Koenji is a lively and bohemian neighborhood located in western Tokyo, known for its vibrant arts and music scene, vintage shops, and local eateries. The area is often compared to the trendy neighborhoods of Shimokitazawa and Harajuku, but with a more laid-back and authentic atmosphere.
One of the main attractions in Koenji is its numerous secondhand clothing stores, which sell a wide variety of vintage and retro fashion items, as well as unique accessories and vinyl records. The narrow streets are also home to small galleries, independent bookstores, and live music venues, where you can catch performances by local bands and artists.
If you’re a foodie, Koenji won’t disappoint either. The neighborhood boasts a range of affordable and delicious local eats, including ramen, udon, and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), as well as international cuisine such as Mexican and Korean food. One of the best places to try local street food is the Koenji Awaodori Festival, which takes place annually in August and features over 200 dance teams and food stalls.
Koenji is also well-connected to other parts of Tokyo, with easy access to the JR Chuo and Sobu lines, as well as the Tokyo Metro Tozai line. It’s a great base for exploring other nearby areas, such as Shinjuku and Nakano.
There are several reasons why travelers should consider visiting Koenji neighborhood while traveling to Japan:
- Vibrant arts and music scene: Koenji is a hub for artistic and musical expression, with plenty of galleries, live music venues, and street performances. This makes it a great place to experience Japan’s alternative and underground culture.
- Vintage shopping: Koenji is known for its many secondhand clothing stores, which offer a unique and eclectic selection of vintage and retro fashion items. This is a great opportunity to shop for one-of-a-kind pieces and souvenirs.
- Local eateries: Koenji has a wide variety of affordable and delicious local eateries, serving up traditional Japanese food as well as international cuisine. This is a great opportunity to try authentic Japanese street food and experience the local food culture.
- Authentic atmosphere: Compared to some of the more touristy areas of Tokyo, Koenji has a more laid-back and authentic atmosphere. This is a great opportunity to experience a more local and off-the-beaten-path side of Tokyo.
- Convenient location: Koenji is well-connected to other parts of Tokyo, with easy access to major transportation hubs like Shinjuku and Tokyo Station. This makes it a great base for exploring other parts of the city.
Koenji Hikawa-jinja is a Shinto shrine located in the heart of the Koenji neighborhood in Tokyo. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, who come to pray for good fortune, health, and happiness.
The shrine is dedicated to the deity Susanoo-no-Mikoto, who is believed to have protected Japan from natural disasters and evil spirits. The shrine’s main hall, or honden, is a beautiful example of traditional Japanese architecture, with a thatched roof and intricate wood carvings.
One of the unique features of Koenji Hikawa-jinja is its torii gate, which is made from a single piece of wood and is said to be one of the largest in Tokyo. The gate leads visitors to a pathway lined with stone lanterns and cherry blossom trees, which are especially beautiful during the spring season.
The shrine is also known for its annual festivals, which include the Setsubun Festival in February and the Hikawa Festival in August. During these festivals, the shrine is decorated with lanterns and colorful streamers, and visitors can participate in traditional Shinto rituals and watch performances of taiko drumming and other cultural activities.
Visiting Koenji Hikawa-jinja is a great way to experience the rich cultural traditions of Japan and learn more about Shinto beliefs and practices. The serene and peaceful atmosphere of the shrine provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to the Koenji neighborhood.
Mural City Project
The Mural City Project is a community-led initiative to create a more vibrant and colorful neighborhood in Koenji through the use of public murals. Since its launch in 2014, the project has brought together local artists and residents to transform the area into a living art gallery, with dozens of murals adorning the walls of buildings, shops, and alleyways.
The murals depict a wide range of styles and themes, from abstract designs and nature scenes to portraits of local residents and pop culture icons. Many of the murals incorporate elements of Japanese culture and history, while others draw inspiration from global street art movements.
The Mural City Project has not only helped to beautify the neighborhood, but it has also created a sense of community pride and engagement. The murals serve as a backdrop for local events and festivals, and have become popular photo spots for visitors to the area.
One of the best ways to experience the Mural City Project is by taking a self-guided walking tour of the area. Maps and information on the project can be found at local tourist information centers, or you can simply wander through the streets and discover the murals on your own. You can also join a guided tour to learn more about the history and context of the murals.
Substore is a popular independent music store located in the heart of Koenji’s shopping district. The store specializes in vinyl records and CDs, with a focus on underground and independent music from Japan and around the world. Substore has a reputation for having an impressive and eclectic selection of music, including rare and hard-to-find releases.
The store has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with friendly and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about music. They are happy to help customers browse through the collection and offer recommendations based on their musical tastes. In addition to selling music, Substore also hosts regular in-store events, such as live performances and DJ sets, which are free and open to the public.
One of the unique features of Substore is its “Record Vending Machine”, where customers can buy a surprise vinyl record for a set price. This is a fun and unique way to discover new music and add to your collection.
Substore is a must-visit for music lovers and collectors who are interested in discovering independent and underground music from Japan and around the world. The store’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere, impressive selection, and unique events make it a standout destination in Koenji’s vibrant music scene.
Kosugi-yu is a traditional Japanese public bathhouse, or “sento”, located in the heart of Koenji neighborhood in Tokyo. The bathhouse has been in operation since 1933 and is one of the oldest and most famous public bathhouses in the area.
Visitors to Kosugi-yu can experience a traditional Japanese bathing experience, which involves washing and soaking in hot water in a communal setting. The bathhouse features separate areas for men and women, each with a changing area, shower stalls, and several baths of different temperatures.
One of the unique features of Kosugi-yu is its retro Showa-era interior, which has been preserved to maintain its historic charm. The bathhouse also features a traditional Japanese garden, which adds to the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.
Kosugi-yu is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and is a great way to experience an important aspect of Japanese culture. Visitors should keep in mind that there are specific rules and etiquette associated with visiting a public bathhouse, such as washing thoroughly before entering the bath, and not bringing any clothing or personal belongings into the bath area.
Dachibin is a small, cozy bar located in the heart of Koenji neighborhood in Tokyo. This hidden gem is known for its friendly atmosphere, affordable drinks, and unique decor, making it a popular spot for locals and travelers alike.
The name “Dachibin” comes from a Japanese term for “moonshine” or homemade liquor, which reflects the bar’s emphasis on serving high-quality, artisanal drinks. The menu features a range of creative cocktails, Japanese sake, and local craft beers, as well as non-alcoholic options for those who prefer something lighter.
One of the highlights of Dachibin is its eclectic decor, which features vintage record players, vinyl records, and antique furnishings. The cozy interior, complete with low lighting and a laid-back vibe, makes it a great spot to unwind after a long day of exploring Tokyo.
The bar is also known for its friendly and welcoming staff, who are happy to chat with patrons and share recommendations for other things to see and do in the Koenji neighborhood.
Cocktail Shobo in Koenji neighborhood is a must-visit spot for those looking for a unique and multi-faceted experience. Not only is it a cozy and intimate cocktail bar, but it’s also a secondhand bookstore.
The bar’s ambiance is warm and welcoming, with low ceilings, wooden beams, and lanterns giving the interior a traditional Japanese house feel. The bartenders are skilled and knowledgeable, and the extensive cocktail menu features both classic and original cocktails. Don’t miss out on their signature drink, the “Shobo Special.”
On the first floor, visitors can browse through a small but well-curated selection of secondhand books mainly focused on literature, philosophy, and art. The books are displayed in a cozy and inviting atmosphere, complete with vintage furniture and warm lighting.
Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet evening drink or want to grab a book to read while sipping on a cocktail, Cocktail Shobo provides a unique and memorable experience. Make sure to add it to your itinerary when exploring Koenji neighborhood!
Nantoka Bar is a cozy and welcoming bar located in the heart of Koenji. The name “Nantoka” loosely translates to “whatever” or “anything,” which reflects the laid-back and unpretentious vibe of the bar.
The interior of Nantoka Bar is small and intimate, with dim lighting and a mix of wooden and vintage decor. The bar counter is the main focal point of the space, where you can sit and chat with the friendly and knowledgeable bartenders.
One of the highlights of Nantoka Bar is its extensive collection of Japanese and international craft beers, with a rotating selection of over 10 different brews on tap. The bar also offers a range of cocktails, wine, and sake, as well as a small selection of bar snacks.
Nantoka Bar is known for its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, with a mix of locals and travelers stopping by for a drink and conversation. The bartenders are friendly and attentive, always happy to chat and provide recommendations based on your preferences.
Poem Coffee House is a cozy and charming café located in the heart of Koenji neighborhood, Tokyo. This hidden gem is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious coffee.
The café is decorated in a retro style, with vintage furniture, old books, and classic vinyl records adorning the shelves. The warm and inviting ambiance makes it a great place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring Koenji’s streets.
Poem Coffee House serves a variety of coffee and tea drinks, including drip coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and matcha latte. They also have a small selection of homemade baked goods, such as muffins, cookies, and scones. All of the drinks and snacks are reasonably priced, making it an affordable option for travelers on a budget.
What makes Poem Coffee House stand out is its dedication to supporting local artists and musicians. The café often hosts live music performances and art exhibitions, showcasing the talents of up-and-coming artists in the Koenji community. This makes it a great place to connect with the local creative scene and experience Japan’s vibrant arts culture.
Shimon-ya is a popular izakaya (Japanese-style pub) located in the heart of Koenji neighborhood in Tokyo. The restaurant is known for its lively atmosphere, delicious food, and affordable prices, making it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike.
The interior of Shimon-ya is cozy and welcoming, with traditional wooden decor and a lively atmosphere. The restaurant is often packed with customers, creating a lively and convivial atmosphere.
As for the food, Shimon-ya offers a wide range of Japanese dishes, including classic izakaya fare such as yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), tempura, and sashimi. The restaurant also has a great selection of sake, beer, and other drinks to complement the food.
One of the most popular dishes at Shimon-ya is their “tsukune” (chicken meatballs), which are made with juicy and flavorful ground chicken and grilled to perfection. Another must-try dish is their “takoyaki” (octopus balls), which are crispy on the outside and soft and savory on the inside.
The prices at Shimon-ya are very reasonable, with many dishes priced at under 500 yen. This makes it a great option for travelers who want to try traditional Japanese food without breaking the bank.
Hayatochiri is a unique and stylish clothing store located in the heart of Koenji. The store specializes in vintage and secondhand clothing, with a focus on high-quality and unique pieces. The store’s interior is simple yet inviting, with wooden shelves and racks displaying a carefully curated selection of clothing items.
What sets Hayatochiri apart from other vintage stores in the area is its focus on clothing from the 1980s and 1990s, which gives the store a distinctive retro feel. The store carries a range of clothing items, including denim jackets, vintage band t-shirts, oversized sweaters, and statement accessories like belts and hats.
In addition to its clothing selection, Hayatochiri also offers a selection of handcrafted jewelry and accessories, made by local artists and artisans. This adds a personal touch to the store and makes it a great place to shop for unique and meaningful souvenirs.
The staff at Hayatochiri are friendly and knowledgeable, and are always happy to assist customers in finding the perfect item. The store’s atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, making it a great place to browse and discover new fashion gems.
Sokkyo is a popular vintage clothing store located in the heart of Koenji. This unique and eclectic store offers a wide selection of vintage clothing and accessories, as well as handmade items and art pieces.
As soon as you step inside Sokkyo, you’ll be greeted by a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with rustic wooden furniture, vintage posters, and quirky knick-knacks lining the walls. The store has a distinctly bohemian vibe, with an emphasis on sustainable fashion and artisanal craftsmanship.
One of the main draws of Sokkyo is its impressive collection of vintage clothing, which ranges from classic denim and leather jackets to funky 80s prints and retro accessories. The store also stocks a selection of handmade items, including jewelry, bags, and hats, which are crafted by local artisans using traditional techniques.
In addition to its fashion offerings, Sokkyo also has a small art gallery space, where you can browse and purchase works by up-and-coming artists from around the world. The gallery features a rotating selection of exhibitions, with a focus on contemporary and experimental art forms.