Tokyo has some of the best nightlife in Asia. One of the most pleasant experiences though is also one of the simplest. Go to one of the many old alleyways or yokochos and join salary men and locals for a drink. In my quest to find the best yokocho in Tokyo, here are a few which are within the main city area.
The most popular of the lot with tourists and the most crowded too. Still a good place to get your hands on some yakitori.
Not far from Ginza, Yurakucho becomes alive after 6pm. Just drop by one of the small izakayas under the train track and mingle with the locals. You’ll be speaking Japanese after your nth sake.
Hard to believe that such a yokocho is alive and kicking only steps away from Shibuya. Escape the noise and head down there. Izakayas are tiny though so be there early.
An indoor yokocho with many a food stall. I prefer al fresco so I just walked through that one.
Harmonica Yokocho is great for shopping. it features two long alleyways of independent shopping outlets criss-crossing each other. The highlight for me though was the izakaya section (on the left side from the main entrance closest to the train station. I had some of the best yakitoris here including my favourites bonjiri (chicken ass), kawa (chicken skin), gyutan (beef tongue) and sunagimo (chicken gizzards). Talking about yakitori, here’s a good guide to learn how to order your favourite in Japanese: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/yakitori.
Golden Gai is my favourite place to hang out at night in Tokyo. So much in fact that I always find a hotel around the area so I can easily crawl my way back in the wee hours of the morning. While Golden Gai has dozens of bars, many are members only. There are a few however which are friendly to tourists. Just look for any signs in English. Many of those will charge you an entrance fee though. Understandable considering a number of them can accommodate barely 5 customers.
Sankaku Chitai is Sangenjaya is a real maze. It’s crowded with mostly local salary men. There’s a number of izakayas which offer some great fare. It seems the place gets awfully crowded pretty quickly so go early to avoid any disappointment.