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Updated: April 2, 2018
Two hundred bars fit into a tight six-row block of alleys situated in the middle of the otherwise ultra-modern neighborhood of Shinjuku. This is Golden Gai, a must-visit destination for those looking to experience Japan’s intimate drinking culture when the formalities of everyday life no longer apply. Many bars are specifically themed and cater to a specific type of clientele, seating only five or six patrons at a time. Find one that suits your interests and head in for a drink with the locals. Note that some bars are members only, while others are open to everyone.
Formerly a red-light district directly after the WWII, the present Golden Gai retains the same atmosphere as it did in the early 1960s, before Japan's rapid modernization. While many of the streets and buildings in Shinjuku have been demolished and rebuilt many times over since that period 50 years ago, Golden Gai has remained resilient, retaining its old-school charms.
Golden Gai is conveniently located a few minutes from Shinjuku Station’s east exit and is adjacent to Kabukicho. Note that most bars in Golden Gai open relatively late in the evening, typically around 9 p.m.
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