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Published on 06.07.2016
You probably associate the Western Shinjuku area with towering ultra-modern skyscrapers. You’ll be definitely surprised when you walk into this small alley with a nostalgic atmosphere and that is one of the attractions of Tokyo: innovation and tradition exists side by side.
Omoide yokocho is situated between Shinjuku Palette building (a.k.a. Shinjuku West gate Hall) and the massive intersection gate at the Shinjuku station beside the railways. 80 small bars and eateries are crowded in a less than 100m long alley.
The history of Omoide yokocho goes back to the immediate postwar years. Black markets (yami ich) sprung up this area since it had been previously destroyed by the air raid. Since food was strictly rationed at the time, eateries selling grilled organs of pigs and cows, which were otherwise thrown away by the American occupation troops, were established. Such food is called “motsu-yaki” (grilled organs) or is now often known by the more familiar name “yakitori” (grilled chicken). That is why there are so many “motsu-yaki” and “yakitori” eateries still here.
Omoide yokocho, means alley of memories, though it once was called Shonben yokocho (piss alley). This infamous name was given because there were no toilets here. Fortunately, there is a public toilet here now, however, it’s unisex and its 2 cubicles are both squatting style. I would recommend that ladies to use another toilet before the visit.
Access from Shinjuku station East exit (1minute walk)
Step out of JR Shinjuku station's east exit and walk along the left side. Before you reach the road, you will see a pedestrian underpass on your left. Follow this underpass, and within seconds walking straight, you will find the green neon signs above the alleys.
Access from Shinjuku station West exit (1minute walk)
With Keio department on your left hand side and Odakyu department at your back, walk along the right side. In a minute, you will see a UNIQLO building on the corner. Go around the corner, and you will find the green neon signs as the entrance of the alley.
Useful area map in English
Here are some eateries I recommend
Order “Hito tori” (complete) for various type of 7 skewers
Tel: 03 3342 7671
Close: Sundays and bank holidays
Cheap common food and drink. Lively atmosphere
Tel: 03 3343 4078
Close: check their Facebook for irregular closing dates
Ramen, Fried noodle
One of the oldest eateries in this alley