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For about 17 hours a day, urban Japan’s public transportation system seems like the greatest thing in the world. Clean, punctual, well-mannered, and convenient, it’s the perfect way to get around major cities like Tokyo and Yokohama.

But sometime after midnight, the trains, subways, and busses all stop running. Sure, you could always hop a taxi home, but cabs in Japan charge a special surcharge late at night. So unless you feel like shelling out the 5,000 to 10,000 yen (US $50-$100) for a ride to the suburbs, you’re either spending the night in a capsule hotel or hanging around somewhere until the trains start up again around 5 a.m..

The almost complete absence of street crime in Japan means you’re unlikely to get hassled or mugged, even in the seedier parts of town. You will, however, eventually get hungry. Thankfully, when you do, these awesome late-night eateries are ready to serve you.

Should you ever find yourself with a craving for ramen in Japan, head to the red light district. Without fail, you’ll find restaurants dishing out the tasty noodles to groups of salarymen, either gearing up for or coming down from a visit to the local hostess bars.

Yokohama’s biggest vice centers are the Hinodecho and Kannai districts, and in the area where the two overlap you’ll find the ramen restaurant Ishigoya.

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Ishigoya never opens before midnight, although the official opening time is officially listed as “when the owner feels like it.” There’s also only a three-hour window of opportunity to dine there, as the last chance to order food is 3 a.m. Oh, and don’t bother coming on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Ishigoya isn’t open then.

The restaurant also has signs saying it’s “member only.” However, first-timers are more than welcome at Ishigoya. The members-only system is just a pretext for the management to turn away any would-be customers they deem too drunk, which makes us wonder just how trashed you have to be to get cut off not just from more booze, but even food.

So remember, if you want to try Ishigoya’s chicken broth ramen, go easy on the red bull and vodkas beforehand.

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Moving from Yokohama to Tokyo, we come to another den of decadent sin, the portion of Shinjuku known as Kabukicho. Kabukicho’s name comes from the proposal made decades ago to build a new kabuki theatre there. That plan fell through, and instead, the area is now filled with love hotels, massage parlors, and host and hostess bars catering to every fetish imaginable.

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One of the newest places to grab a late-night bite in Kabukicho is Michael Soup and Sandwich. Although it opens at 5 p.m., making it an option for a sensibly-timed dinner, the restaurant keeps serving food until 3 a.m. you can also get your sandwich to go, which as one Internet commentator pointed out, makes Michael perfect for people finishing up a bender who need to get home and collapse as soon as possible, but want to have something to munch on when (if) they do wake up.

▼ If it’s 3 a.m. and you’re still awake weighing the pros and cons of buying a sandwich, just go ahead and do it. We guarantee you’re not going to be in any condition to cook breakfast when you wake up.

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Of course, strip bars and soaplands aren’t the only places where people get carried away and forget about the last train. West of Shinjuku you’ll find Nakano, the lesser-known little brother of Tokyo’s manga and anime mecca, Akihabara. Despite its lower level of fame, Nakano is still filled with comic and video game emporiums. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in searching the shelves for that elusive out-of-print manga you need to complete your collection, and should you miss the last train as a result, you can always head to Gamushara for a bite to eat.

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Confusingly, the sign above the door to this ramen restaurant reads Muteppo, which is actually the name it operates under during the day. From 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., though, it transforms into Gamushara, with a different menu filled with pork broth ramen to which garlic or fish extract are added. There’re even rumors of a super exclusive version called the “red pork broth ramen,“ available only in limited quantities on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Finally, if you’re eating dinner after midnight, it only makes sense that your dessert should be similarly timed. And if you’re cruising for sweets past the witching hour, you’re obviously not concerned about the calories. In that case, why not go whole hog and treat yourself to a donut? And not just any donut, but one straight from the oven.

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Donut Plant is a bakery that started out in New York before expanding to Japan. The chain has locations scattered around Tokyo, but only at the Donut Plant Central Kitchen in Kichijoji can you get your fix in the middle of the night, and delicious they are too.

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The shop opens at midnight, and cooks up two batches of donuts in flavors such as organic sugar, vanilla bean, and Verona chocolate. The first set comes out of the oven as the doors open at midnight, and the second is ready for customers around 4 a.m. The Central Kitchen is officially open until 6 a.m., but once the donuts are gone, they’re gone, so come early if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth.

And don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone if you decide to pick up a second donut for breakfast (or a third for lunch, for that matter).

Restaurant information

1. Ishigoya / 石小屋
Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Naka-ku, Fukutomi-cho, Nishidoori 5-7
神奈川県横浜市中区福富町西通5-7
Open midnight-3 a.m., Thursday-Saturday
Telephone: 045-252-8080
Closest station: JR Kannai

2. Michael Soup and Sandwich
Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 2-27-12 Lee 2 Building
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町2-27-12 Lee2ビル
Open 5 p.m.–3 a.m.
Telephone: 03-6228-0409
Closest station: JR Shinjuku

3. Gamushara / がむしゃら
Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku, Ekoda 4-5-1
東京都中野区江古田4-5-1
Open 1 a.m.-4 a.m.
Telephone: 03-5380-6886
Closest station: Seibu Numabukuro

4. Donuts Plant Central Kitchen
Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Higashi-cho 2-18-16
東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺東町2-18-16
Open: Midnight-6 a.m.
Closest station: JR Kichijoji

Source: Naver Matome
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