- What is Omoide Yokocho?
- How to enjoy the Omoyoko Autumn Festival
- Where to buy tickets
- Similar Events this month
What is Omoide Yokocho?
‘Omoide Yokocho’, meaning ‘Memory Lane’ is a small part of the Shinjuku West Gate shopping street area. It’s a tiny maze made of small alleys large enough for one or two persons, where you can find about 60 old fashioned izakayas (Japanese-style snack bars).
After the Second World War, it used the be a black-market place, when flour to make ramen noodles and udon noodles used to be goods controlled by the government. People started selling these foods there, soon adding local alcoholic drinks and new dishes such as motsu-yaki (pig entrails), which at the time would be cheaper than yakitori (chicken skewers). Shops were built tightly, only divided by a single board.
During the 60s, the numbers of shops fell from 300 to 60, due to the extension of the Metro system and the building of new terminals. Then in 1999, a fire destroyed the area, and it was rebuilt under its current name.
For a long time, it has been considered a shady, dirty and dangerous place. Women would not set a foot there. Today, anyone can visit Omoide Yokocho without worries, but the charm of its origins remains: small alleys, the smoke of the motsu-yaki and yakitori being grilled, and relaxed bartenders. If you dare to step in, you will feel like you’re visiting post-war era Japan!
How to enjoy the Omoyoko Autumn Festival
‘Omoyoko Aki Matsuri’, as it is called in Japanese, will last for three day from Monday, October 1st to Wednesday, October 3rd. It’s a great way to visit different bars in the area for a cheaper price than usual and maybe win a prize! Here is how to do:
1. Bring your ticket to the event’s booth in front of Tajima Coffee House near Shinjuku Station (Address: 1-2-6 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo). The booth will be open from 5pm to 11pm.
2. There, you will receive three tickets, and a leaflet with a map of the 39 participating bars.
3. Visit your first bar! When entering the bar, make sure to say ‘Aki Matsuri’ and show one of your three tickets. Your ticket will be exchanged for a drink +a dish chosen by the izakaya (in some places you may choose between several drinks – check the pamphlet to see what drinks and food are available).
4. After eating and drinking, make sure to receive a stamp from the shop on your pamphlet! DO NOT lose your pamphlet as you cannot be given a new one.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 in two other bars. You may order other food and drinks, but please note you will have to pay for them separately. Also, please understand bars may be a little crowded because of the event and you may have to wait before entering.
6. Once you have 3 stamps, go back to the event’s booth, and try your luck at the lottery! This year’s prizes include Trips to Taiwan and Seoul, nights in a Shinjuku hotel, a dinner in a fine restaurant, etc…
Where to buy tickets
1. On the day of the event: At the event’s booth in front of Tajima Coffee House. Price: 2800 yens.
2. Before the event:
- – On the eplus website (Japanese Only): Eplus Tickets
- – At some H.I.S travel agencies in the Shinjuku area: H.I.S Shinjuku Headquarters, H.I.S Shinjuku East Exit Head Office, H.I.S Hawaii Shinjuku Sanchome Office, H.I.S Shinjuku West Exit Office.
Price: 2500 yens.
Similar Events this month
Shinjuku is organizing many similar events this month!
- – The Omoide Yokocho Festival from October 1st to October 3rd
- – The Bar Hop Night in Shinjuku Sanchome on October, Saturday 6th
- – The Golden Gai Autumn Festival on October, Sunday 7th
- – The Gyoen autumn Bar on October 11th and 12th
- – The world wine festival on Sunday, October 14th
- – And our personal favorite, the Arakicho Kabuku bar-hopping festival! It will take place on Saturday, October 13th. Some members of the Tadaima Japan team will be there to give you information, and others will participate to report it live… If you’d like a to enjoy bar hopping in very good bars in a less touristy place, it’s a must-do!