Nepal | August 20, 2019

Making most of small spaces in Tokyo’s Golden Gai

ASSOCIATED PRESS

TOKYO: It’s no secret Tokyoites are masters of making the most of space.

Take the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district: Tucked between the Kabukicho entertainment district and Hanazono Shrine, nearly 280 bars and restaurants are squeezed into an area about the size of half a soccer field.

Tokyo Small Spaces

People walk through narrow alleyways clustered with tiny bars and restaurants at the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, July 28, 2019. Photo: AP

Tokyo Small Spaces

A group of Japanese women are crammed around a table as they eat their dinner in a bar at the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, July 17, 2019. Photo: AP

Tokyo Small Spaces

A man walks down the steps of a bar at the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, July 17, 2019. Photo: AP

Tokyo Small Spaces

A man walks up a narrow staircase leading to a bar at the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, July 26, 2019. Photo: AP

The Golden Gai is a sliver of old Tokyo in a modern metropolis filled with endless gleaming buildings. It’s a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction, for sure. But it’s also a place for a few drinks and friendly chatter among exhausted workers known as “salarymen.”

Everything is smaller and narrower in this warren of shacks. Most bars seat seven or eight with little room to move. Some foreigners jokingly pose for photos that exaggerate their struggles with small doors and narrow staircases.

That didn’t stop 6-foot-7 Alaina Traxler, of Portland, Oregon, from enjoying his first visit. Traxler loved its cosiness and intimacy.

“I was folded up in there. I’m literally taller than the room is,” Traxler said. “Absolutely worth squeezing in.”


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