Do you know which bars you want to go to in Shinjuku?
If not, even if you do, take “Golden Gai” into consideration.
This Golden Gai is a small area in Kabukicho, Shinjuku with a bunch of bars and attracts so many tourists abroad.
What is the Golden Gai?
The Golden Gai is a small area with more than 200 shanty-style bars. These bars were built after world war 2.
The size of each bar is within 10 and 15 square meters.
So the capacity is usually around 4-5 people.
Many of the bars were owned by celebrities.
There are so many celebrities as a customer too.
They used to welcome only regular customers but these days some bars are open to new customers too!
Origin of Golden Gai
The Golden Gai originates from the black market from the post world war 2.
They were originally located at east side of Shinjuku station, instead of the current place.
Below is a picture of the black market in Shimbashi(, not Shinjuku, sorry!).
However, the General Headquarters, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ), demanded that the black market is abolished.
As a result, they moved to the current place and many of them turned into bars and some became illegal brothels.
After the prostitution prevention law in 1958, those illegal brothels went out of business.
Consequently, that resulted in many bars opened.
During the 1980s, there was a real estate bubble in Japan.
So developers were interested in Golden Gai too.
A group of people gathered and decided to go against the developers and to preserve the area.
Sadly, the bar of the leader of the anti-developers group was set on fire.
However, that did not stop them.
The leader, who now lost his bar, opened a bar with the exact same location but without the roof, showing his determination.
That attracted people into their protesting action.
As the real estate bubble ended, so did the interest in the area of the developers.
Yet, this time the area became like a ghost town because the closed bars which resulted from the developers pressure left untouched and because the depression kept away customers.
Luckily, the area has been regaining the vibrant since the 2000s.
Now it attracts tourists from Europe and America.
Famous Things Based on Golden Gai
You might recognize this Shinjuku bars area from the things below. Yes, chances are you might have already seen this area!
Yakuza (TV game)
The city is based on Golden Gai
Jump – Madonna
The music video was recorded in Golden Gai