YOKOCHO ALLEYS

One step beyond a main street in Tokyo can lead to totally different world: the world of a yokocho alley. Tokyo has many such alleys, ranging in style from time-honored to modem and all lined with tiny,unique shops. Which yokocho will you visit today?

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AMAZAKE YOKOCHO

The alley stretching some 400 meters from the Amazake Yokocho intersection outside Ningyocho Station to Meiji-za Theater is called Amazake Yokocho (sweet sake alley). It was so named after the amazake shop that marked the alley’s entrance in the early Meiji period (1868–1912). Today, amazake is served at Japanese liquor and confectionery stores lining the alley, making it a popular place for strollers who seek a shitamachi feel.

Address : Nihombashiningyocho 2-chome, Chuo-ku

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SHINJUKU WEST EXIT OMOIDE YOKOCHO

Along the underpass at Shinjuku Station West Exit are townhouse-style bars that form Omoide Yokocho (memory lane). Around 1946, when food was scarce in postwar Japan, stalls began selling roasted giblets with beef and pork obtained, relatively easily, from allied forces. The fact that many bars today serve skewered chicken and roasted giblets is a remnant of this past. Apart from bars, the alley also has many set-meal diners and second-hand ticket shops.

Address : Nishishinjuku 1-chome, Shinjuku-ku

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OKAZU YOKOCHO

Shops selling prepared food and groceries line the 230-meter-long Okazu Yokocho (side-dish alley). The area of Torigoe once had many small factories, and was thus home to dual-income families, many of which bought prepared food and made good business for Okazu Yokocho. Fans who have moved away still revisit the alley for the familiar taste offered by the numerous shops.

Address : Torigoe 1-chome, Taito-ku

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SHIBUYA NOMBEI YOKOCHO

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One step into Nombei Yokocho (drunkards’ alley) takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya. This small, silent corner of town—save for the rumble of Yamanote Line trains in the background—is a sort of Showa-period theme park for youths, and a place for older generations to time-travel back to their youth. With a number of popular skewered chicken bars, it’s the perfect spot to relax over drinks in Shibuya.

Address : 1-25 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku

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HARMONICA YOKOCHO

The name Harmonica Yokocho derives from the resemblance of the small, neatly lined shops to the reeds of a harmonica. And these shops that come into view once through the narrow labyrinthine alley are in fact so much fun that you can almost hear the music. On top of restaurants, the alley has a lineup of sundry shops and salons and fortune tellers that keep you exploring all day long.

Address : Kichijoji-Honcho 1-chome / 2-chome, Musashino-shi

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UENO AMEYOKO SHOTENGAI

Ameyoko, originally short for Ameya Yokocho (candy shop alley), is always lively with vendors calling out to potential customers. Apart from grocers, there are countless shops that carry shoes, clothing, and even international knick-knacks. The liveliest time of the year is late December, when the alley attracts such a large crowd of New Year’s shoppers that it’s virtually impossible to move.

Address : 6-10-7 Ueno, Taito-ku

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KUROBEI YOKOCHO

Kurobei Yokocho (black-fence alley) features a chic atmosphere enclosed in black walls. When darkness falls, the arcade comes to life unlike any other space inside a train station. Restaurants serving a variety of cuisines from Japanese to Okinawan offer a place of relaxation for adults. The alley is a short minute’s walk from Tokyo Station.

Address : Tokyo Station Yaesu North Exit B1, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku

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YURAKUCHO SANCHOKU INSHOKUGAI

Yurakucho is home to antenna shops from across Japan, and now it has a new type of yokocho: the Sanchoku Inshokugai (farm-fresh eateries street). The establishments lining this alley serve local dishes using ingredients rarely found in Tokyo. The regions featured are Hokkaido, Iwate, Nagano, Shizuoka, and Kumamoto. This is a recommended spot if you’re hungry for a menu with a twist.

Address : International Arcade, 2-1-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku

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EBISU YOKOCHO

Come night in the fashionable area of Ebisu, a glaring neon sign unexpectedly signals the narrow entrance to Ebisu Yokocho. The long alley is lined with compact akachochin taverns, all crammed with a lively crowd. Each of the taverns is unique, so the best idea is to bar-hop and enjoy several of them.

Address : 1-7-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku

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