Things to Do in Kichijoji: From Sightseeing Staples to Fantastic Fun
The Kichijoji area of Musashino in western Tokyo - just a bit outside of the 23 wards that make up the heart of the greater Tokyo area - has a lot to offer in the way of both nature and cultural experiences. Read on for 20 of the best spots to spend a day in this neighborhood that retains a nostalgic, somewhat old-fashioned atmosphere despite being in the big city.
- What Kind of Place Is Kichijoji?
- 1. Immerse Yourself in a World of Animation at the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
- 2. Have Breakfast at Boulangerie Bistro EPEE
- 3. Delight in the Natural Scenery of Inokashira Park
- 4. See the Animals Up Close at Inokashira Park Zoo
- 5. Walk Down the Kichijoji Sunroad Shopping Street
- 6. Try the Famous Menchi Katsu at Kichijoji Daiya-gai
- 7. Pray for Good Luck with Money at Inokashira Benzaiten
- 8. Go Shopping at Atre Kichijoji
- 9. Eat a Ramen Masterpiece at Kichijoji Musashiya
- 10. Do Some More Shopping at Kirarina Keio Kichijoji
- 11. Visit the Musashino Hachimangu Shrine
- 12. Mingle with the Locals in Harmonica Alley
- 13. Explore Shikendera Temples
- 14. Appreciate Art at the Kichijoji Art Museum
- 15. Take a Break at ZENON
- 16. Take Part in the Kichijoji Autumn Festival
- 17. Stroll Beneath the Zelkova Trees at Seikei University
- 18. Indulge in Sake and Yakitori at Toriyoshi
- 19. Play with Adorable Kitties at CatCafe Temari no Ouchi
- 20. Get Some Photos of the Trains from Mitakadenshakokosen Bridge
What Kind of Place Is Kichijoji?
Kichijoji has earned a name for itself as a neighborhood that constantly appears at the top of the list of desired places to live in Tokyo. What draws many people to this area is its proximity to the natural environment such as forests and lakes despite being in the capital, thanks to Inokashira Park. It has been long beloved by many people of the arts, such as writers and manga (Japanese comic) artists, so it is always gaining support as the place of origin for new culture. The area is also scattered with Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that tell of its history. One of its charms is its tolerance for mixing old culture with new. In addition to second hand clothes stores and unique variety shops, there are also large shopping buildings near the station, making this a bustling area for young shoppers at the weekend. Kichijoji is located just under 20 minutes from Shibuya via the Inokashira line and also has great accessibility from terminal stations.
1. Immerse Yourself in a World of Animation at the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
The Ghibli Museum is a place where you can experience the fantastical world of the animations created by internationally loved Studio Ghibli. The Saturn Theater, where you can view screenings of original short films, has an atmosphere that's just like being in a forest. At the permanent exhibition called “Where a Film is Born,” which follows the production process of a film, there is a small room that will give you an idea of what Hayao Miyazaki’s work space is like, as well as plenty of displays where you can catch a glimpse of works behind the scenes such as lovely sketches and background images by museum staff. You will even encounter characters from the Ghibli films, like the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro and the robot soldier from Castle in the Sky!
*You must make a reservation prior to visiting the museum.
2. Have Breakfast at Boulangerie Bistro EPEE
Why not grab a late breakfast at this new-style fusion of bakery and bistro? The bakery is open from 9:30 am. In addition to the classics such as bread and croissants, there is a full menu of unique and delicious breads on offer. Boulangerie Bistro EPEE makes use of the adjoining bistro by incorporating ingredients not ordinarily found in a bakery for their original breads. There are also the various homemade yeast "pain de campagne," which are a match made in heaven for the cuisine.
3. Delight in the Natural Scenery of Inokashira Park
Since it opened, Inokashira Park has seen more than 100 years as one of Kichijoji’s greatest tourist attractions. The park grounds are divided into several areas, such as the vast Inokashira Pond, which stretches from east to west, and Gotenyama covered by a rich green thicket of Chonowski's hornbeam, pin oak and sawtooth oak trees. Each of these are places where you can get a full experience of the natural world. Enjoy that scenery around Inokashira Pond by bird watching, walking, or even swan boating around the pond. In spring, the area around the pond boasts over 200 blooming cherry trees, so it gets a large influx of visitors for the flower viewing season.
4. See the Animals Up Close at Inokashira Park Zoo
Inokashira Park Zoo takes up about one third of Inokashira Park, and almost 170 different species are kept here. The zoo is quite a hands-on experience, as you can see squirrels up close as they roam free on the Squirrel Trail and pet a guinea pig on your lap at the Guinea Pig Petting Zoo. In addition to domesticated animals you can also encounter wild species here at the Wildlife Encounter Field. (Wildlife Encounter Field is only open from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm on Sundays)
Entry fee: regular 400 JPY, middle school students 150 JPY, 65 & over 200 JPY
5. Walk Down the Kichijoji Sunroad Shopping Street
Kichijoji Sunroad is the main street from Kichijoji Station’s North Exit. On holidays you’ll see a lot of activity in this lively shopping street. A wide variety of stores line this street, such as drugstores offering reasonably priced cosmetics and daily necessities; variety shops selling cute accessories and small articles; specialty stores providing shoes, glasses, and so on; and greengrocers purveying local produce. There’s so many that walking around can be distracting! There are also heaps of restaurants here so it’s a great place to visit around lunch or dinnertime.
6. Try the Famous Menchi Katsu at Kichijoji Daiya-gai
Right beside Kichijoji Sunroad is Kichijoji Daiya-gai, which is divided into 3 large areas: east, west, and south. Kichijoji Daiya-gai is known for its abundant variety of popular gourmet foods. Particularly famous even in such an area is Satou, which offers domestically produced Kuroge Wagyu beef. Although there is Steakhouse Satou on 2F where you can try the steak, the butchery on 1F sells its massively popular menchi katsu (deep fried ground beef cutlet) for 240 JPY each. These gourmet delights are so famous that sometimes a line forms of people wanting to eat these piping hot menchi katsu, so be sure to go once you start feeling a bit peckish!
7. Pray for Good Luck with Money at Inokashira Benzaiten
In the vicinity of the pond inside Inokashira Park stands the impressive crimson hall of Inokashira Benzaiten. They say that the shrine dates back to approximately 938 - 946 AD. The Zeniarai Benten located behind the hall is known for giving good luck with money. If you wash some money in the water from the washing place shaped like a dragon, your fortune is supposed to increase, so definitely stop by here and make a prayer for better luck with money. Benzaiten was originally worshiped as the goddess of water. The sound of flowing water came to be associated with the sound of music, so she is thought to benefit the arts, including music and also scholarship in general.
8. Go Shopping at Atre Kichijoji
There are many places to go shopping in Kichijoji, but Atre Kichijoji which is connected directly to Kichijoji Station is one of the easiest shopping malls to visit. The collection of stores here consists of more than just apparel. There are stores for a wide variety of things, including designer stationery, Japanese textiles, and home wares. This is a highly recommended place to shop for souvenirs! There are cafes where you can take a break and even a bubble tea stand, which is all the rage at the moment. Stop by if you get tired of shopping!
9. Eat a Ramen Masterpiece at Kichijoji Musashiya
Kichijoji Musashiya is a popular ramen joint serving Yokohama-style ramen (characterized by rich pork bone soy sauce soup and thick straight noodles). The specialty of Musashiya is the tonkotsu (pork bone) shoyu (soy sauce) soup, which consists of a broth made from local pork and chicken bones obtained from another venerable Kichijoji establishment, Iseya. This broth is then blended with a special shoyu sauce which has a depth from being added to for over 10 years. This is an outstanding match for the chewy medium-thick flat noodles. You can adjust the amount of chicken fat which is the key to the flavor, strength of seasoning, and firmness of noodles according to your preference.
10. Do Some More Shopping at Kirarina Keio Kichijoji
Kirarina Keio Kichijoji is linked directly to the South Exit (Park Exit) of Kichijoji Station. This is a shopping center bustling with shoppers, particularly fashion-conscious youths. This center offers a full array of apparel stores from popular select shops such as BEAMS and JOURNAL STANDARD, to fast fashion stores such as GU that offer low-cost alternatives to high-priced designer fashions. Additionally, there are specialty stores for underwear, shoes and even hats, so you can enjoy shopping for a totally coordinated outfit.
11. Visit the Musashino Hachimangu Shrine
Musashino Hachimangu Shrine has a deep connection with the founding of the Kichijoji neighborhood. It used to be Tokyo's aqueduct, but it is said that the residents who were forced to migrate due to the Great Fire of Meireki relocated the shrine to the local deity here when Kichijoji was founded. Zelkova and camphor trees thrive inside the vast grounds of the shrine precinct. It’s quiet here to the point that you wouldn’t think it to be in the downtown area, and the atmosphere is magical. Inside the temple grounds, aside from the deity Hachiman, there are seven shrines, such as one dedicated to Inari who benefits business prosperity, and an Izumo shrine to the god of matchmaking. This is a popular place considered a “power spot” in Japan for its spiritual energy.
12. Mingle with the Locals in Harmonica Alley
In a back alley right outside the north exit of Kichijoji Station is a clamoring collection of narrow little establishments. The set-up looks just like the mouthpiece of a harmonica, and that’s why it's called Harmonica Alley. The alley has its roots in the post-war black market. By day the alley is bustling with fish shops, Japanese candy shops, florists and so on, but by night, the atmosphere completely changes with the lighting of the red lanterns. It becomes a unique world where old and new meld into one, from the izakaya (Japanese-style bar) with their old-world flavor to the new trendy bars and cafes. Enjoy mixing with the regulars, and get the full Kichijoji experience you can’t have anywhere else.
13. Explore Shikendera Temples
Near Kichijoji Temple is a gathering of four temples, Anyo-ji, Kosen-ji, Renjo-ji, and Gesso-ji, known collectively as Shikendera. Each of the temples was transferred or established alongside the formation of Kichijoji, and so the temples have a history as old as the town itself. Gesso-ji Temple faces onto the Kichijoji Sunroad Shopping Street. The majestic gate that suddenly appears while you’re walking down the shopping street has a massive impact. The four temples are located within walking distance from each other, so why not make a pilgrimage out of it as you walk?
14. Appreciate Art at the Kichijoji Art Museum
The Kichijoji Art museum was opened in 2002. The collection at this art museum consists of over 2,500 pieces, including many different art styles, such as woodblock prints, Japanese-style paintings, oil paintings and calligraphy. There are rooms commemorating Hideo Hagiwara, known worldwide as a woodblock artist, and Yozo Hamaguchi who created a new style of mezzotint. Both artists’ works and materials are part of the permanent exhibit. Aside from that the facility also has a diverse range of special exhibits. The museum is located inside the commercial building Coppice Kichijoji, so when you’re shopping here take the opportunity to come for a casual browse.
Entry fee: permanent exhibit 100 JPY, special exhibits (adults) 300 JPY, special exhibits (students) 100 JPY
15. Take a Break at ZENON
Kichijoji has been home to many manga artists. ZENON in Kichijoji is a cafe overflowing with imagination that perfectly captures the essence of manga in its interior design. There are many little tricks that you can enjoy as a new form of art based on manga, such as full size panel silhouettes of famous manga such as Cat's Eye which are drawn on the ceiling and pillars, etc., and the pattern on the floor which is created using cut outs of from the panel layout and speech bubbles from that famous scene in Fist of the North Star. The espresso machine here is a rare type that's hard to find in Japan, and it makes a superb latte. The barista’s latte art, of which they will never do the same design twice, is also a must-see!
16. Take Part in the Kichijoji Autumn Festival
At the Kichijoji Autumn festival, which has been held every autumn since 1973, the mikoshi (hand-carried divine palanquins which the shrine deity rides during festivals) of the Musashino Hachimangu Shrine and other local shrines are paraded around the Kichijoji neighborhood. The lively shouts of the bearers and experiencing the beautifully crafted traditional mikoshi up close are some of the biggest attractions of this festival. On the day of the festival, temple festivals and night stalls are also put on and the neighborhood gets very lively, so you can experience this brilliant extraordinary world.
17. Stroll Beneath the Zelkova Trees at Seikei University
For a shady spot to take a walk, we recommend the Zelkova tree-lined avenue at Seikei University. In 1924, the university was moved to Kichijoji from Ikebukuro, and with it, 100+ of these Zelkova trees were also transplanted. These amazing Zelkova trees that exceed 80 years of age, are considered natural monuments by the City of Musashino and have even been chosen as one of the top 100 views of new Tokyo. If you walk under the Zelkova trees that grow rampantly in front of the main building and outer roads, you can feel the academic mood unique to universities and at the same time feel an invigorating pleasantness as you stretch out your body.
18. Indulge in Sake and Yakitori at Toriyoshi
Toriyoshi is a restaurant that specializes in chicken dishes, where you can savor delicious yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and famous deep-fried chicken wings. There are two establishments in Kichijoji, but the one at the Inokashira Park entrance is especially attractive for its green surroundings and the traditional Japanese vibes of the building. Here you can enjoy your yakitori with sake from their diverse collection of sake brands, including an extensive selection of junmai sake (sake which has been brewed without added alcohol or sugar) which ranges from sweet to dry.
19. Play with Adorable Kitties at CatCafe Temari no Ouchi
This cat cafe is a fairy tale-like space that will make you feel as though you’re lost in a forest, where you can play with cats while enjoying some tea or a meal. Pass the time however you like with the cats. Play with them as they roam around freely or give them their favorite snack, chicken tenders. There are many different breeds of cat, such as American shorthair and munchkin, so have fun looking for your favorite one! The cats gathering for mealtime between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm is a must-see!
Entry fee: weekdays 1,200 JPY (excl. tax), Saturday / Sunday / national holidays 1,600 JPY (excl. tax), night (from 7:00 pm) 900 JPY (excl. tax)
20. Get Some Photos of the Trains from Mitakadenshakokosen Bridge
Mitakadenshakokosen Bridge is somewhere you should make the effort to go just a little way away from Kichijoji. The bare steel frame land bridge that was constructed in 1929 is a historical bridge that they say even the great literary master Dazai Osamu visited often. More than anything, the charm comes from the view from the bridge. The bridge passes over the train lines so you can see rows of train carriages and express trains as they pass under the bridge. This is a really great spot for getting photos. You’ll want to take some even if you’re not a fan of trains.
Stroll through the streets that have everything from quirky cafes and shopping streets with deep local ties to historical shrines and temples. Please enjoy the many charms of Kichijoji.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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