A well hidden little attraction that is not to be missed if in Tokyo, The Golden Gai
Golden Gai located just a few minutes walk from the East Exit of Shinjuku Station, it is located between Shinjuku City Office and the Hanazono Shrine. Golden Gai known for its architectural attraction and its nightlife, this is one those experiences in Japan that is a must-see, if it is not on your to do list, make sure it is added!
Golden Gai was known for prostitution before 1958, when prostitution became illegal. Since then it has been developed as a drinking area, and some of the bars can trace their origins back to the 1960’s to the 1980’s, many buildings in Tokyo were set on fire by the Yakuza, for the purpose that the land could be redeveloped by developers, however the Golden Gai was one of the few places that survived this attack by supporters that took turns to guard the area at night.
The Golden Gai is a connection of several tiny and narrow alley ways with countless building one next door to the other. At first impression one may think it is a dirty and trashy place compared to the rest of Tokyo, its clean well lit up streets and this dark, slightly luminous alley, vandalised alley ways. However this very contrast between the big cities and the hidden little corner in Tokyo is what makes it so appealing to thousands of tourists. Walking through the Golden Gai alley ways it gives you a feel of what Japan used to be like in the 1950’s to 1980’s, the buildings are only a few feet wide and are usually two stories up. The extremely narrow alley ways consist of several bars literally touching next to each other, some apartments typically on the second floor or another bar. However the bars usually fit a maximum of 3 to 4 people per time and for most Westerners they will be taller than the entrance door itself.
The appearance and impression you get when you visit the Golden Gai may be that it is cheap, however do not let looks deceive you, the customers it attracts into its narrow and cramped bars are people that usually well off and the drinks are very expensive compared to your typical bar in Shibuya or Shinjuku. Despite how terrifyingly small it may sound, this is an experience that is not to be missed, seeing the city and all attractions such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree are not to be missed, however these are all modern attractions. If you want an attraction that is not as historic as Kyoto but a taste of history when Japan was in a rough but thrilling phase, you must visit the Golden Gai.