Kichijōji: The Vibrant Tokyo Neighborhood Where Everyone Wants To Be

Often hailed as one of the most desirable areas to live in Tokyo, the neighborhood of 吉祥寺 Kichijōji has become a must-visit for those looking for a unique mix of all the city has to enjoy. Kichijōji offers a laid-back atmosphere, trendy shopping streets, and beautiful parks. It remains conveniently located in Tokyo, but never gets lost in the hustle and bustle of city life. A day in Kichijōji can be a fulfilling trip, highlighted by a relaxing time at its gorgeous parks, a visit to the anime world of the Ghibli Museum, and punctuated by the cozy alleyway bars that come alive at night.


Kichijōji is accessible via the JR Sobu and Chuo lines running to Kichijōji Station, as well as the Keio-Inokashira Line. Many of the neighborhood’s well-known attractions are a 15 minute walk from Kichijōji Station (JB02,IN17).

Food and Drink

Kichijōji’s covered shopping arcades offer a variety of snacks from food stands. [Photo for illustrative purposes only]

Kichijōji is host to a number of great dining options, no matter the time of day. On the northern side of Kichijōji Station, the covered shopping arcades of Sun Road and Daiyagai are perfect to try out some of the area’s celebrated coffee houses, bakeries, and casual restaurants offering both a mix of traditional Japanese food and international fare. While you can enjoy taking in the atmosphere of one of the neighborhood’s trendy bistros, plenty of takeout food options mean you can enjoy a tasty snack or beverage by the relaxing pond of Inokashira Park.

Once night falls, it’s time to head over to Harmonica Yokocho, a network of narrow alleyways populated by small but cozy standing bars. Here you can enjoy a night of barhopping, taking in a wide array of traditional Japanese pub food and drink, or perhaps a bowl of ramen to finish off your night. Music lovers can also check out the cafes and jazz bars that come alive during the evening as well.

Harmonica Alley’s maze of alleyway bars and restaurant act as a nightlife hub for the area.


吉祥寺中道通り Nakamichi Street: This shopping arcade area boasts small but trendy fashion boutiques, art galleries, vintage clothes, designer homeware, and plenty of fascinating postcards. Many non-chain cafes, chic restaurants and shops, and music houses help contribute to the Bohemian and creative atmosphere that make Kichijōji a unique shopping trip in Tokyo.

吉祥寺サンロード Kichijōji Sunroad: The Sunroad Shopping Arcade is a covered shopping street north of Kichijōji Station. This bustling shopping street is lined with shops and restaurants on both sides. Visitors can shop with no concern for the elements, and find everything from clothing and accessories to souvenirs and traditional Japanese sweets. The vibrant atmosphere of the street is also sometimes livened up by musical performances.

Kichijōji’s Sunroad offers an indoor shopping arcade experience.

Sightseeing and activities

井の頭公園 Inokashira Park: This spacious park may be considered the top landmark of Kichijōji. The lush, green park feels like an oasis of natural beauty in the middle of Tokyo, and is centered around the Inokashira Pond. Park guests cans hop into rental swan pedal boats and rowboats, or picnic under the many trees and admire the calming scenery. In spring, the park becomes a popular spot for cherry blossom-viewing parties, and many also flock to the park in the fall to admire brilliant foliage. To top things off, the neighborhood’s artists and musicians frequent the park, sometimes making use of a stage set up for performances. Also within the park is the Inokashira Park Zoo, where visitors can observe fascinating Japanese wildlife such as tanuki racoon dogs and cranes.

Inokashira Park is a great natural escape in the middle of the city.

三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 Ghibli Museum Mitaka: The Ghibli Museum is a museum dedicated to the works of beloved Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. The museum, located in the Inokashira Park area, was designed by legendary director Hayao Miyazaki himself, and features exhibits and displays modeled after the worlds featured in famous Studio Ghibli films. Guests can watch short films produced exclusively for the museum, and view original artwork from Studio Ghibli films. With a rooftop garden, café, gift shop, and bookstore, the Ghibli Museum is not to be missed by fans of Japanese animation. It’s highly recommended to buy tickets in advance of your trip, as the museum puts a cap on the number of daily visitors.

The Gibli Museum is a must-visit for fans of Japanese animation.

All in all, Kichijōji is a highly recommended stop on the itineraries of Tokyo travelers. Its youthful and relaxed atmosphere provides a warming contrast to the busier areas of Tokyo, as does the lovely scenery of Inokashira Park as the neighborhood’s centerpiece. Kichijōji’s laid-back vibes don’t come at a sacrifice of things to do, however. Whether it be a nice day in the park, a night navigating a maze of standing bars, or simply enjoying the artistic and fashionable atmosphere of the town with some good coffee and music, travelers spending a day in Kichijōji won’t be lacking in options for a fun time.