At Golden Gai in Shinjuku, experience the atmosphere of Japan’s olden days

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Golden Gai in Shinjuku, which is situated in the middle of a commercial district, has recently become very popular with foreign tourists. You can experience the atmosphere of the Showa Period in Japan, like a trip back in time.
Shinjuku station, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

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Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most number of train passengers congregated in one place. It’s no surprise that a station that has over 3,000,000 or more people pass through it on a daily basis has received such recognition. The principal reason for such a large number of commuters is the easy accessibility to the various major areas throughout Tokyo such as Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Tokyo Station. This accessibility and convenience is largely influenced by the fact that at Shinjuku Station, there are a total of 5 different transportation companies, including both the JR and Tokyo Metro (subway) lines, with 3 lines serviced by the Tokyo Metro for very handy commuting. Not only are trains available as a mode of transport for commuters, but there are also bus lines at the west gate of the station servicing access to Shibuya and Shinagawa, as well as buses with routes to Narita Airport, Hakone and Nikko.

Around Shinjuku Station

Close to Shinjuku Station, you will find anything from department stores such as Lumine and Takashimaya to restaurants serving various world cuisines, fast food outlets such as McDonald’s to karaoke parlors and movie theaters. It is surely a place for amusement and is continuously being developed, recently with the construction of a great deal of multistory apartment buildings. In West Shinjuku, there are many soaring skyscrapers of which the majority are office towers but there are also buildings such as Tokyo Opera City, along with deluxe hotels like the Washington Hotel and Park Hyatt.

Shinjuku’s Golden Gai

In the thick of the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku is a place called Golden Gai, a neighborhood of restaurants and bars located in the Kabukicho Itchome district. Kabuchicho itself is a mere 5-minute walk from the east exit of Shinjuku Station, and is filled with restaurants, izakaya pubs and red-light establishments, although Golden Gai mostly has izakayas. Each bar has its own character and sense of individuality, and amongst the bars you will find ones that are frequented by writers and film directors, as well as a few jazz bars. Golden Gai looks like it has remained just as it had been during the Showa Period, and filling the vacancy of the narrow street are scores of izakayas and bars. The buildings that are occupied by these bars and restaurants were erected in the postwar era in Japan, have fortunately not been swallowed up by the rapid development of the surrounding areas and the appearance strongly resembles the appearance and sense of feeling of the Showa Period.

It appears that the friendly and welcoming environment of the Golden Gai has been drawing foreign visitors. In the summertime, there is the Golden Gai Summer Festival (implemented in August of 2014) where you can enjoy the atmosphere at 500 yen a drink with no cover charge. Cover charge is often added onto the bill in many of these small bars populating the narrow alleyway but during the festival, this cover charge is excised. Over 170 bars are open from lunchtime during the festival and so it is recommended for those who may feel nervous about visiting the neighborhood at night. Moreover, the Hanazono Shrine, which is adjacent to the Golden Gai, has a bird market occurring in November of every year and has continued on a yearly basis since the Edo Period. Should you happen to be there during the season, it is highly recommended as a spot to visit in addition to the Golden Gai.

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Leaving Shinjuku Station, take the East Exit for Kabukicho, Golden Gai, and Hanazono Shrine. Take the West Exit for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo Opera City, and the Park Hyatt Hotel. Take the South Exit for Lumine, Takashimaya, and Shinjuku Gyoen.

From Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station:
Take the Chuo Line direct to Shinjuku Station (15 minutes, ¥200)

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7 years ago
The city that never sleeps
A place that never sleeps. Come here to feel the city vibe 24/7! Keep up the pace when you cross JR station with lots of Japanese Salary men. Enjoy shopping with neon lights and stop by Golden-Gai to have a drink, This shining retro district with more than 200 bars is definitely a must-go. Feel the total different atmosphere there!
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7 years ago
So busy!
Shinjuku is one of those places where you can easily get lost! Not because its streets are complicated, but more because there are sooo many people all over! Even so,once you get used to getting around its a great place to go for entertainment and shopping!
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9 years ago
Something for everyone
I have always maintained, that if there is something you want to buy, or a service you want. You can find it in Shinjuku. I believe this place is far too big for one article. But I digress. There is quite literally everything here, so I'm quite puzzled on how to review this place. You like food? Go to Shinjuku You like bars? Go to Shinjuku You like clubbing? Go to Shinjuku You like shopping? Go to Shinjuku You want er..."Other services"? Go to Shinjuku Kabukicho and Shinjuku 2-Chome are very interesting spots and I recommend both. Kabukicho is the red light district, but to me at-least feels rather safe (If you keep your wits about you) and is a very, very strange place. Shinjuku 2-chome is home to a plethora of gay/lesbian and transgender bars/clubs and establishments. Its also a very interesting area. I recommend this place too. Shinjuku is huge, ultra busy and crazy. But super fun. Check it ooouuuuttt!
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9 years ago
Entertaining nightlife spot, good for sightseeing during the day
I like Shinjuku, despite the crowds. Numerous times I have visited here and always had a good time. The square Enix restaurant, the government building, and the small streets packed with bars and restaurants make it a great place for a day of sightseeing or a late night drink. The area of Kabukicho is interesting, but at the same time, it is the only area that lets Shinjuku down in my opinion. Otherwise Shinjuku is an amazing place, and almost a city in itself. Shinjuku Station is of impressive size too, and it is easy to get lost; which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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