Roughly translated from Japanese, Omoide Yokocho means “Memory Lane,” as in “a nostalgic place.” The tiny, packed alleyway has another, more crude nickname used by the locals that suggests that there were not enough public restrooms here. But whether you choose to think of Omoide Yokocho as “memory lane” or a place where drunken patrons may have relieved themselves at some point, the alley today is home to an incredible variety of fast-served food designed to be washed down with inexpensive beer and sake.
Elliot visited Omoide Yokocho in March 2020. “I was there just before COVID shut everything down. I was able to do some final sightseeing and check out some of the now-empty areas I had previously been unable to enjoy.
“The alley is really amazing. While it looks dark, there’s lots of light coming from different sources—the subway station at the end, the lanterns, big TV screens, arcades, shops and signs. It’s like daytime all the time. And there are these fake cherry blossoms hanging from the shop fronts. They change the fake plants out seasonally. In fall there are red leaves for autumn. It’s like a real-life Blade Runner scene. Very real on the one hand and very artificial on the other.”