How Much to Buy 5.2sqm Bar in Golden Gai Shinjuku? 1Mil USD?

How Much to Buy 5.2sqm Bar in Golden Gai Shinjuku? 1Mil USD?

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Ever heard of Kabuki? Yes, it is a Japanese traditional musical play.


But how about Kabuki-cho?


It is in Shinjuku, Tokyo and is one of the must visit places if you travelling to Japan.


Following World War II, a reconstruction plan was devised by Hideaki Ishikawa an city planning expert, Kihei Suzuki, a city community leader, and others to construct a kabuki theater near the present-day Kabukicho Ichiban-gai.


The vision was to centralize entertainment facilities around this theater and establish the healthiest family center in Shinjuku's New Tokyo. Ultimately, the project was named Kabukicho, following a proposal by project leader Eiyo Ishikawa within this urban development plan. However, due to financial constraints and other factors (we have been very curious about the reasons but not many books are not clear on these reasons), this ambitious plan never materialized fully, with only the construction of Shinjuku Koma Theater being realized. The name "Kabuki" has stayed but there is no really kabuki theatre.


In this Kabukicho, there is an area called Golden gai. This area could be one of the most iconic areas in the travel book about Tokyo. If you watch a drama series called Mid Night Diner Tokyo story (深夜食堂), the setting seems to be in Golden gai street. (Well, many try to find the izakaya bar in Golden gai but you do not find it because it was a filming set. For the drama shooting, the Golden gai set was built in a school sport gymnastic hall in Saitama. You can see the photos of these sets from this report by Gagdetnews in 2016.)


The bars in Golden gai are very small. One bar is like 2sqm or so. We wondered how much to buy one bar there and were thinking somewhere around 80K USD for one. We may have been right in the past but are so wrong in 2024 the time of inflation and the world uncertainty.


"An old, dilapidated two-story building, standing for 73 years, has become the talk of the neighborhood as a stack of cash" says a well-known bar owner, shedding light on the latest news in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.


Spanning approximately 6000 square meters, Tokyo's Shinjuku Golden Gai boasts nearly 300 bars and snack joints, nestled within a cluster of barracks-style shops. Across the narrow alleyways, these wooden storefronts stand between Hanazono Shrine to the west and the TEPCO facility to the south, with thriving establishments like the Teruma Bathhouse nearby. The area is sectioned off by the Hanazono Koban Street to the east and the Four Seasons Road to the west.


Noteworthy streets within this block include 'G1 Street,' 'G2 Street,' 'Akarui Hanazono 1st Street,' 'Akarui Hanazono 3rd Street,' 'Akarui Hanazono 5th Street,' 'Akarui Hanazono 8th Street,' and 'Maneki Street.' The 'G' in these names stands for 'Golden.' Originally, only G1 Street and G2 Street were referred to as Shinjuku Golden Gai, but due to its nationwide fame, the entire area is now collectively known as such.


The shops north of Akarui Hanazono 1st Street are organized under the Shinjuku Sanko Shopping Street Promotion Association(新宿三光商店街振興組合), while those to the south fall under the Shinjuku Golden Gai Shopping Street Promotion Association (新宿ゴールデン街商店街振興組合). All alleyways within these associations' areas are private roads, making unauthorized photography on public streets prohibited. However, if customers of member shops directly take snapshots or commemorative photos, no prior application is required. Commercial use of these photos, however, necessitates permission.

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Golden Gai's origins trace back to the post-Pacific War chaos, which gave rise to black markets. The area around present-day Shinjuku, previously within the Yodobashi and Yotsuya districts, was rife with such markets. East of Shinjuku Station, the Kanto Ozutsu Group's 'Shinjuku Market' thrived. Subsequently, this market transitioned into a nightlife hub centered around food stalls, becoming known as 'Ryugu Market.' Yet, by 1949, GHQ had issued an order to abolish the black market, prompting Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to mandate relocation for all establishments by the following year. Consequently, these black market shops relocated to the Sancho area of Shinjuku (currently part of Kabukicho 1-chome and some parts of Shinjuku 5-chome), later dubbed Shinjuku Golden gai.


The 1949-1958 era saw this region thrive as a 'blue light district (illegal prostitution area),' colloquially known as ' stumbling alley,' due to its vast collection of unlicensed eateries posing as brothels. While other areas in Kabukicho hosted similar establishments, this region was one of Tokyo's foremost red-light districts. However, the 1958 enactment of the Anti-Prostitution Law prompted the closure of all such establishments.


Golden gai to our generation was known as the hub for artists esp. in film, media and manga field. Many famous people from the industry were known to frequent the area such as Fujio Akatsuka, Taro Okamoto, Yusaku Matsuda, Toru Takemitsu and so forth.


The area has so many visitors from all around the world. If you have a bar or shop there, you will make quite a fortune probably. We never were aware any of the slot becoming available for purchase. But there was one recently. 


The recent sale of a minuscule 5.2 square meter plot in Golden gai for a staggering 80 million JPY, at an auction under Tokyo District Court's jurisdiction in early April, presents an unsettling reality. 


The auction's starting price was 7.75 million JPY, rendering the sale price over ten times the initial estimate. Notably, the original bidding for a separate establishment years prior settled at 12 million JPY, rendering the recent 80 million JPY sale exorbitant and unsettling, particularly for long-time locals.

If you have 1 million USD, you can buy 2 slots! If you once walked through the Golden gai, you know the place is so unique. How much is too much anyway?


Insights from Tokyo-based real estate agents attribute this unprecedented sale to Golden Gai's reputation as a tourist hotspot, attracting international visitors. To optimize profitability, establishments are revamping their atmospheres to cater to foreign clientele by discontinuing unfamiliar cover charges, while increasing alcohol prices. This shift suggests impending transformation in the Golden gai landscape.


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Source: Friday digital, Sugoi Shinjuku Kabukicho no rekishi by Toshio Higuchi, wikipedia

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Source: Irasutoya
Enjoy bars in Japan. Dont drink too much!! Source: Irasutoya

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