Are you looking for a true local experience in Tokyo? Then you should definitely check out one of the city’s many lively izakaya alleys! An izakaya is Japanese style dining bar where people enjoy drinking and eating. Izakaya alleys tend to get pretty crowded with locals at dinner time when people get off work, especially on Fridays. This is a great way for you to experience the famous Japanese drinking culture right alongside the local people who are often regulars. Let’s dive into the 5 best izakaya alleys you should visit during your stay in Tokyo!
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1. Omoide Yokocho (Shinjuku)
Omoide Yokocho (memory Lane in English) is a maze of small alleys, and is only a 3 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station’s west exit. The moment you walk into the alleyway, you can’t help but get a nostalgic feeling. This Izakaya alley opened around 1946 after WWII and there are numerous small restaurants and food stalls that offer typical izakaya food such as yakitori. Over the years some of the older style izakaya have been replaced by new, trendy food and drink shops that specialize in things like bubble tea, but you can still find many good older izakaya style restaurants that have more character. Try yakitori and beer on our fun Izakaya Hopping Tour in Shinjuku which will give you the chance to try all the local’s best recommendations that you would never find on your own!
It is said to be the popular alcoholic drink called “highball” first appeared in this Izakaya! We recommend you try the original highball which is made of shochu, plum juice and sparkling water. If you’re here, you should also order Kushiyaki, which are grilled skewers that go great with a nice cold highball. It’s hard to beat this old school izakaya with delicious food and drink and a fun atmosphere.
2. Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu)
A stone’s throw away from Ebisu station, 20 unique izakaya welcome you at the cozy Ebisu Yokocho. The indoor alley was constructed from an old shopping mall and people opened izakaya with the hope of bringing customers back. There are various different kinds of restaurants such as Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and Oden (Japanese stew). You can enjoy hopping among these Izakaya all night and connecting with the local people!
Kato shoten Nikuzushi
Have you ever heard of meat sushi? Kato Shoten Nikusushi is the world’s only place which specializes in meat sushi. You can even eat horse meat sushi here! It would make your Japanese food experience all the more unique. It’s open until 5am so you can enjoy nightlife to the fullest before ending the night at this famous spot.
3. Hoppy Dori (Asakusa)
After you finish sightseeing in Asakusa, it’s always fun to make a stop at Hoppy Dori (Hoppy Street)! Hoppy Dori was named after the drink called Hoppy; an almost non-alcoholic drink that tastes like beer. It was invented back in early 1920s, and at the time beer was considered a luxury drink so Hoppy became all the more popular around Japan as it was cheaper.
Hoppy Dori is west of the famous Sensoji temple, and is packed with izakaya that have the typical old-school charm of Tokyo. You will see many people sitting in the outdoor seats and enjoying day drinking in the afternoon along this bustling street.
If you go to Daikatsu, we recommend you get stewed beef tendons with a nice Hoppy!
▼Want to hit all the best local spots? Book our Asakusa bar hopping tour!
4. Shibuya Niku Yokocho (Shibuya)
This is the best destination for all the meat lovers! There are 28 izakaya here that all specialize in meat. They not only serve Japanese food, but also Korean BBQ, Brazilian churrasco and Thai food among other things. Shibuya Niku Yokocho is also a great place to meet people. You will have the opportunity to meet some local Japanese people and have fun together eating delicious food!
Nikutennokuni means Meat Heaven in English. They serve meat tempura and meat sushi. The most popular menu is Uniku, a rolled meat rice ball with sea urchin. Many young people order them to take pictures for their social media pages because they look pretty amazing. And of course, they taste delicious too!
5. Hobo Shinjuku Noren Gai (Yoyogi)
Hobo Shinjuku Noren Gai in Yoyogi opened in 2017 as an izakaya district which consists of renovated Japanese traditional style houses. They converted 7 kominka (Japanese traditional style houses) into izakaya and they have both a nostalgic and novel atmosphere. It is only a one minute walk from Yoyogi Station but you will find it in a quiet neighborhood. So this is a great place to chill, relax and enjoy the night!
Kaiyaki Sakaba Kaifornia
When you’re here, try their fresh seafood(mostly “kai”, or shellfish) at Kaiyaki Sakaba Kaifornia! There will be a grill at the table in front of you and you can eat the fresh shellfish right off the grill. Enjoy some big Japanese oysters!
Fun fact: this izakaya has been renovated from a car garage. You can still spot some tire marks inside.
Bar Hopping Tours in Tokyo
In a city as big as Tokyo, it can be really difficult sometimes to pick out the best spots to eat and drink at, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. Taking a tour with an experienced and well versed guide who knows the area like the back of their hand is always a good idea, and will let you enjoy things to the fullest. Not only will you feel more at ease, but you will get to try some of the best food and drinks at places you may never have discovered on your own.
Asakusa bar hopping tour along Hoppy Dori
Explore Shinjuku and go to the best eats and drinks!
Nothing beats an evening out drinking and eating with your friends with a great atmosphere. When you visit Tokyo, make sure you visit one of the many izakaya alleys and have a real local experience! Maybe even make some new friends. It will be such a great experience that you will never experience in the other countries!
Japan Wonder Travel Food Tours
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots!
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help!
▶Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English speaking guide!
▶Tokyo Local Street Food and Drink Tour @Sunamachi
This food tour will take you to one of the lesser-known areas of Tokyo, that is Sunamachi Ginza. You will walk through the shop filled street with your guide and be able to try some of the delicious local street foods including tempura, inari sushi, oden, among others!
▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.
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