Although these days it’s considered a bohemian youth mecca, Kichijoji is a suburb rich with history. Home to a Buddhist temple, a number of Shinto shrines, there’s plenty to explore for the history buff here in the trendy pocket of Tokyo.
The most iconic of all the sacred sites is the Inokashira Benzaiten, also known as the Taiseiji-Temple. It’s said to have been established by Minamoto-no-Tsunemoto, the patriarch of Kanto during the Tenkei Era (938-946). The temple features the enshrined Benzaiten Statue. Benzaiten was a Japanese Buddhist goddess, who represents everything that ‘flows’ from water to time, words, speech, eloquence, and even music, which is the perfect embodiment of the rhythm of Kichijoji even today.
The area is serviced by the very central and constantly buzzing Kichijoji station. Operated by the famous East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and the private railway operator Keio Corporation, there are a number of rapid and local trains that connect the area to wider Tokyo.
From central Tokyo, hubs like Shinjuku catch the Chūō-Sōbu Line direct to Kichijoji, the trip takes on average 15 minutes and costs 220 yen ($2 USD) each way. If you’re coming from Shibuya, the best way to get to the area is via the Keio Line, which takes about 17 minutes and costs 200 yen ($1.80 USD) each way. Once you get to the station the network of paths and shopping strips make it easy to explore by foot.
The area’s diverse selection of high quality restaurants and fashionable cafes are just one of the reasons why this area has become one of Tokyo’s most desirable suburbs, so it’s a crime not to immerse yourself in the wonderful culinary and café culture of Kichijoji.
For coffee and lunch check out the unique Hammock Café, where as the name suggests, you can relax in a hammock while you enjoy your meal. Thanks to its trendy interior and cool clientele it has been the backdrop for a number of Japanese TV programs over the past few years, so who knows, if you’re lucky you might be a featured extra in the hottest new Japanese drama. There are variations of this café style in other areas of Tokyo, like Akiba, however Kichijoji is the original and arguably the best.
2-8-1 Kichijōji-Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo, Japan, +81 4 2242 5930
Like its trendy neighbours Shimokitzawa and Koenji, shopping in Kichijoji is all about vintage styles and unique finds. Spend some time exploring Nakamichi-dori, the commercial heart of the area. Here you’ll find a community of quirky stores selling everything from the fanciest designer goods to the most bizarre Japanese knick-knacks.
Markus (マルクス) is one store you can’t bypass when trekking through the area. Filled with an impressive selection of meticulously crafted Japanese home wares and other goods, everything in Markus is handpicked by the store’s owner who travels throughout the countryside of Japan to meet with local craftspeople to learn everything there is to know about their products.
Hidden on the second floor of a rather unassuming building across the from the towering Tokyu department tore sits Hyakunen, a book lovers paradise. Featuring limited run editions, secondhand books, independently published works and zines that cover a variety of topics, it’s impossible not to lose yourself in this literary labyrinth. If you plan on visiting, check the Hyakunen website, as the store also hosts regular Q&A sessions and exhibits that delve deep into the Kichijoji creative scene.
It’s impossible not to talk about Kichijoji without mentioning the suburb’s incredible Inokashira Park. Sprawled across approximately 400,000 square meters, it’s one of Tokyo’s most stunning public parks. Centred around the beautiful Inokashira Pond, 2017 saw the park celebrate its 100th anniversary.
It’s also home to the famous Ghibli Museum, one of the city’s most famous tourist destinations. Grab one of the many paddleboats that are freely available to rent and spend some time cruising around the pond to explore this incredible suburb from a different perspective.
1 Chome-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino, Tokyo 180-0005, Japan, +81 4 2247 6900