Shinjuku Golden gai in Tokyo has been becoming popular for tourists from overseas recently. It is the retro and rare spot where is made up of over 200 independent bars packed on the really narrow streets. I never forget when I stepped into this tiny street with feeling excited at first. And now, it’s my favorite. The charming male and female owners, who have seen the history of the Golden gai for a long time, welcome guests warmly and you can also enjoy a great conversation with other customers in the friendly atmosphere and the tiny space makes you comfortable.
There are variety of bars like pretty cats entertaining you. And it’s not just about bars, there is a very good Ramen restaurant that is open twenty-four hours.
However, you should be care about something, which is unique to the Golden gai.
Let me tell you about it from my experience.
◆Each bar is narrow and many bars have only counters. So, you shouldn’t stay longer without ordering new drink. Staying with a glass of beer for 2 hours would bother the owners. If the bar is packed and as new a customer cames in, you go out of there and move to a next bar. Enjoy the bar-hopping.
◆You shouldn’t go there with a large group of people. Most people go there alone or a few people.
◆Please understand the original Japanese culture of “Otoshi”, which is unfamiliar for people from the other countries. This is that an appetizer is served automatically you don’t even order it. It’s about 300yen - 500yen to the bill as a table charge. I heard some tourists complaining “This small dish shouldn’t be charged without asking me” when they see the check. I’d like you to know this is one of the Japanese bar cultures and the Otoshi also includes Japanese hospitality. If the Otoshi tastes good, every food in the bar must be good!
◆It would be better to speak Japanese a little bit. Even though you don’t know Japanese, you can learn simple greetings easily, such as “Konbanwa (Good evening) or “Sen-yen? (Is this one-thousand yen?) and so on. When you exchange greetings with the owners or local people or you pay the check, speaking Japanese (broken Japanese is of course OK!) makes the owners give a good impression. The owners in Golden gai have own world view - This is a point of interesting though - They choose their customers. Some still only welcome regular customers and some bars do have signs saying ‘no tourists’…If a customer is rude he or she can’t be accepted there. Some bars welcome tourists, on the other hands, some still only welcome regular customers and some bars do say ‘no tourists’…
But if you are said “We are full right now” in a bar, don’t let it get you down. You should go to a next bar.
Only keeping these little tips mind, you can enjoy the Golden gai! Everybody in the Golden gai is basically warmhearted. They may recommend you a good Nihonshu, Japanese Sake, give you good information about Japan or having a lively conversation about common interests like cats or movies. You are able to spend a wonderful culture at night!