A bird's-eye view of Shinjuku's Golden Gai, where as many as 270 different drinking places are packed into as area roughly 50 meters square.
This is Block 1 of Kabiki-cho 1-chome, a tiny area roughly 50 meters square located adjacent to Hanazono Shrine. This area got its start when, after the war, the black market located at the eastern entrance to Shinjuku Station was demolished, and the people who lived there moved here. Many of the shops lining the streets here were illegal brothels that nominally were eating or drinking establishments, and this area was known at the time as "Aosen"(Blue Line). After the Anti-Prostitution Law entered into force(1958), the district metamorpfosed into an area of drinking establishments, and came to be called "Golden Gai" The district repeatedly found itself at the mercy of the times, and on several occasions it almost disappeared, but those who leved the district protected it, and today it lives on as a place that exudes the atmosphere of the good old days of the Showa period.
The fashion in this district is to enjoy oneself by fitting in.

It has always been true that the way to enjoy this district is to find here and there in the district a number of places where you are able to feel relaxed, and to make friends with the man of woman who runs each establishment. precisely because Golden Gai is not a tourist trap, it is said that in this district, an important first step on the way to enjoying oneself and making friends is to "fit in," i.e., to not do anything that would displease others. I got Daito Nakajima, who runs the folk-arts sake house SUZUBAR, to tell me more about this.

The dog that trots about finds a bar. : Nine rules for fitting in around Golden Gai

If you are willing to lend an ear to the banter of a young barkeeper who has only been in business a few years, then this page should tell you what you need to know in order to enjoy this destrict that so bizarrely overflows with nostalgic neon signs. I simply told him that I wanted to talk about people coming to this district for the first time, i.e., how one should behave here.

1. Pick your first bar based on gut feeling.
-Also take into consideration the results for Internet searches such as "Golden Gai" and "recommendation"

2. Come with one other person.
-The shops in Golden Gai are all small. There are not many shops that large groups can get into.

3. Ask "May I?" before taking a seat.
-It will bother the barkeeper if you just sit down. It is obvious that you should ask this, but it is nevertheless important that you ask it.

4. Ask what drinks they offer, and then order something quickly.
-It's not a problem if you are a bit perplexed. But if you don't know what to order, it's a bad idea to simply follow the lead of the customer next to you and order what that person is drinking. There is no worse way to waste your time than drinking something you don't like.

5. Tell the barkeeper things like why you came to Golden Gai for drinks, how many drinking spots you have already visited this evening, and how you heard about this establishment.
-The barkeeper is a person too. Everybody feels self-concious when meeting someone for the first time. Naturally the barkeeper will greet you, but things will probably become relaxed more quickly if you let the barkeeper know who you are right away.

6. Avoid overdrinking at the first bar that you visit.
-It's good to get tipsy and enjoy oneself, but if you realize that you are enjoying youself too much, then it is already too late. It means you have already drunk too much. Make a firm resolution to tell the barkeeper that you have enjoyed youeself, and that you will come back the next time you are around.

7. Ask the barkeeper or the regulars at the what bar you should visit next.
-If you can, it truly is best to barhop. At bars wherer the barkeeper has come and sat next to you when the conversation really got going, the regulars at the bar will also probably come to know your likes and dislikes.

8. There's no point staying too long; if the bar is full, give up your seat.
-If all seats are occupied, then that means that others love that bar too. Monopolizing a seat shows partiality in one's love. A bar should be loved by everyone, not just by one person.

9. New! Don't smoke while walking.
-There was a fire in the district in 2016, Although the fire was not caused by a discarded cigarette butt, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Almost the entire district is made of wood. So, don't "light up" anything here other than your curiosity.

If you can keep in mind a little bit the points mentioned above, then I think you will feel less awkward here. just as each country has a history, so each district has a history, and the shops and the people in that district also have their own histories. The things that have occurred here in Go;den Gai, or that will occur here in the future, are probably more vivid and ezciting than any fiction. And my reason for taking up the open once again is in the hope of perhaps generating someting district. When you imagine how, night after night, dramas are occurring somewhere in this district, then even in the course of your everyday life you cannot help but feel a rush of adrenalin from time to time. And if you are going to come to Golden Gai, Feel free to become a participant in the dremas that take place in this district, or to just be an onlooker. That's because there are probably few other towns in the world that are full of an anergy that remains undiminished after 60 years, and of a clamor that changes from day to day. In a town like this, dramas are bound to occur.
Daito Nakajima, manager, SUZUBAR folk-arts sake house

SUZUBAR Shinjuku Golden gai G1st

[Address] 1F Golden gai G1st, 1-1-10 Kabukicho
[Tel] 03-5272-6100
[Open] 20:00-3:00am

One of the few genuine bars in Golden Gai. It also serves cocktails made from seasonal fruits.

Cover charge: \1,000 (no charge for first-time customers)



Darling Bar & Honey Snack / Maneki-dori
[Address] 1F. 1-1-5 Kabukicho
[Tel] 090-3803-9155
[Open] 20:00-5:00am
[Closed] Irregular holidays

This shot bar, is a place where even first-times can feel comfortable. The owner is a working actor, so movie directors and actors often drop in. The place is also noted for the fact that super-famous American directors have come here!
Jour Bar / Maneki-dori
[Address] 1F. 1-1-5 Kabukicho
[Tel] 050-3651-8886
[Open] 20:00-Last
[Closed] Irregular holidays

The renewed Jour Bar is based on the concept of Haikyo Bar. This cute bar, which only has a counter, is jammed with nice things. The renewed Jour Bar is always changing. Be sure to drop in for a fun time.
Lounge & event space KRISHUNA
[Address] 202 palace bldg, 1-1-5 Kabukicho
[Tel] 03-5287-2561
[Open] 19:00-5:00am (L.O.4:30)
[closed] Open every day

Features a spacious room decorared in an oriental mood, with cushions and lamps that were made-to-order in Morocco. Can accommodate groups. A belly-dancing show is held here every Tuesday.

BRIAN BAR G / Hanazono Ichiban-gai
[Address] 1-1-8 Kabukicho
[Tel] 03-3209-3255
[Open] 17:00-6:00am
[Closed] Open every day

This place is really enjoyable, and will really make you smile. We look forward to seeing you. Cover charge: \1,000; Drinks: starting at \700. Bring a copy of "Like! KABIKICHO" with you and you will get one drink free!
MISO SOUP / Hanazono Ichiban-gai
[Address] 1-1-8 Kabukicho *Diagonally in front of BRIAN BAR G
[Tel] 03-3209-3255
[Open] 21:00-5:00am
[Closed] Open every day

The girl makes adifferent miso soup and a different type of rice ball every day. This shop is one that you can feel comfortable dropping in to even if you don't know Golden Gai well. The shop also hosts local events on a regular basis!
Bistro Pavo
[Address] 1-C palace bldg, 1-1-5 Kabukicho
[Tel] 03-6273-8282
[Open] 17:00-L.O. 1:00am
[Closed] Sunday

A creative bistro that gives you absolutely the best value for your money. The chef, Mr.Sugawara, makes about 15 defferent types small-plate dishes, which he varies from bay to day, and which you can enjoy freshly cooked for \300-\500 each.
Cafe&Bar .red / Hanazono Gobangai
[Address] 1-1-6 Kabukicho
[Tel] 03-3209-3255
[Open] 17:00-5:00am
[Closed] Open every day

"Coffee and hot dogs are the main menu items. We recommend the cocktails made with coffee and cola that goes well with hot dogs! Please be sure to drop by if you fancy a meal before you enjoy Golden-Gai, or are tired of drinking and want to relax. There is also an art exhibition on the upper floor of the double-height space.