Photo: URAIWONS/Shutterstock

This Rowdy Alleyway Is the Best Place to Drink Beer and People Watch in Tokyo

Restaurants + Bars
by Elisabeth Sherman Jan 13, 2023

Amid the pandemonium of city life in Tokyo, there is a charming, narrow alleyway strung up with red lanterns. This street is called Omoide Yokochō – and it’s all about delicious food.

@foodwtf Omoide Yokocho' is a popular walkway in #Tokyo that features a selection of food stalls and bars 🎥 IG: @tsuguaki_abe #japantravel #foodie #foodtok #tokyoguide #tokyofoodguide ♬ Itachi – Nxnja Beats

Located near Shinjuku Station, Omoide Yokochō (which translates to Memory Lane) is known for its cramped space, where all the bars and restaurants, with outdoor countertops and stools facing the street are pressed up against each other, but that’s all part of the charm.

Barbecue and yakitori (a japanese barbecue dish that consists of skewered meats; yakitori also comes in varieties like fish and pork belly) are especially popular here. The restaurants specialize in izakaya dining – small plates, served with (alcoholic) beverages, where guests can settle in, relax, people watch, and take their time eating. It’s casual, but you don’t have to worry about hurrying out the door.

Just like many other places in Tokyo, Omoide Yokochō might seem secluded but it actually gets busy. In particular, workers and businessmen flock to this street to enjoy a beer in the fresh evening air after a stressful day at the office.

A man  grilled yakitori on Omoide Yokocho while diners sit at the counter

Photo: Vassamon Anansukkasem/Shutterstock

Although there is an air of old-fashioned nostalgia to Omoide Yokochō (which has been around as a market and in other forms since at least World War II) visitors will find English language menus at most of the restaurants.

The best time to visit Omoide Yokochō is in the evening, when the atmosphere is electric and busy. Although it might be crowded, experiencing the somewhat rowdy energy of this street is all part of the experience.

Enjoying a beer is tradition on Omoide Yokochō, and you’ll probably see lots of people smoking, too, which is still common in Japan. If you drink, pull up a stool and order a beer and take part in the excellent people watching.

Notoriously, the alleyway has only one public bathroom even though there are around 60 restaurants. Don’t worry – most establishments have their own toilets these days. No, Omoide Yokochō but spending an evening there will give you insight into Japanese culture that more manicured tourist traps simply won’t.

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