Category Archives: Night life in Tokyo

Introduction to Golden-gai

Golden-gai is one of the rare places in Tokyo. Because the tiny two or three-story wooden houses constructed after world war 2 still exist miraculously as they originally were. The buildings are slightly ramshackle. Golden-gai’s mysterious atmosphere comes from its louche past. This hugely atmospheric neighborhood was an area that provided prostitution illegally called “ao-sen”(blue line district). But all changed when prostitution was officially prohibited in 1958 and the area concentrated on just the drinks and food.

Now roughly 270 incredibly tiny watering holes are crammed into in this small district. Each bar has an outlandish décor and some sort of theme, such as hospital-themed bar, punk rock, films, Jazz, bar with halloween-themed décor, cat bar. They are setting their own hook to attract a clientele of like-minded people. Small and intimate, many of the bars are run by women (called mama in Japanese) or, increasingly, young people, drawn by the lower rent cost of bar in Golden-gai.

Goldengai night tour