Tokyo Area Guide: Kichijoji 吉祥寺
Kichijoji gets a passing mention in most guides to Tokyo if only for Inokashira Koen, a park celebrated for its spring cherry blossom viewing (hanami). However, there is more to Kichijoji than cherry blossoms.
Kichijoji is located in the city of Musashino, to the west of Tokyo, less than half an hour by train from the center. It has been an entertainment and shopping center since markets and shopping streets began to develop around the station after World War II. Department stores, music venues, bars and restaurants soon followed.
Kichijoji Station and shopping
You can do a lot in Kichjoji without leaving the station, which itself has plenty of shopping and eating attractions.
-Kichijoji Lonlon for a huge range of fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and prepared food.
-The Garden, part of an upmarket supermarket chain
-Dining and Fashion Street for food and fashion.
The station's North Exit accesses Kichijoji's biggest shopping, eating and drinking area:
-Sun Road, a covered shopping arcade (shotengai). Check out the smaller lanes leading off it, too. Jazz fans might head for Sometime in Penny Lane, which has jazz every night of the week.
-Kichijoji Town Information, an inconspicuous booth to the right of Sun Road for an English-language guide map to the Musashino area.
-Parco, Isetan and Seiyu department stores.
-Renjo-ji, Kosen-ji and Gesso-ji temples: tranquil green oases in the midst of the shopping frenzy.
Yuzawaya department store, near the station, is good for reasonably priced, but authentically Japanese, souvenir shopping.
The whole complex of shotengai (covered shopping arcade) and lanes are flanked by two roads - Koen-dori to the west and Kichijoji-odori to the east. Sun Road ends at Itsukaicho-kaido although there are numerous shopping, dining, drinking and temple viewing possibilities beyond it.
Koen-dori is home to the dignified Tokyu department store, the Kichijoji Daiichi Hotel and numerous banks. Beyond it to the west is a shopper's paradise of small streets with small shops selling homeware, clothes, food, electronic equipment, antiques and more.
Kichijoji-odori, to the east, is dominated by Yodobashi Camera and Laox, two huge electronics and home appliance stores.
Kichijoji's nightlife lies behind them, to the east. NB: there is a Citibank ATM almost on the corner of Kichijoji-odori with a sign visible from the North Exit of the station.
Ideal if you happen to miss the last train home are Popeye Media Cafe on Sun Road where it meets Honchoshindo (a road running between Koen-dori and Kichijoji-odori) and and the Gran Bagus Cyber Cafe in Motomachi-dori opposite Isetan department store. These mangakissa (manga cafes) are the closest thing to an internet cafe, but also offer private booths, manga libraries, food and drink, and sometimes even showers.
Inokashira Koen Park
Inokashira Koen Park lies south of the JR railway line, although even there is a Marui department store (look for the sign reading OIOI) and a Tokyu Hotel as well restaurants and bars.
Take the Park Exit from Kichijoji Station and follow the crowds across Inokashira-dori down one of three gently sloping streets to Inokashira-koen. The middle street, Nanaibashi-dori, is to the right of Marui and is lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants.
During the week Inokashira-koen is a haven of quiet and greenery, but is thronged at weekends (particularly Sundays). On Sundays there are entertainers and a small craft market. The most crowded season is at hanami (blossom viewing) time when it is solid with picnickers.
However, turn right after crossing the bridge and make your way along the lake to find a less populated part of the park. Keep walking and you will come to the small but pleasant Inokashira Zoo. Beyond the park and the zoo is the Ghibli Museum: actually beyond Kichijoji in Mitaka.
Access to Kichijoji
The Tozai subway line also runs to Kichijoji, intersecting the Chuo-Sobu Line at Nakano. Alternatively, the Keio Inokashira Line starts at Shibuya Station and ends at Kichijoji at a cost of 90. Express trains stop at Shimokitazawa (another place worth visiting), Meidaimae, Eifukucho and Kugayama and take 16 minutes. The local train, which stops at all 17 stations, takes 26 minutes.
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