Starting out as an illegal drinking quarter in the late 1940s, this narrow side street quickly became a prime spot for cheap drinks, yakitori and cabaret-style hostess bars. Due to the lack of restroom facilities, patrons would wander off and relieve themselves on the nearby train tracks; it didn’t take long for Piss Alley to earn its name.
In those days, the area provided a social space for local residents who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford such luxuries as meat and alcohol in an impoverished, post-war economy.
The atmosphere remained largely unchanged until 1999 when a fire destroyed most of the restaurants and shops in the alley. Fortunately, the local government decided to rebuild the area exactly as it had been, preserving the ‘old Japan’ vibe that had come to be so cherished. To this day, a visit to Piss Alley feels like stepping back into the Shōwa era.