One of the best experiences in Japan is drinking at a bar on a traditional, lantern-lit alleyway known as yokocho. This is where you can experience the exciting Japanese drinking culture in its full authenticity, full of Japanese-style pubs known as izakaya.
There are dozens of them in just Tokyo alone, and a lot of them are hidden and tucked away off the beaten path. Here are the best 12 izakaya alleys in Tokyo you should check out (and get drunk at)!
1. Omoide Yokocho (Shinjuku)
The most famous yokocho of them all is Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku, conveniently located next to the busy Shinjuku Station. Other names for this street are “Memory Line” and “Piss Alley”. This narrow alleyway is full of lit red lanterns and small izakayas packed with both locals and tourists. It’s perfect for a short stop for a japanese beer or an Insta shot!
Location: Omoide Yokocho
If you want to get awesome pictures of you in Omoide Yokocho and more photogenic places in Shinjuku, you can book this Photo Trip! So, a local photographer based in Tokyo will take you to his favourite photo spots and will take gorgeous pictures that will blow up your Instagram!
2. Golden Gai (Shinjuku)
Also in Shinjuku is the famous Golden Gai. Rather than just an alleyway, Golden Gai is an area consisting of a few alleyways and way more tiny izakayas (270 to be exact). It’s more of a tourist attraction and you rarely see locals going here, but the atmosphere makes it worth visiting.
Prices here can be a little bit more expensive, but if you’re careful, you can still have an amazing night out.
Location: Golden Gai
3. Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu)
Ebisu Yokocho is built on the remains of the old Yamashita Shopping Center. This yokocho is mainly a food alley rather than a drinking street, serving everything from Chinese to good old oden and gyoza. But not to fret, there are also bars here that sell beers, sake and even wine.
Location: Ebisu Yokocho
4. Harmonica Yokocho (Kichijoji)
In the small neighbourhood of Kichijoji, Harmonica Yokocho opens as early as lunchtime. That’s because this yokocho has amazing restaurants that have been open since the 90s, as well as clothing stores and stalls selling street food like taiyaki and tonkatsu. At nighttime, though, this yokocho turns into a drinking street with pop-up standing bars.
If you want to visit this Yokocho with a guide, feel free to book this Izakaya Tour.
5. Ameya Yokocho (Ueno)
Originally a black marketplace post-war, Ameya Yokocho in Ueno is now a (legal) market with over 400 shops selling souvenirs, food, fruit, clothes and even plants. It’s a little far out of the city centre, but that makes the items here much more affordable.
There are also food stalls (and even a few bars too), so if you’re looking for a more all-around yokocho, Ameya is the one for you.
Location: Ameya Yokocho
6. Shibuya Yokocho
You’ve probably heard about the new commercial centre Miyashita park in Shibuya but did you know that it has it’s own Yokocho? It’s located in the first floor of the building and it has an indoor and an outdoor area.
The indoor alley is around 100m long and it has 19 shops that offer 2500 food items! This modern Yokocho has been built like an old traditional Izakaya alley and the atmosphere here is really enjoyable! As it’s super popular, make sure you go there early to secure your seats.
Location: Shibuya Yokocho
7. Sankaku Chitai Yokocho (Sangenjaya)
A less touristy yokocho is Sankaku Chitai Yokocho, located in the Sangenjaya neighbourhood. This yokocho is in the shape of a triangle and is lined with pubs, food stalls and other types of shops. It has a more old-school atmosphere, making the experience even more authentic.
Every type of street food including gyoza, takoyaki and yakitori can be found here, as well as bars with a few refreshing drafts of beer.
Location: Sankaku Chitai Yokocho
8. Okazu Yokocho (Okachimachi)
This yokocho is more of a shopping street rather than a drinking street, but an amazing one to visit nonetheless. Okazu Yokocho is in Okachimachi and has about 230 shops. It’s a big area with a vibrant atmosphere, which will definitely offer an amazing experience.
Most of these stalls sell groceries, but there are a few food stalls with tables and chairs on the roadside for you to stop and have a munch at.
Location: Okazu Yokocho
9. Nonbei Yokocho (Shibuya)
Translated to “Drunkard Alley”, this yokocho is located right next to Shibuya Station. Nonbei Yokocho was originally the head office of the Tokyu Railway Corporation but it’s now home to bars and eateries selling popular izakaya food like yakitori and teppanyaki.
Location: Nonbei Yokocho
You May Also Like: Best Teppanyaki Restaurants in Tokyo
10. Amazake Yokocho (Ningyocho)
Tucked away in the Ningyocho district is Amazake Yokocho. This street is only 400 meters long but it is full of amazing stalls selling “downtown gourmet”, desserts and knick-knacks.
While it only has 70 shops on this street, it is definitely still worth a visit for a quick bite of tamagoyaki or yakitori. If you want to try local desserts as well, Amazake Yokocho is a great place to try sweet anko bean cakes and taiyaki!
Location: Amazake Yokocho
11. Hoppy Dori (Asakusa)
Hoppy Dori is conveniently located in Asakusa, near the famous Sensoji temple, so once you’re done with sightseeing and shopping in the area, you can relax at an izakaya on this yokocho with a refreshing beer. It’s quite famous for Okonomiyaki or Monjayaki so make sure you try it out!
This alley is named after the drink called Hoppy, which is a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like beer and got very popular in the early 1920s when beer was considered a luxury item.
Location: Hoppy Dori
12. Hobo Shinjuku Noren Gai (Yoyogi)
This last yokocho is fairly new compared to the rest, as it was opened in 2017. Hobo Shinjuku Noren Gai can be found in Yoyogi, and this izakaya district consists of former Japanese traditional-style houses into pubs. It’s only a minute’s walk from Yoyogi Station, and a great place to hang out after a stroll through Yoyogi Park.
Location: Hobo Shinjuku Noren Gai
I hope you enjoyed this Top 12 of the best yokocho in Tokyo!
As you can see, this dozen of izakaya alleys offers everything from the full-on drinking experience to a more casual and relaxing atmosphere. Going to a local izakaya, especially one at a yokocho, is one of the best ways to experience the Japanese culture authentically, so be sure to pop by a few of them on this list when you’re in Japan!