Golden Gai

Tiny Bars along Narrow Alleys Attract Well-off Clientele

Shinjuku Golden Gai is a small area located in Shinjuku, well-known both as an area of architectural interest, and for its nightlife. It is composed of a network of six narrow alleys, connected by even narrower passageways, which are just about wide enough for a single person to pass through. Over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries are squeezed into this area.

 

A Glimpse of What Tokyo was Like in the Recent Past

The architectural importance of Golden Gai is that it provides a view into the relatively recent past of Tokyo, when large parts of the city resembled present-day Golden Gai, particularly in terms of the extremely narrow streets and the tiny two-story buildings. This left Golden Gai as one of a decreasing number of examples of the nature of Tokyo before Japan’s rapid economic recovery that took place in the latter half of the 20th century.

 

Small Ramshackle Buildings Attract Well-off Clientele

Most buildings in this area are two-story, with a small bar at street level, and either another bar or a tiny flat upstairs, reached by a steep set of stairs. The buildings are generally ramshackle, and the alleys are dimly lit, giving the area a very scruffy and run-down appearance. However, Golden Gai is not a cheap place to drink, and its clientele is generally well off and include artists, musicians, directors, writers, academics and actors, and some celebrities.

 

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