My Guide to Tokyo’s ‘Piss Alley’ (Omoide Yokocho aka Memory Lane)

The way this alley breathes food, drinks, and nostalgia makes this place a must try culinary dining (and drinking) experience when you're in Tokyo.
Omoide Yokocho_A busy izakaya scene at Tatchan in Piss Alley

For a place that’s nicknamed literally after piss, Omoide Yokocho or ‘Memory Lane’, also affectionately known as ‘Piss Alley’ is one culinary experience that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Tokyo. Located in the Shinjuku area (very near and walkable from the famed Kabukicho red light district, just across the iconic Yunika Vision screen), it’s very easy to get to and include in your trip.

Omoide Yokocho_One of the entrances at Piss Alley
One of the entrances to Omoide Yokocho.
Omoide Yokocho_The vibe at Piss Alley

Omoide Yokocho is literally a maze of very narrow alleyways (you can find the official Omoide Yokocho map here) that’s lined with about 60 intimate eateries and cozy izakayas that’ll make you want to get it on the action, each having just enough wiggle room to serve a few people. Back in the days during the post-war Showa era, it started as a run-down alleyway of bars or izakayas selling cheap drinks and cheap grilled meat of all kinds so that it’s affordable to cash-strapped individuals who were affected by the war. It has since maintained and improved upon its nostalgic post-war Showa era charm and because of this, it earned the name Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) because the term ‘omoide’ loosely translates to ‘nostalgia’.

Omoide Yokocho_Saitamaya No.2 izakaya at Piss Alley
If oden stew is your thing, Saitamaya is your best bet.

Omoide Yokocho or Memory Lane got its nickname ‘Piss Alley’ because back in the days they did not have any proper restroom facilities and as a result, patrons often relieved themselves in the alleys, hence this somewhat off-putting moniker. But don’t be put off by its nickname because they now have proper toilets so “piss” should not be a problem. 😉

Omoide Yokocho_Toilet Sign at Piss Alley
Not to worry – toilets are now available at Omoide Yokocho 🙂

The Omoide Yokocho Experience

Omoide Yokocho_Tourists exploring Piss Alley

I went to this place and man, the smells were amazing and the vibe is just full of energy and that showa-era aesthetic definitely gave me the nostalgic feels. As I walked down the Memory Lane there were live grilling and cooking, with fire spitting out of their woks and grills, and smoke wafting that smelled so good and so inviting I just had to stop to see what’s cookin’.

Omoide Yokocho_Patrons enjoying a night out at Sasamoto izakaya in Piss Alley
Sasamoto, a cozy izakaya serving miso offal hot pot and sashimi.

The narrow pathway is just wide enough to fit only about 3 people, but it was enough to create this lively and somewhat entertaining experience, with some seats spilling on the already narrow pathway and the live cooking just at the entrance of each izakaya making you want to come in and have a try. As I strolled by it was a sensory experience – I could hear the shouting of the cooks and the chitter chatter of the patrons, as well as the sizzle of the grills and bursting of the flames. It’s so narrow that it’s a sensory overload in a good way, and it’s the energy of this place that makes it a must-stop when you’re in Shinjuku area.

Omoide Yokocho_A busy izakaya scene at Tatchan in Piss Alley
Tatchan, a busy izakaya along Omoide Yokocho is known for their broiled seafood and motsuyaki (offal), as well as their tsukune (chiken balls on skewer).

Best time to visit

In case you didn’t know – Omoide Yokocho is open 24 hours, but the time when it’s most lively is during dinner time until late at night. During lunch this place is packed with patrons lining up for ramen and goes a bit quieter but still open late into the afternoon, then it transforms into a high-energy dining and nightlife scene early into the night until much later.

Omoide Yokocho_Chefs cooking with fire at restaurant Morimasu in Piss Alley
Fiery grill at work at Morimasu, where you can get fresh grilled seafood.

Trying to avoid the rush hour to get the place all to yourself and avoid having to wait? Yes you can do this if you’re in to try their food without spending too much time. The thing is though, Omoide Yokocho is an experience in its own – people don’t just go here for the food, people go here for the entire experience. If anything my one tip is: If you have the time, try not to avoid the busy hours because the busy hours is what make this place fully alive.

Omoide Yokocho_A busy dining scene at Jisaku in Piss Alley
Izakaya Jisaku‘s yakisoba is definitely worth a try – in fact they’ve been popular for it for 5 decades now.

What to eat

Grilled yakitori paired with cold beer, highball or sake is what Omoide Yokocho is most known for and most of the restaurants and bars serve it and that’s what they grill along the alley, so you better try when you’re here. They also serve grilled seafood such as unagi (eel) which restaurant Kabuto is known for, as well as motsu (innards) such as pig or cow intestines if you’re into it, aside from the usual ramen, oden, and sushi which are offered by some restaurants in the alley.

Omoide Yokocho_Grilling yakitori at Piss Alley

There are over 60 bar and restaurants to choose from which you can explore in advance via Omoide Yokocho’s own English website (yes, for a tiny alley they have their own English website). Some restaurants you can make a reservation for but most do not accept reservations so better plan ahead. Also as with most of Japan, most bars and restaurants here are cash only.

Is it worth a visit?

There are a lot of yokochos or small alleyways in Tokyo, so what makes Omoide Yokocho stand out? Well, just for the post-war Showa era charm alone and the old-town way this alleyway is packed with small izakayas that’s packed with people enjoying their food and drink and the sights and sounds and smells that you get to experience here, I think Omoide Yokocho unique on its own and has it’s own unique charm that makes it stand out from other yokochos so for me it’s worth a visit.

Omoide Yokocho_Patrons enjoying a night out at Horaiya 1 izakaya in Piss Alley
Patrons enjoying a night out at Horaiya 1 which was established in 1947 and is known to serve the first motsuyaki (charcoal broiled offal) in Omoide Yokocho.

Things to do nearby

All of these are just a few minutes’ walk (5 to 10 minutes) from Omoide Yokocho: Shinjuku’s Kabukicho red light district where you can find Don Quijote’s huge Shinjuku store as well as Kabukicho Tower and the rooftop Godzilla statue, Golden Gai (it’s like the Omoide Yokocho of bars), and JR Shinjuku Station.

Do you have any questions or tips to share about Omoide Yokocho’s iconic alleyway? Feel free to comment down below and I’ll get back to you the soonest! 🙂

Have any questions, or tips to share? Feel free to comment down below! 🙂

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Omoide Yokocho_A busy izakaya scene at Tatchan in Piss Alley

My Guide to Tokyo’s ‘Piss Alley’ (Omoide Yokocho aka Memory Lane)

The way this alley breathes food, drinks, and nostalgia makes this place a must try culinary dining (and drinking) experience when you're in Tokyo.

For a place that’s nicknamed literally after piss, Omoide Yokocho or ‘Memory Lane’, also affectionately known as ‘Piss Alley’ is one culinary experience that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Tokyo. Located in the Shinjuku area (very near and walkable from the famed Kabukicho red light district, just across the iconic Yunika Vision screen), it’s very easy to get to and include in your trip.

Omoide Yokocho_One of the entrances at Piss Alley
One of the entrances to Omoide Yokocho.
Omoide Yokocho_The vibe at Piss Alley

Omoide Yokocho is literally a maze of very narrow alleyways (you can find the official Omoide Yokocho map here) that’s lined with about 60 intimate eateries and cozy izakayas that’ll make you want to get it on the action, each having just enough wiggle room to serve a few people. Back in the days during the post-war Showa era, it started as a run-down alleyway of bars or izakayas selling cheap drinks and cheap grilled meat of all kinds so that it’s affordable to cash-strapped individuals who were affected by the war. It has since maintained and improved upon its nostalgic post-war Showa era charm and because of this, it earned the name Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) because the term ‘omoide’ loosely translates to ‘nostalgia’.

Omoide Yokocho_Saitamaya No.2 izakaya at Piss Alley
If oden stew is your thing, Saitamaya is your best bet.

Omoide Yokocho or Memory Lane got its nickname ‘Piss Alley’ because back in the days they did not have any proper restroom facilities and as a result, patrons often relieved themselves in the alleys, hence this somewhat off-putting moniker. But don’t be put off by its nickname because they now have proper toilets so “piss” should not be a problem. 😉

Omoide Yokocho_Toilet Sign at Piss Alley
Not to worry – toilets are now available at Omoide Yokocho 🙂

The Omoide Yokocho Experience

Omoide Yokocho_Tourists exploring Piss Alley

I went to this place and man, the smells were amazing and the vibe is just full of energy and that showa-era aesthetic definitely gave me the nostalgic feels. As I walked down the Memory Lane there were live grilling and cooking, with fire spitting out of their woks and grills, and smoke wafting that smelled so good and so inviting I just had to stop to see what’s cookin’.

Omoide Yokocho_Patrons enjoying a night out at Sasamoto izakaya in Piss Alley
Sasamoto, a cozy izakaya serving miso offal hot pot and sashimi.

The narrow pathway is just wide enough to fit only about 3 people, but it was enough to create this lively and somewhat entertaining experience, with some seats spilling on the already narrow pathway and the live cooking just at the entrance of each izakaya making you want to come in and have a try. As I strolled by it was a sensory experience – I could hear the shouting of the cooks and the chitter chatter of the patrons, as well as the sizzle of the grills and bursting of the flames. It’s so narrow that it’s a sensory overload in a good way, and it’s the energy of this place that makes it a must-stop when you’re in Shinjuku area.

Omoide Yokocho_A busy izakaya scene at Tatchan in Piss Alley
Tatchan, a busy izakaya along Omoide Yokocho is known for their broiled seafood and motsuyaki (offal), as well as their tsukune (chiken balls on skewer).

Best time to visit

In case you didn’t know – Omoide Yokocho is open 24 hours, but the time when it’s most lively is during dinner time until late at night. During lunch this place is packed with patrons lining up for ramen and goes a bit quieter but still open late into the afternoon, then it transforms into a high-energy dining and nightlife scene early into the night until much later.

Omoide Yokocho_Chefs cooking with fire at restaurant Morimasu in Piss Alley
Fiery grill at work at Morimasu, where you can get fresh grilled seafood.

Trying to avoid the rush hour to get the place all to yourself and avoid having to wait? Yes you can do this if you’re in to try their food without spending too much time. The thing is though, Omoide Yokocho is an experience in its own – people don’t just go here for the food, people go here for the entire experience. If anything my one tip is: If you have the time, try not to avoid the busy hours because the busy hours is what make this place fully alive.

Omoide Yokocho_A busy dining scene at Jisaku in Piss Alley
Izakaya Jisaku‘s yakisoba is definitely worth a try – in fact they’ve been popular for it for 5 decades now.

What to eat

Grilled yakitori paired with cold beer, highball or sake is what Omoide Yokocho is most known for and most of the restaurants and bars serve it and that’s what they grill along the alley, so you better try when you’re here. They also serve grilled seafood such as unagi (eel) which restaurant Kabuto is known for, as well as motsu (innards) such as pig or cow intestines if you’re into it, aside from the usual ramen, oden, and sushi which are offered by some restaurants in the alley.

Omoide Yokocho_Grilling yakitori at Piss Alley

There are over 60 bar and restaurants to choose from which you can explore in advance via Omoide Yokocho’s own English website (yes, for a tiny alley they have their own English website). Some restaurants you can make a reservation for but most do not accept reservations so better plan ahead. Also as with most of Japan, most bars and restaurants here are cash only.

Is it worth a visit?

There are a lot of yokochos or small alleyways in Tokyo, so what makes Omoide Yokocho stand out? Well, just for the post-war Showa era charm alone and the old-town way this alleyway is packed with small izakayas that’s packed with people enjoying their food and drink and the sights and sounds and smells that you get to experience here, I think Omoide Yokocho unique on its own and has it’s own unique charm that makes it stand out from other yokochos so for me it’s worth a visit.

Omoide Yokocho_Patrons enjoying a night out at Horaiya 1 izakaya in Piss Alley
Patrons enjoying a night out at Horaiya 1 which was established in 1947 and is known to serve the first motsuyaki (charcoal broiled offal) in Omoide Yokocho.

Things to do nearby

All of these are just a few minutes’ walk (5 to 10 minutes) from Omoide Yokocho: Shinjuku’s Kabukicho red light district where you can find Don Quijote’s huge Shinjuku store as well as Kabukicho Tower and the rooftop Godzilla statue, Golden Gai (it’s like the Omoide Yokocho of bars), and JR Shinjuku Station.

Do you have any questions or tips to share about Omoide Yokocho’s iconic alleyway? Feel free to comment down below and I’ll get back to you the soonest! 🙂

Have any questions, or tips to share? Feel free to comment down below! 🙂

Related Posts

Leave the first comment

Upcoming Events in Tokyo

Craft Gyoza Fes 2024 Tokyo
¥100 Shopping clothes deals