Officially named Omoide Yokocho (Memory Alley), but more commonly referred to as Piss Alley, this is a classic low brow dining and drinking experience.

Step into the steaming alley and you’ll be greeted with infeasibly small yakitori shacks and izakaya sandwiched next to each other along a narrow and very greasy walkway. Once an illicit drinking quarter in the post-war period, the narrow street was packed with hostess bars and bars, but no toilets. Forced to relieve themselves on the neighboring train tracks, drinkers gave the alley a lasting reputation.

People eating at a yakitori stall in Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku
One of the many yakitori stalls in Omoide Yokocho | Photo by

Unfortunately, many of the original spots were lost in a fire in 1999, but a close approximation was rebuilt to maintain the yesteryear ambience. If you’re heading down these days, you’ll want to start with beer, sake or shochu. Check our guide to Japan’s classic drinks to get to grips with the options.

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To line your stomach, Yakitori (grilled meat skewers) are the most popular drinking accompaniment here, along with nikomi (a beef tendon stew).

If you’re looking for some additional drinking alleys, check out Nomiya Yokocho or our guide to the best options in the city.

If you’d like someone to introduce you to all the secret spots, book this guided tour by a local.