Under the watchful eye of NTT Docomo Yoyogi Tower (Tokyo’s Empire State Building-reminiscent landmark), an east-meets-east coast neighborhood sprawls out just a few steps from Yoyogi Station’s east exit. Previously known as the quiet side of the station, this former residential area has blossomed into Yoyogi Broadway: a smattering of buildings fusing nostalgic Japan exteriors with New York energy to create a hub of art, music and gastronomy in one convenient location.
Yoyogi Broadway’s first point of entry is its flagship venue, Broadway Diner and its neighboring snapshot-worthy open space, Broadway Square. The diner was revamped in April, creating a contemporary movie theater-themed hangout. Events are held frequently and range from illustrator exhibitions and film director talks to jazz concerts. If you prefer singing yourself, head up to Nuts Record on the second floor of the building for a velvet-encased karaoke bar experience.
Broadway Square — complete with its own Statue of Liberty — has graffiti walls depicting New York’s signature subway trains, making it the perfect place for a pit stop before heading deeper into the area.
To the left of Broadway Diner, the Daichi Silver Building hides some intriguing venues, including Gallery10, a compact art space that’s free to enter — providing you can find it. In the style of the au courant speakeasy revival, the hidden entrance may take some critical thinking to find. Once inside, you’ll find a fresh exhibition venue for up-and-coming artists looking to sell their unique pieces. In the same location, don’t miss Agaveria, a bar devoted to agave-based spirits such as tequila, mezcal, sotol and more. It’s a great place to stop by after visiting Yoshikawa, the yakitori joint downstairs.
On the building’s opposite side is Sushi no Darihan, which serves up high quality sushi for an astonishingly good price. Ask the charismatic manager for his recommendations and he may set you up with maguro darake, a platter of tuna in almost every form imaginable. Reservations are recommended because it fills up fast. Next door to Sushi no Darihan, you can grab some typical British pub fare at Hedgehog and some seasonal delicacies at Kitan.
Climbing the steps from Broadway Square, you’ll find two buildings that mark the start of Hobo Shinjuku Norengai, which loosely translates to “basically Shinjuku restaurant district.” It’s a fitting name, as it’s only a 7-minute walk from Shinjuku Station’s south exit. To the right, a new addition houses two restaurants: Sankaku, a kushiage and nikomi eatery with hearty stews and an array of deep-fried food on sticks, and Kogeo, serving Tokyo monjayaki.
To the left, the Hobo Shinjuku Norengai Sokobekkan warehouse annex unveils a reimagined retro yokocho, complete with neon signs and vintage posters. Traditionalists may be drawn to Fuji no Uma (horsemeat), New Star (typical izakaya fare) and Sushinjuku (sushi and sashimi), while those seeking a broader variety may head to Umidori (tuna and chicken), Yakigakiya (oysters and wine), Iroha (pork, whiskey and wine) or Hongdaeponcha (Korean food).
New Kids on the Block
Squeeze through Hobo Shinjuku Norengai Sokobekkan’s backdoor to access a neighborhood of 10 traditional Japanese-style houses (Hobo Shinjuku Norengai Honkan) that have been converted into restaurants and bars. Here too, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Start your gourmet journey with champagne and gyoza at cozy-yet-swanky Awadsutsumi, or dine on beef tongue at Iroha Bettei’s intimate counter-side seating. If exotic pizza toppings are more your speed, make your way to Spanish Italian Azzurro520.
Other delectable options include the charming two-storey Ufuku (grilled eel and chicken), Aroi Kyodai (Thai and Singaporean food), New Kitchen Iroha (pizza and pasta) and Karin (wine, whiskey and izakaya fare). Skirting the outer edge of the block, you’ll find the vibrant lanterns of Motsuyaki Captain (grilled meat skewers), Kaifornia (seafood) and Shinkei (yakitori and other chicken dishes) adding a warm glow to the night.
Note that the surrounding area remains residential, so turn the raucous revelry down a notch as the witching hour approaches.
See what else there is to do at Yoyogi Broadway.