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Enjoy a good time with locals! 5 Recommended Yokocho Alleys in Tokyo

There are many areas in Tokyo where cheap, delicious restaurants are lined up in alleys called yokocho, off the main street. Here are 5 recommended yokocho where you can enjoy spending time with locals and feeling the retro atmosphere of the Showa period (1926-1989) in Tokyo.

1. Omoide Yokocho (Shinjuku)

This is a bar district underneath the underpass by Shinjuku Station's west exit, made of longhouse-style establishments with a Showa retro atmosphere that contrasts with the high-rise buildings surrounding it. Its unique sign is distinctive and stands out from afar. It's popular with locals and people dropping by after work, but also with tourists. It has a long history, having started in 1946 just after the war, as a market in a burned field. The food stalls began serving meals made of easily obtainable ingredients like roast beef and pork giblets, and to this day, many restaurants serving meat skewers remain. These restaurants have become a specialty of this yokocho. There are also shops where you can purchase various tickets and coupons at a cheaper price than retail. Definitely check this area out!

1. Omoide Yokocho (Shinjuku)

1-1-1 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

2. Shinjuku Goldengai (Shinjuku)

This area is in Kabukicho, and has around 200 small restaurants and bars lining the narrow alley. Most of them are small and hold ten or fewer customers. It was once known as an area where intellectuals like famous artists, filmmakers, and people in the theater scene frequented. These days, there are still restaurants and shops with that sort of atmosphere, but there are also many genres such as bars, ramen, and Italian restaurants. You can feel like you've traveled back in time to a bygone Japan, but it has a lively bustle with an atmosphere that lets you relax and enjoy time with everyone. Hanazono Jinja Shrine is nearby, so why not sight-see there before or after going to Goldengai?

2. Shinjuku Goldengai (Shinjuku)

1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

3. Nonbei Yokocho (Shibuya)

Shibuya's scramble crossing filled with famous, but there is a Showa-like district called Nonbei Yokocho on a side street. It started as a restaurant and bar area around 60 years ago by food stalls selling their food near Shibuya Station, but now there are 36 restaurants and shops so small that some can only fit a few customers. It's a crowded area, but there is a variety of shops, like a bar, a bistro, an oden (stewed food) restaurant, a yakitori (chicken skewer) restaurant, and more. There are also many chic restaurants and bars with just a hint of a retro atmosphere, so it's easy for first-timers! This area is great for a small group of customers since you can enjoy talking to the owner while drinking and eating.

3. Nonbei Yokocho (Shibuya)

1-25 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

4. Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu)

This yokocho was founded in 2008, at the site where a shopping street called Yamashita shopping centre used to be. Although it's relatively new, there are many famous, unique restaurants and bars lined up in this lively atmosphere. It has the atmosphere of an older town, with many restaurants such as an izakaya gastropub, oden, and fried chicken restaurant proudly displaying their noren curtains and lanterns. It's inside a building, and the shops are crammed together, so you can enjoy bar hopping. Since there is a limited number of seats, you might be required to sit with strangers, which might turn into a fun conversation with other customers. Many tourists visit, but it's an area gathering attention from many people throughout Tokyo.

4. Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu)

1-7-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

5. Harmonica Yokocho (Kichijoji)

This yokocho is a retro shopping street just outside Kichijoji Station. It was given this name by the locals. The alley is so narrow that it's difficult for two people to pass by at the same time, but there are approximately 100 restaurants and shops both new and old. Many of them are relaxing, and you can enjoy their wares while chatting with the owner and locals. There are many shops, like a Spanish bar, taco rice restaurant, variety stores, apparel shops, florists, and fortune tellers. It's filled with people from morning to night, and it's fun just to look and walk around. Every 3rd Sunday of the month, there's a popular morning market from 7:00 am to 10:00 am where they sell fresh vegetables, sweets, breakfast, and more. Why not check it out?

5. Harmonica Yokocho (Kichijoji)

1-1 Kichijoji Honcho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo

In yokocho, many tiny restaurants and shops are lined up in side streets, and they are always filled with people. Early hours are recommended for a visit if you would like to avoid the crowd!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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