A #Wanderlust Trip To Tokyo’s Golden Gai Nightlife – With Live Musical Performance!

Tokyo late night neon

2020 #Wanderlust – Remembering An Electrified Tokyo Night!

I should have been in Paris three weeks ago.

I was scheduled to head to Greece next week.

Like all of you, the worldwide pandemic has brought travel to a virtual standstill.

Even with restrictions slowly lifting, most countries are slow to encourage travel – especially places like Tokyo, where things can get crowded:

Shibuya is the world’s busiest intersection, and I don’t know how “social distancing” is possible.

So, as I stay at home living a #Quarantinelife, I can also share a bit of #Wanderlust with you – the story of my trip to Tokyo in 2016 with my wife and son, and our wild last night, thanks to this:

Golden Gai Tokyo bar music live

Golden Gai’s Musical Maestro!

Meet Yuko Yamazaki! He’s a great singer/songwriter from Japan… this great musician lives in Tokyo, and also happens to work at one of Golden Gai’s best mini-bars!

Golden Gai nightlife

Welcome To Tokyo’s Unique Golden Gai!

Golden Gai is a great night life area in Tokyo’s Kabuki-Cho district – this unique spot houses 275 bars in a three block radius!

That’s right, each bar is so small it only holds 6-10 people! Here is an aerial view at night, which I found online:


Tokyo Golden Gai bar district

Here is what it looks like after dark – note that each bar has a narrow stairway next to it that leads to another tiny bar on the second floor…it’s a great place to explore:

Golden Gai bar district Tokyo

Golden Gai is a great Tokyo nightspot – staying open well into the night for tourists and locals alike. Some bars are less friendly to foreigners, but for the most part, signs make it clear that you are welcome to come in for a beer, whiskey or sake…which of course we did…


I have been to this bar district four times previously to this Tokyo trip, filming some great stories. Here’s the adventure we filmed with Host Alex Sim-Wise for G4 – the night she and her friend Rachel jumped behind the counter at Golden Gai’s anime bar to pour some drinks for customers:


As you can see, the night lights of Kabuki-cho were ready for us:

kabukicho panorama

Golden Gai is just a few blocks from the famed nightlife district known as Kabuki-cho, and we met there for our last night to Tokyo fun! Kabuki-Chi is full of nightclubs, bars, restaurants and crazy people…

Jeff and Chris at Golden Gai

Golden Gai nightlife Tokyo

Introducing Yuko Yamasaki!

My son Jeff found a great bar that had an eclectic mix of music, and since it only sat six people, the four of us almost filled it – and I got to meet the great Tokyo musician Yuko Yamasaki!

Yuko Yamazaki musician Tokyo

Yuko worked in the bar, serving drinks, playing music, and greeting us warmly – even though he spoke no english! He and Jeff bonded over their mutual love of music!

We got some drinks while Yuko put some classic Creedence Clearwater Revival on the CD player, and then surprised us by disappearing behind a short wall for a minute –

Golden Gai bars and food

Yuko’s “Surprise” Potatoes And Bacon!

That’s right, in a small corner of the bar, Yuko whipped up a small plate of food for Alex!

After having a few beers, a bit of Japanese whiskey and lots of conversation, Yuko grabbed his guitar…

Golden Gai bar music

It turns out Jeff had been to this bar alone a few nights earlier and befriended Yuko, discovering that he was an incredible musician – and once he had his guitar tuned, he played us an original song:

It was such a great night, and we ended up staying at Yuko’s bar for more than two hours!

last night at cocos

Getting’ Your Tonkatsu On!

To end the night, we all poured into Coco Curry, a Tokyo institution, where they serve pork “tonkatsu”, a deep fried breaded pork cutlet served over rice and smothered in curry sauce…

us eating coco Tokyo fast food

It was an amazing musical adventure, and a delicious end to a great Tokyo adventure…of course, the entire trip was full of amazing food adventures like this terrific “eel” bowl…

eel bowl

Alex and I ate here on our first night….the restaurant was on the top of a huge department store, the entire floor filled with restaurants – and we found ourselves doing this:

You can find out what an “eel waiting room” is by clicking on my story here:


We also enjoyed “sushi for breakfast”, a unique experience that I do at the world famous Tokyo Fish Market Tsukiji!

Tokyo breakfast sushi 2016 Tsukiji fish market closing

Here is my look at Tokyo’s legendary fish market, which was re-located to make way for the now-delayed Olympics…some cool behind-the-scenes video is here:


I also took the time to eat a burger in Tokyo – I mean, who am I, right?

unique cheeseburger products plasticised in Tokyo

I also bought myself a triple decker burger – plasticized! Check out this shop that specializes in all kinds of “plastic food” by clicking on that story here:


I hope this bit of #Wanderlust holds you over until you can travel again!

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Categories: Art, Exotic Travel, Japan, Memoirs, Music, Pop Culture, Tokyo!, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I really enjoyed the video, John. Tokyo looks amazing. Hopefully by next year things are more normal and we can all start seeing the world again.


  2. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    Tokyo’s “Golden Gai” district included a live musical performance from a terrific Musician – enjoy!


  3. You travel far and wide, John, and more than most of us. I can well imagine how that has made you feel restricted by the pandemic travel bans. All I had to cancel was five nights in Wales, and that may yet still be possible. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your night in Tokyo. The sushi looks delicious! And hopefully we can all travel safely again, especiall in big cities like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating! The mini bars sound very cool. I would have loved that back in the day. Eel, not so much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A great post, John. Tokyo looks fascinating. I like the look of that eel.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, this brings new meaning to the term ‘mini-bar!’ This looks like it would be a crazy blast adventure to say the least!



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