For an area full of vistors to Japan, I’m surprised there is so little information about Golden Gai (新宿ゴールデン街) on the Internet, and nothing written by a local so, here we go!
Golden Gai is a collection of 200 bars that is a great light life area which offers a glimpse into what Shinjuku looked like right after WWII. If I recall, it was the black market district turned artsy district in the 70s and now night life area.
The bars in Golden Gai seat about 10 people, although there are a few (Albatross and Brian Bar) that can accommodate larger groups (20 or so). The best part of the smaller seating arrangement is that it is easy to strike up a conversation with anyone around you.
I usually go to Golden Gai because I enjoy hearing about Japan from people that are visiting. I enjoy seeing and hearing about everyone’s adventures that they have planned. I can say I’ve never had a bad night in Golden Gai.
So if someone in Golden Gai strikes up a conversation, don’t be concerned. It usually a fellow traveler wanting to share stories or a local wanting to speak in English.