Shinjuku Golden Gai and Memory Lane

Golden Gai and Memory Lane are two famous areas of small bars close to Shinjuku station. Despite I’ve been to Tokyo six times, I had not visited any of them.

It’s quite interesting what Wikipedia has to say about Golden Gai as a remnant of pre-miracle Japan.

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Here is the entrance to Golden Gai:

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It was very empty this early in the night, and many of the bars are closed on Sundays, we learned. The area was quite touristic with signs in English, and the few other people we met in the alleys were foreigners. But we managed to find a very nice bar, where we had some sake.

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There’s often a cover charge in small Japanese bars like these. In return you get a little starter, which you can’t choose yourself. So I’m happy when it doesn’t contain meet, which this one didn’t. It’s some kind of fish paste, not unlike chikuwa or surimi.

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A lot of bars in this area advertise that they don’t have any cover charge, but didn’t mind paying it to this nice bar owner, who is a 46-year-old graphic designer who recently quit his daytime job to open this bar. Cover charge and each drink was 500 yen, so with two glasses of sake per person we paid 1,500 yen each. That’s 95 Swedish crowns or 10.60 euro – I notice that the yen has got weaker again.

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There was a board with drawings by the guests. The bar owner offered me and Miyagi to draw something too. We decided we would draw a dog. I’ll let you guess who drew which dog and what it might say about our respective personalities.

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Quick stop at Mister Donut!

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And through the tunnel to Omoide Yokocho, or Memory Lane, another area more or less intact from the 1950s.

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Quite touristy here too; I probably won’t come back but it was good to see, and we managed to find a very good and tasty place where we had some beers and small dishes.

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A lot of intestines on the menu!

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Here is the little dish that was included in the cover charge at this place. Only vegetables, simple and delicious!

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Saba sashimi:

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Roasted garlic:

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When I told Miyagi that I keep track of all expenses, it turned out that he does the same! We seemed to have approximately the same budgets, if we deduct my investments in various game consoles, games, manga, action figures and … well, as I said, that’s investments, not careless spending!

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The area outside the East Exit of Shinjuku station is always full of young entertainers in the evening.

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