Kichijoji station is home to one of Tokyo’s hippest and most vibrant areas with lots to see and do. The station’s convenient location and amenities makes it a desirable destination for locals and tourists alike. For the traveller who is looking for something slightly off the beaten track, Kichijoji is a wonderful option to begin, or wind up, your journey.
Kichijoji station has been serving passengers since 1899 and is the gateway to one of Tokyo’s most desirable neighborhoods. It was originally an outpost of the Kobu Railway’s Chuo line, and today it handles approximately 200,000 passengers a day on the JR Chuo/Sobu local and rapid lines and the Keio Inokashira Line. Downtown Tokyo destinations are easily accessible with Shinjuku and Shibuya stations roughly 15 minutes away. Easy access to destinations in Western Tokyo is also available with train service to scenic Mount Takao, as well as the Yamanashi area with its up and coming vineyards. Tickets for JR rail service can be purchased adjacent to the JR gate on the 2ndfloor, or on the third floor next to the Keio Inokashira line gate. Travelers can also find many amenities within the station confines including coffee shops, convenience stores, and bento shops. There is also a JR Ticketing and Travel Service Center to assist with planning day trips or providing suggestions or discount coupons for area attractions.
Nearby the station are a handful of lodging choices available at a variety of price levels. Closest to the station is the Micro Museum Hostel which has beds for as little ¥5400 per night. As its name suggests, the hostel is also a museum exhibiting works of up-and-coming artists that are rotated out on a monthly basis. The Kichijoji Daiichi Hotel is chic boutique hotel that is a little more upscale and is about a six minute walk from the station with comfortable rooms from about ¥12500 per night. It features multiple dining options as well as a seasonal beer garden on site. If your budget is a little higher, the Kichijoji Tokyu REI Hotel is available starting at about ¥16000 per night. There are also several smaller traditional Japanese ryokans, or guesthouses, located in the area offering a traditional Japanese experience.
Dine and Drink
Kichijoji Station boasts a wealth of places to grab a bite to eat or something to drink. The attached Atré shopping mall has a number of options including sushi, pizza, burgers, traditional Japanese food as well as cafes and sweets shops. Venture outside the station’s North Exit to the Sun Road shotengai, or shopping street, and you’ll find dozens of other choices. Numerous little shops dot the pedestrian thoroughfare offering up tasty yakitori (skewers of grilled chicken), kushiage(skewers of deep fried meats and veggies), Japanese sweets and other snacks. Be sure to stop at Satou steak house for their signature menchikatsu, deep fried croquettes stuffed with meat, onions and seasoning, or Granny Smith Apple Pie and Coffee if you are craving homemade apple pie.
Also within walking distance from the North Exit is Harmonica Alley, so named for the tiny restaurants and standing bars wedged into its narrow, maze like streets. Bright yellow signs will direct you to its entrances. Pollo, located directly opposite the station, is a standing bar offering up delicious roast chicken. Their mini pollo dinner is about ¥600 and well worth it if you’re craving comfort food. Maguro no nakada, located right around the corner from Pollo, has fresh, tasty sashimi donburi, or rice topped with fresh tuna or salmon, for about ¥900.
Venture deeper into the alley’s nooks and crannies and you’ll find great Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian in addition to all varieties of Japanese specialties. Head out the station’s Park Exit and you’ll find even more dining choices all within a short walk. For craft beer lovers, Yona Yona and Baird Breweries, two of Japan’s oldest craft brewers, have tap rooms within close proximity to the station. Also, the Craft Beer Market, located underneath the railroad tracks adjacent to Atre, has over thirty craft beers on tap from all over Japan, Europe and the United States.
Clothes, Souvenirs, and Other Shopping
The Atré shopping mall also houses everything from clothing shops to nail salons, gift shops and much more packed into its three floors. Located not too far away from the station are larger malls including Coppice, 0101, and Kirarina Keio with multiple floors of options. Several major retailers, including Tokyu, Uniqlo, LL Bean, Muji and others also have a presence in the area. Journey a short stroll away from the station to Sun Road and you’ll find small independent stores selling shoes, hats, clothes, snacks and souvenirs. Make your way to Mu for its large collection of fedoras, berets and other types of haberdashery.
On the opposite corner from Satou, you’ll find Tsuchiya Shiyoten, which sells senbei, or Japanese rice crackers, seaweed and other interesting Japanese snacks and ingredients. Follow the aroma of fresh tea being roasted nearby to one of Kichijoji’s finer tea shops and, across from that, visit Kikuya for traditional Japanese pottery and glassware, fans, chopsticks and other souvenirs. On the park side of the station, you’ll find vintage clothing shops carrying loads of luxury high end brands at affordable prices, as well as souvenir shops with lots of kitsch to go around. Whatever your tastes may be, you’re sure to find something appealing.
Kichijoji has become popular with tourists and locals alike and for good reason. With its vast assortment of shops, restaurants, and cafes, it is the perfect starting point, or destination, for any Japanese rail trip. Explore its web of narrow streets and uncover all this vibrant area has to offer.
This post was written by Nick Giarratani