The 6 Best Bars in Shinjuku Golden Gai – Time Travel to the Early 20th-Century Tokyo | Japan Guide

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Enjoy the night life here in Tokyo by visiting Shinjuku’s Golden Gai where close to 300 bars and eateries exist in the narrow alleyways, preserved in the early 20th century.

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Amongst the dense high rise developments with much wider roads, there is a tiny section (about 6 narrow alleys connected by even narrower passageways) in Shinjuku, Tokyo, that remains in a time warp from the early 20th century. This tiny area of Shinjuku, known to the locals as Golden Gai, is also gaining popularity among the foreigners. Its “secrecy” makes foreign visitors feel like they have found an unexpected treasure here in Tokyo.

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Reference: flickr

Believe it or not, there are close to 300 bars and eateries packed in this little tiny space, tucked away in between the Shinjuku City Office and the Hanazono Shrine. Most of them are tiny bars with some of them only big enough for 4-5 customers. Each bar and eatery, however, has its own unique concept and theme, which you can observe from their decors or bar atmosphere.

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Reference: flickr

Though the time stands still in the early 20th century era here in Golden Gai, the drinks and food it provides are no less than any high-end bar quality. Let’s check out 6 bars that are recommended.

No.6 HAPPY

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Feeling nostalgic? Miss the good old days? Here at Happy bar, Rock, Soul, and Blues music from the 60s to the 80s are played every night on JBL speakers at its full volume. Japanese rock music from the Showa era is another category well loved. You can also find a large collection of 3,000 analog records of bands such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, N.Y. Dolls, or Japanese bands such as Down Town Boogie Woogie Band, The Roosters, etc. If you also like to dance, don’t miss their Disco Night held on every last Friday of the month. It will be a fun and happy way to end the week, for sure.

Happy

Address: 
Maruha building 3F, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 21:00-6:00

Seats: 10-15

Reservation: Yes

Estimated Cost: 
1,300 yen~3,000 yen
*Not accepting credit cards

Phone: 03-3208-3171

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.5 BISTRO PAVO

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Reference: flickr

Bistro Pavo, as its name suggests, is a bar restaurant where you can enjoy delicious dishes with your favorite drinks. Every dish is only 500 yen and each glass of drink costs only 600 yen, making the cost reasonable for customers, even those who visit alone. There are varieties of daily specials each day. It’s worth mentioning that their pasta and risotto are very popular dishes.

Bistro Pavo

Address: 
1-1-5 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 17:00-3:00

Seats: 12

Reservation: Yes

Estimated Cost: 2,000 yen

Credit cards: 
VISA, JCB and others

Phone: 03-6273-8282

Website: Bistro Pavo

Hotel: Booking here!!

Mo.4 BITTER ORANGE

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As you step into the Bitter Orange bar, you are welcomed by very soft orange glow of light enwrapping the whole bar and the staffs’ warm smiles. Staffs at Bitter Orange are good looking and dream to be actors one day. There are many kinds of sake, fruit wine, beer and cocktail to choose from, which the owner specifically picked. Bitter Orange wishes to be a place where its customers can “have fun and relax.” A bar immersed in a warm hue of orange light certainly helps to create that atmosphere.

Bitter Orange

Address: 
3rd Street, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 21:00-5:00

Seats: 7

Reservation: Yes

Estimated Cost: 2,000 yen~4,000 yen
*Not accepting credit cards

Phone: 03-5285-8841

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.3 ALBATROSS

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Reference: flickr

One of the most fancy interiors at the Golden Gai can be found here in the Albatross. With gorgeous crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and some disco balls casting light and shadows across the room. Albatross certainly makes a bold impression to its customers. Not only that, the deer head hanging on the wall gives a big impact too. On the second floor, customers can enjoy different art exhibits of photos, paintings, illustrations, etc. For art lovers, this is a perfect place to visit. Albatross is where you can enjoy some nice drinks as well as viewing art pieces all at the same time.

Albatross

Address: 
5th Street, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 19:00-5:00

Seats: 30

Reservation: No

Estimated Cost: 1,500 yen
*Not accepting credit cards

Phone: 03-3203-3699

Website: Albatross

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.2 BAR DARLING

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The number one recommended female friendly establishment is Bar Darling. This is a very reasonable shot bar that welcomes adults as long as they have a good common sense. The owner of Bar Darling is an actor who has been in many different theatre plays, movies, and shows. Because of that, many media related personalities visit the bar often. There are more than 100 kinds of alcohol beverages to choose from. There is also an abundant amount of liqueur and single malt drinks prepared to your liking. On top of all this, their daily appetizers also receive a good review. The female staffs are very easy going and full of personality which is an added feature to this bar.

Bar Darling

Address: 
Maneki st. 1-1-5 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 21:00-6:00

Seats: 8

Reservation: Yes

Estimated Cost: 1,300 yen
*Not accepting credit cards

Phone: 03-5272-1270

Website: Bar Darling

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.1 KENZO’S BAR

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Kenzo’s Bar welcomes you into a world of leopard print patterns in its exterior and interior decor! To say that Kenzo, the owner of Kenzo’s Bar as you could have guessed it, loves leopard prints is an understatement. Other than his leopard prints, Rock and Popular music from the 80s genre, Politics, and Stage Play are the themes here at Kenzo’s Bar. His customers, many of them foreigners, are entertained by his “small talk.” His friendliness and the atmosphere of his bar makes it comfortable even for non-regulars to stop by. Come and experience Kenzo’s world yourself at Kenzo’s Bar while enjoying beer and sake.

Kenzo’s Bar

Address: 
2F, 1-1-7 Kabuki Cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 8:00pm ~ 5:00am

Seats: 13

Reservation: Yes

Estimated Cost: 2,000 yen +

Phone: 090-9847-5563

Hotel: Booking here!!
Booking.com

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