Kichijoji is widely known as one of the best places to live in Tokyo, but many don’t know of its local reputation for eclectic little bars and gastropubs. Some are so off-the-grid that even Google Maps doesn’t know of their existence! Most of these tiny bars are located in Harmonica Yokocho (or Harmonica Alley), which started as a flea market after World War II. Now, Kichijoji and Harmonica Yokocho are home to 1950s themed pubs, record-scratching bartenders, horse meat cuisine, and even a bar where the staff drink with you! Bar hopping in Harmonica Yokocho is for sure the best way to explore the winding maze of historic pubs and eateries in Kichijoji.
Each Harmonica Yokocho bar only seats a few people, with some of the smallest seating only seven. No sooner will you have sat down and ordered a drink than you’ll be drawn into the exuberant atmosphere, conversing with talkative locals. Whether or not you speak Japanese, Harmonica Yokocho is the perfect place to strike up a conversation with your neighbors at the bar counter, because even if you don’t know Japanese, our bar hopping tour guide is happy to interpret. Soon, you’ll be cracking jokes and saying “kampai!” like a local.
The trilingual tour guide is something of a local celebrity; every few minutes, somebody recognizes him and calls out his name or claps him on the back. Having lived in Kichijoji for the past couple of years and gotten to know the owners and bartenders of some of the most eccentric and friendly bars in Tokyo, he’s the perfect tour guide to take you bar hopping in Tokyo’s most livable neighborhood, Kichijoji.
Highlights of Bar Hopping in Harmonica Yokocho:
- A four-hour bar hopping tour of Kichijoji and Harmonica Yokocho.
- Insight into Japanese drinking culture and etiquette tips from an expert.
- Delicious Japanese cocktails, like oolong-shu, whisky highballs, and plum wine.
- Chatting and clinking glasses with locals and fellow travelers!
- The first two rounds of drinks! (Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages like Japanese cocktails and soft drinks are available.)
- Insights from a knowledgable trilingual (English, Japanese, Spanish) guide who calls Kichijoji home.
- Insider info about the local Tokyo nightlife scene and bar hopping in Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho.
- Dinner (food is optional). Each person must pay for themselves, with tabehoudai all-you-can-eat available for around 2500-3000 yen.
- Transportation cost to and from the event location.
Harmonica Yokocho (Harmonica Alley) in Kichijoji: Yokocho are old-fashioned alleyways crammed with little eateries and pubs, a dying breed in Japan. While many yokocho are losing business to large chain izakayas, Harmonica Yokocho is one of the few still left standing. Harmonica Yokocho began as a flea market during the years immediately following the second World War, and still has post-1945 Showa-era vibes, creative cuisines, and fantastic drinks. This little stretch of crisscrossing alleyways is home to traditional sweet shops and clothing stores by day, and by night, mini gastropubs which are bathed by the red glow of lanterns. Many of the patrons of these bars are loyal regulars, stopping by for a drink and a chat with their favorite barkeep. Yokocho, particularly Harmonica Yokocho in Kichijoji, are certainly worth a visit for a taste of the old post-war Japan and for the truly authentic local atmosphere.
Meeting Location and Meeting Time:
The meeting point is the Park Exit of Kichijoji Station, which is accessible by the JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Chuo Line, and Keio-Inokashira Line. The station is just 14 minutes from Shinjuku, 23 minutes from Shibuya, and 26 minutes from Tokyo Station.
The meeting time is 7:30 p.m. and the bar hopping experience ends approximately four hours later.
- The minimum drinking age is 20 years in Japan, so this bar hopping tour is only available for those who are 20 years of age or older.
- Maximum of five guests, as the bars are quite small and cannot accommodate large groups.
- This tour is available in English, Spanish, and Japanese.
- Not wheelchair or stroller-accessible.
- If the experience is canceled due to bad weather, it will either be rescheduled or participants will receive a full refund.
- The food tour starts strictly on time. The tour will start even if guests arrive at or after the departure time, and no refund shall be given. This is to guarantee that there is enough time, so everyone can enjoy each stop. Please be respectful of the other guests, our restaurant partners, and the tour guide’s time, to ensure a safe and fun bar hopping experience.