Not sure where to start when you visit Kichijoji? This guide is for you. You'll find here the essential information on how to enjoy both the nature-side and the urban-side of this famous Tokyo neighbourhood. Kichijoji is an awesome place to live in or to visit!
Kichijoji is a city that is part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. It's located at about a 15-minute train ride to the west of Shinjuku. To get there, take the Chuo Line to the Kichijoji Station, or if you are leaving from Shibuya, take the Inogashira Line up to Inokashira Station (also about a 15-minute train ride). The neighbourhood is extremely convenient for that reason: it's easily accessible from two of Tokyo's major stations. Aside from being conveniently located, Kichijoji also has one of the hugest parks in the Tokyo region, and it has plenty of shopping and dining options. For these reasons, it consistently ranks among the top cities to live in, in Tokyo. It's a very interesting neighbourhood that you should definitely visit! Here are some of the major attractions in Kichijoji.
Inogashira Park （井の頭公園)
Taking a stroll in the Inogashira Park should be the first item of your "things I have to do" in Kichijoji" list.
Admire its beautiful vegetation and pond
There are simply so few parks of this size in beauty in Tokyo, and if you are lucky enough to visit in late March, you will see arguably one of the best sakura (cherry blossoms) site in the Japanese capital. What makes it so special aside from its size is that in the middle of Kichijoji's beautiful park, there is a vast pond surrounded by mature sakura trees that have been made to grow so that their branches extend over the water. The pond has an elongated form, at the western extremity of it, there is a little stone bridge that is the absolute best place to view the scene in all its beauty.
See some carps
There is a long bridge that crosses the pond at its center. From there, you can gaze at the water to see some carps and possibly other animals such as turtles. Perhaps because they are both hideous and beautiful at the same time, I find carps extremely captivating to watch. If you are interested in wildlife, there is even a small natural museum inside the park. The entrance fee is low and kids will love it. It's located on an island at the center at around the center part of the pond.
Stop at a Shinto shrine
How to make a beautiful Japanese pond even more awesome? Build a shrine on a tiny island. That's what you can see in the pond of Inogashira Park so make sure to give it a least a quick visit and take a moment to realize what a special place you are in. You'll definitely fall in love with Kichijoji by then.
It just has to be said: the park is an extremely popular poke-spot. So if you're into that, make sure to open your app, to get those rare catches. Trust me, you won't be alone. Even if you are not into the game, it's interesting to just observe the mass gathering of people of all ages at the park as a social phenomenon.
Kichijoji also happens to be a gourmet's paradise! If you've worked up an appetite while enjoying your walk through the park, you might want to stop at the Thai restaurant called Pepacafe Forest that is within the park. The place is crowded, especially on the weekend, but the quality is good and the prices are reasonable. Kichijoji has many nice cafes and stylish restaurants, so make sure to check out these guides! Within the park, you can also get some kakigori (shaved ice) in the summer.
Check out the links below to find out more about all the awesome places to eat around Kichijoji.
If you walk towards the southern part of the park, you should come to the Studio Ghibli Museum. The place is a shrine dedicated to the work of master animator Hayao Miyazaki who was personally greatly invested in the project. The very architecture of the museum is based on the style of buildings in his universe. You'll be blown away to see the creative process that goes behind the making of his animated movies. There is a catch however if you want to go there, the tickets are not sold at the door; they have to be bought in advance. So if you intend to go there, plan ahead. Check out the link below for more information.
If you continue to the southern part of the park, you'll come across an athletic field and a kids playground. The place is comparatively less crowded than the pond area, so if you want some downtime, you can relax there and maybe have a picnic.
Visit the adjacent zoo
The last thing to mention about the park area is that there is a famous zoo adjacent to it. You can see monkeys and Japanese squirrels among many other things. This place is more geared towards children.
Done With The Park, Head To The Other Side Of Kichijoji
The park area is all in the south of the city, but actually, the most bustling part of Kichijoji in terms of shopping, restos, bars, and cafe is on the north side of the station. So once you're done with the park head back to Kichijoji Station and go to the north side (there is a passage that crosses under the JR Station from the south to the north.
Walk through the old back alleys of Kichijoji's Harmonica Yokocho
Forget about the big shopping malls, this is the most interesting thing to do in the north area of Kichijoji. Harmonica Yokocho is a maze of small alleys along which are tiny restaurants and bars with a quaint Showa Era authenticity. It's amazing this kind of place still exists in such a fashionable neighborhood. People associate Harmonica Yokocho with a vibrant nightlife, because of it's many small bars, but actually, it's quite interesting to visit during the daytime as well. Many of the small bars serve delicious and cheap Japanese-style all-you-can-eat brunches in the morning. So make sure to walk through that area.
If you're in a shopping mood, you'll be served. Kichijoji has one of the most impressive shopping arcades in Japan, called the Sunshine Road. From the north exit of the station, you won't miss it. There are countless roadside stores and also huge shopping malls that are connected to the area.
Steak House Satou is a place located in that area that is worth mentioning. There are long queues in front of the butcher shop on the first floor which sells some of the most delicious "menchi katsu" (deep-fried ground meat patty), and on the second floor, there is a famous restaurant where you can have some amazing wagyu at a bargain price.
Walk to the end of the Sunshine Road and you'll be near a shrine is another point of interest. It may not be the most amazing in Tokyo, but its premises is quite vast and it provides a quiet, peaceful place to take another breather. Musashino Hachimangu gets particularly crowded at the beginning of the year because it's a popular spot to do hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year).
Have a wonderful day in Kichijoji! For other guides of things to do in Tokyo, check out these links!