Kichijoji offers a refreshing break from the chaos of Tokyo. Though located in the western suburbs, it has repeatedly stated as a highly recommended place to live as the area marries trendy shopping areas, markets, entertainment hubs, notable parks, and museums. It is also a playground for artists, with every craft and artists’ hubs scattered around the area. In addition, the area is often frequented by salarymen, office ladies, and laborers to unwind and celebrate since Kichijoji offers a variety of food stops to suit everyone’s taste.
Let’s dig in and discover why Kichijoji is touted as one of the most desirable places to live in Tokyo!
In Kichijoji lies one of the most renowned places to go hanami (flower-viewing) areas, the century-old Inokashira Park. The sakura lined river radiates in pink during sakura blooming season, wherein people gather to either paddle their way using swan-shaped boats or nestle below the trees and enjoy the calming sight of trees, whose shade varies from pink, to red to gold, or a lush green depending on the season. The park also offers other ecological sites such as an aquatic park and a zoo. The park is also a host to painters for inspiration and several festivals are held here including Kichijoji Music Festival and Kichijoji Anime Wonderland. Aside from the park, pond, and zoo, a stone throw away from the within the park lies the Benten Shrine and the Ochanomizu spring.
When it comes to popular food joints, Kichijoji is synonymous with Harmonica Yokocho, which was once a section of a flea market. Now, it has become an alley famous for its quaint groceries and clothing boutiques, izakayas, and pubs at affordable price points. What’s more, while most yokochos are open at nighttime, Harmonica Yokocho is lively even during daytime. The area houses several specialty shops serving Japan favorites and street foods. Also, some restaurants offer Japanese-style comfort food buffet style as cheap as ¥1,200. And who wouldn’t be attracted to indulge when you see your orders cooked in front of you?
At night, the whole scene at Harmonica Yokocho changes as lit red lanterns illuminate the alley and the laughter of diners and drinkers. Unlike other yokochos, Harmonica Alley’s restaurants usually serve grilled fish on their menu. No visit to Harmonica Alley would be complete without trying their signature drink “Harmonica High”, a whiskey-based drink.
Aside from Harmonica Alley, manga cafés are a popular hangout and Kichijoji has its own share with Popeye Media Café, Zenon, and Gran Bagus Cyber Café. These manga cafés offer private booths, manga libraries and serve food and drinks.
There are other notable restaurants and cafés in Kichijoji. Have your share of meat at Steak House Satou and sink your teeth at the resto’s famed menchi katsu or wagyu beef steak. Another restaurant that where you can have delectable wagyu steak and other Japanese traditional dishes is at Hechican. On their menu is the must-try Japanese Black Wagyu Ichibo Rump Steak for ¥2,900. Nearby, at the 80-year-old yakitori place Iseya Sohonten, you can treat yourself with their signature grilled chicken at ¥80 per skewer. Its three branches in Kichijoji is always jam-packed, a sure sign that it has indeed gained a fame among Japanese. Sink your teeth and go super cheesy with some cheese tarts made from the Cheese Craft Works. Enjoy a spooky meal at Yurei, which features a Halloween-inspired izakaya complete with dark lit rooms, frightening named dishes, wait staff in creepy costumes and frightening stories to achieve the all-so-eerie vibe.
Meanwhile, for those who like to sample local craft beer can head on to the Craft Beer Market. Adding to the fun factory is its ever-changing beer menu, which is best paired with their food offerings.
Kichijoji, a sought-after residential area, has indeed won the hearts (and taste buds) of locals, tourists, artists or anyone who just want to enjoy Japan in a more relaxed and yet still stylish venue. An addition to your must-visit list when visiting Tokyo. ‘Til our next foodventure!
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.