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Spyder Munkee

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Jun 18, 2012
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Shinjuku – Shoben Yokocho (Pee Alley)

In 2005 I stumbled upon a wonderful little row of ramshackle bars and restaurants called “Pee Ally” by the locals.

Some of the bars are almost open air, no heat in the winter and no air-con in the summer. Most looked like they were hastily constructed with scrap lumber and none of the bars had restrooms, hence the nickname Pee Alley. Actually there was a very dirty WC located in the middle of the alley that all the bars shared.

Despite that unflattering description I had a good time there and I love finding little places like this.
I think I was the only gaijin in the place and I met a lot of friendly Japanese. The customers appeared to be from all walks of life. I remember meeting a chemical engineer, a JR worker, and some university students. There appeared to be all sorts of people in the bars drawn there for cheap beer I guess.

There were some great street food available also; I remember snacking on chicken hearts and gizzards. Tasty!
This place might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I had a great time there. It was unusual in many ways, much more like the kind of places you used to find in Seoul.

It was definitely off the beaten track!

I'm going back to Tokyo soon and would love to find this place again.

I did some Google searches and found the following:

"Omoide Yokocho(recollections alley)" in the Shinjuku west entrance is called "Shoben Yokocho (pee alley)."
"Omoide Yokocho" was born after World War II as a market where a stall stands in a row around the Shinjuku station. Since a public lavatory was not installed in the market, it is said that it became the cause called "Shoben yokocho(pee alley)." (The public lavatory is installed now.)

Although the "Omoide Yokocho" was lost by incendiarism in 1999, it revives now and became the rows of houses which were alike before disappearing.

Does anyone know if the place is still there or know of any other quirky water holes to explore?