have only one or two beers, we ended up staying for 4 or 5 each.

    And boy are the beers expensive here! Even at this mini establishment with no real entertainment and a basic beer and liquor selection, drinks were bout 900 Yen each.

    My favorite things were the toothless old man who woke up after we were there for an hour, then entertained us by moonwalking to the restroom. Speaking of the restroom, ever see a sink built into the toilet tank? Impressive!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Without a Sign Cafe - Golden Gai

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 27, 2013
    4 more images

    Without a Sign Cafe has a sign out front that says Footsie in Japanese (あんよ). This bar, one of hundreds of tiny bars in Shujuku's Golden Gai district, took over Bar Footsie in 2002, but never removed the old sign. They did add the 無銘喫茶 above the original sign, which means Without a Sign Cafe.

    Inside there are just seven seats at the tiny L-shaped bar. Quieter than many bars in Golden Gai, this one also is a tiny bit more upscale with wine, and expensive liquors, as well as Suntory beer in bottles. They also have a fancy restroom with fake stained glass and a bejeweled toilet seat.

    There is a 300 Yen per person seat charge, and drinks start at about 600 Yen.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Bar プラソ - Golden Gai

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 27, 2013
    2 more images

    Bar プラソ (Puraso) is a large, second floor bar in Shinjuku's Golden Gai nightlife district. Formerly called "Bran," many maps still show this former bar's name. Seat charge at this large 15-20 seat bar is hefty at 1,000 Yen per person.

    We stopped here during Golden Gai's 2013 street festival and enjoy the happy, festive atmosphere. We had a few beers, and many others at the bar were enjoying hard liquor, wine, and their small selection of food.

    Was this review helpful?

  • detroitdb's Profile Photo

    Street Food in Shomben Yokocho: Shomben Yokocho - Great Spot for Street Food!!!

    by detroitdb Updated Apr 12, 2013
    A Yakitori Joint in Shomben Yokocho
    2 more images

    Just steps away from the crowds of Shinjuku Station you'll find Shomben Yokocho, also known as "*** Alley" the ramshackle alley marketplace that sprouted up after much of Tokyo was destroyed in World War II. Despite this foreboding moniker, the alley is not very dirty, and it's one of the best street-food spots Tokyo. Tokyo is one densely packed city and it shows here, Shomben Yokocho is is crammed with the ramen, udon, yakitory and curry joints, many of which only fit two or three patrons. If personal space is an issue you may just want to pass-through and observe rather than dine, but you'll be missing out on some good food. It gets packed with salaried office employees when work lets out, so get a spot early.

    Related to:
    • Trains
    • Beer Tasting
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • Night Out in Shinjuku: Night Out in Shinjuku

    by tarotanaka Written May 14, 2012

    The fact that the most recent post 3/11 review talks about the red light district ladies, and another one further down talks about paying for a male host, pretty sums up this part of Tokyo, or indeed much of Tokyo. You pay to play, and it is very, very expensive.

    Try Shanghai or Thailand instead!

    Was this review helpful?

  • kdoc13's Profile Photo

    Shinjuku: Shinjuku

    by kdoc13 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A back alley in Shinjuku East.

    Shinjuku is home to the red light district in Tokyo. There are no two ways about it, that is where go for the ho's. Believe me when I tell you that I did not know this before I stayed there. That being said, it is kind of fun to watch the guys getting nervoud trying to approach one. While Japan loves its sex, there is still the repressive about actually doing it.

    The area itself has three sections. Don't worry though, because you can still find a McDonalds on every corner!

    Shinjuku East: This is where most of the shopping is done. Check out My City or one of the many other stores that line the area. Be warned though, if you have to walk by the station you will get flooded with people.

    Kabuki Cho: This is where you go to see the pretty ladies that charge for their services. Not for the kittens, but interesting to see once.

    West Shinjuku: The largest concentration of Skyscrapers in Tokyo. It is the business district and unfortunately where I had my office. Hard to get to, because it is a bit of a walk, and addresses are impossible to find.

    Other Areas: Not to be missed is Takashimiya Times Square. This is a shopping complex which is more modern than the old My City. The top three floors are places to go to to have fun.
    Shinjuku Park. If you know what Cos-play is you will enjoy the sights in the park. If you don't know what it is, bring a camera. You will see people in Costumes looking for other adults who are similarly inclined, to play with (thus Cos-play).

    Dress Code: In most places, it depends where you are going. But in Kabuki Cho, the red light ladies don't care about dress code.

    Was this review helpful?

  • AKtravelers's Profile Photo

    Night Out in Shinjuku: Bright Lights in the Big City

    by AKtravelers Updated Aug 15, 2009

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Shinjuku!!
    3 more images

    Shinjuku is one of the most interesting places in the world at night. And I can say that without having even entered a bar there. The crowds of people wandering through the streets and the bright lights make Shinjuku a visual feast that cannot be passed up. If you are hungry, there are plenty of fine restaurants -- I ate at a sushi place there that was delicious. If you are thirsty, there seeem to be plenty of great bars that I can't wait to try. And, if you want to see naked women, there seems to be plenty of that, too. Just find an African tout and he'll lead you to his favorite place! I'm sure of that, since they hounded me constantly being a guy alone when I was there in 1998.
    Mostly, I like wandering around the crowds and lights of Sinjuku. When you think of Japanese nightlife, this is the image that come to mind!

    Related to:
    • Business Travel
    • Beer Tasting

    Was this review helpful?

  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Yasakuni dori: Shinjuku night out

    by aukahkay Written Apr 17, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Side streets off Yasakuni dori
    3 more images

    The stretch of Yasakuni dori just to the east of Shinjuku JR station is abuzz with restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, pubs, pachinko palours and game arcades. There is something for everyone young and old. The variety of eating establishments is simply mind-boggling. However, do note that not all eating establishments have English menus or window displays of the food. Unless you can read Japanese, you may have problems ordering. But not to worry - there are numerous restaurants in the food alley of Shinjuku Station and on the top floors of Odakyu Shopping Center. The side streets on both sides of Yasakuni dori are full of these eating establishments, bars and pubs.

    Dress Code: Casual

    Related to:
    • Business Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • leanne_pearc's Profile Photo

    Night Out in Shinjuku: Shinjuku at Night!

    by leanne_pearc Written Apr 5, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Me in Shinjuku

    Shinjuku is crazy at night! The place is full of people, bright flashing lights and people enticing you to try their club or restaurant. There are so many choices and you could go back every night and still find the place to be endless fun!

    You do have to be careful to check what the cover price is to enter bars and clubs as some charge huge amounts of money!

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Tokyo

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

81 travelers online now

Comments (1)

  • Jan 29, 2013 at 5:16 AM

    Do NOT go to the SMILE LOUNGE in Shinjuku, Japan. It is a fradulant establishment that intimidated me to sign a credit card bil for $4,200 for four glasses of wine and now I'm fighting my credit card company even though I called as soon as I got back to my hotel and they had already flagged it as fraud!

View all Tokyo hotels