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Shinjuku Station, 3丁目-38 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to

3-chōme-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tōkyō-to 160-0022, Japan
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Tokyo Eats at Street Level Shinjuku City  Japan

Tokyo Eats at Street Level

I had one free night in Tokyo—only one chance to connect with a Japanese acquaintance from a dive trip on Midway Atoll 10 years earlier. Our mutual friend, Shintaido master Haruyoshi Fugaku Ito, suggested we meet at the Shinjuku rail station and walk around the corner to Fukuhachi ("Happy Eight") in the district's legendary yakitori alley ("Omoide Yokocho," which apparently translates as something less savory).

Operated for decades by Ito's old friends Kazuko and Hatsumi Muraoka, Fukuhachi is a classic, serving grilled skewers of various meats, organs, and vegetables to mostly locals. Because of the connection through friendship, we were able to slip down a sub-alley and enter through the rear, squeeze ourselves into the back corner, and eat round after round of yakitori, washed down with lots of cold beer, and lots of laughs—a world apart from the supermodern high-rise glitz of the neighborhood beyond the alley.