Bars in ShinjukuFood & Drink
When most people think of Tokyo, they’re usually thinking of Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Harajuku. Each of these places has something special that it excels in, and Shinjuku is known throughout the world for its nightlife. There are plenty of regular bars almost everywhere in Japan, so it takes something really special for a bar to stand out from the crowd. Unique bars often attract a unique set of regulars, so going to certain bars can give guests a glimpse into a lively and interesting subculture.
8bit Cafe is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for people who remember growing up with console games from Nintendo. The centerpiece of this bar is the gigantic, playable GameBoy, which was actually made by one of the bar’s regular customers. There are consoles with various old-school games you can play and a museum area where you can see the bar’s collection of
vintage gaming memorabilia. There is a 500-yen cover charge, and customers need to order a minimum of one drink every 90 minutes.
In the heart of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai area, Bar Albatross is a great place to head for dates or a few drinks with friends. Its dimly lit interior gives it the glow of a bar you’d see in a movie. There are two floors, and you have to order through a hole in the floor if you sit upstairs. There’s also roof seating, where you can look out at the city. The bar has a good selection of Japanese liquor and cocktails, but the atmosphere is why you come here. Most bars in the area will have a seating charge, and Bar Albatross is no exception, but at 300 yen, it’s quite affordable.
Girls Club, or “Onnanoko,” is another bar in Shinjuku’s gay district where you can take a walk on the wild side. Unlike Hige Girl, this bar doesn’t have flashy shows; it’s just a place where Tokyo’s closeted men can let their hair down. The owner says most of the bar’s guests are regular office workers who come to be themselves.
There’s a cover charge of 3,000 yen for men and 2,000 yen for women, and it grants customers access to a closet of dresses and wigs they can use as they like. If you have a hard time doing your own makeup, you can hire one of the staff to do it for you for 4,000 yen.
Often referred to as a “drag queen” or “ladyboy” bar, Hige Girl presents live shows and gives guests a chance to talk to the girls working there. There are two shows a night, at 7pm and 10pm. The cover charge is quite expensive, at 6,150 yen for 90 minutes, and there’s a table charge of 2,460 yen, so if you go, make sure you get to see one of the shows. The club requests that visitors come only if they have a Japanese speaker with them because it can be difficult to communicate otherwise.
Top image: Bars in Shinjuku