Omoide Yokocho alleys: Hidden traditional eatery zone in Shinjuku

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Anyone who has been to Japan probably knows Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station quite well. Even people who have never been to the country might have heard about its reputation, as it’s surrounded by shopping areas and entertainment venues. Thanks to its large size, the station serves as a travel hub and transport intersection in Tokyo, with trains traveling to the airport and nearby prefectures.

Amidst the modern atmosphere and skyscrapers of Shinjuku is a maze of narrow alleys known as Omoide Yokocho, which is packed with tiny eateries that cater to around 10 customers. Despite their size, these historic restaurants have an abundance of customers (especially foreign tourists) who come to experience the old-world atmosphere of Tokyo.

The alleys have existed since World War II when the area west of Shinjuku Station was an entertainment complex. The most popular food served at the time was grilled meat on sticks, with vendors marinating and grilling small pieces of beef, pork, chicken and giblets. Because the war led to a shortage of food and higher prices, one of the only available foods was grilled meat.  The eateries that exist today have maintained this uniqueness, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy traditional foods within the atmosphere of an Izakaya. These Japanese-style bars serve small dishes of easily-prepared foods (with the focus being on drinking) and have around 10 seats, with most occupied by Japanese and Western customers.

You can enjoy the atmosphere of Omoide Yokocho by video here →
Walking the streets of Shinjuku’s Memory Lane

The name “Omoide Yokocho” may have derived from the remarkable climate in this district. “Omoide” means memory while “Yokocho” means alley. Therefore, foreign tourists refer to this destination as “Memory Lane”.

If you come to Tokyo and get bored with dinner at the hotel or ordinary restaurants, a dinner in Omoide Yokocho is worth a try and offers a glimpse of old-world Tokyo.

Omoide Yokocho
Nearest station: JR Shinjuku Station West Exit
Location: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0023
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Tourist Note JAPAN

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Tourist Note JAPAN