I really wanted to visit Golden Gai when I went to Japan last year, as I hadn’t explored much of Shinjuku when I visited in 2014. As it turns out, the bf had been to Golden Gai before, including a famous ramen shop where the restaurant staff have to speak down to the waiting line through a pipe from upstairs (Ramen Nagi, which also now has chain stores elsewhere).
I found the area to be very quiet, with maybe one or two people at best in the bars that could be seen into from outside. There were also a few that were behind closed doors, and I didn’t see much on the second floors of the buildings. Instead, I took a few photos of the interesting storefronts I saw.
Perhaps this was one of the areas that is just overhyped by travellers and travel websites, and have declined in local popularity due to high tourist flow. I found it extremely underwhelming and frankly, not interesting at all.
Tourist trap? Well, at least nobody tried to sell me touristy goods there.