Making most of small spaces in Tokyo’s Golden Gai

TOKYO (AP) — It’s no secret Tokyoites are masters of making the most of space.

Take the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district: Tucked between the Kabukicho entertainment district and Hanazono Shrine, nearly 280 restaurants are squeezed into an area about the size of half a football field.

The Golden Gai is a sliver of old Tokyo in a modern metropolis filled with endless gleaming buildings. It’s a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction, for sure. But it’s also a place for snacks and friendly chatter among exhausted workers known as”salarymen”.

Everything is smaller and narrower in this warren of shacks. Most eateries seat seven or eight with little room to move. Some foreigners jokingly pose for photos that exaggerate their struggles with small doors and narrow staircases.

That didn’t stop six-foot-seven Alaina Traxler, of Portland, Oregon, from enjoying his first visit. Traxler loved its coziness and intimacy.

“I was folded up in there. I’m literally taller than the room is,” Traxler said. “Absolutely worth squeezing in.”

ABOVE & BELOW: A man strolls through a narrow alleyway clustered with tiny restaurants at the Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo; and people walk through narrow alleyways at the Golden Gai. – PHOTOS: AP