Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Harmonica Yokochō: An Izakaya & Street Food Paradise

As soon as you walk out of Kichijoji Station from the north exit, the yellow sign of Harmonica Yokochō Kichijōji (ハモニカ横丁吉祥寺) is on your face. It is the best part of Kichijōji for everyday dining, grabbing a couple of side dishes, eating while walking, and visiting izakaya at night. Most of the shops here are small restaurants for dine-in or takeaway. But confectionary and side dishes shops can also be found.

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About Harmonica Yokochō

Harmonica Yokochō Kichijōji (ハモニカ横丁吉祥寺), or Harmonica Alley outside of Kichijoji Station’s north exit, was originally a flea market after World War II. Because the aerial view of the shops and restaurants in the narrow alley resembles a harmonica reed, the locals named it Harmonica. In the two blocks, there are close to a hundred stores!

© photo-ac.com

The atmosphere of the blocks is completely different between day and nighttime. During the day, it is a great place to experience the Showa era tone after the war. It is like a local market selling vegetables, seafood and meat, handicrafts, and sweets.

But when the sun starts to set, the alleys have an Iazakaya vibe. More and more people gather at Harmonica Yokochō’s small restaurants and bars for after-work drinks and dinner.

The Five Alleys in Harmonica Yokochō

Harmonica Yokochō can be largely divided into five alleys.

  • The Chūō-dōri (中央通り) street has many bars, izakayas, and skewer restaurants.
  • Shōwakei-dōri (祥和会通り) is the most lively part of the alley block.
  • The Asahi-dōri (朝日通り) has many restaurants and fishmongers lined.
  • For shopping in the boutique shops, head to the Nakamise-dōri (仲見世通り).
  • Lastly, for the night owls, head to Norenkoji (のれん小路).

Harmonica Yokochō Morning Market (ハモニカ横丁吉祥寺朝市)

The Harmonica Yokochō Morning Market held on the 2nd Sunday of each month (previously the 3rd Sunday) is also what the alley is known for. Small eateries in the alley open early in the day, and it is what the locals wake up for on a Sunday morning. Even bars will open when the morning market is on to offer their morning market special breakfast!

Note the market isn’t for the late-raisers. It only opens from 8 to 11 in the morning. You can refer to their Facebook Page for the most up-to-date hours.

andoh coffee

Many people start their day with a nice cup of coffee. In Kichijōji, the best spot to get your morning coffee is andoh coffee. This coffee shop supplies roasted coffee beans to many cafes in the neighborhood. Because the owner, Andō-san, roasts the beans with great care and attention, there is always a good selection of different coffee beans and roast levels to choose from. No matter which roast level you prefer, he can accommodate.

Decaf coffee is also available for those who can’t take the kick. In fact, you can hardly find the decaf coffee that is this phenomenal. Seasonal products might also be on the menu when you visit it!

If you are unsure which bean and the roast level, Andō-san is patient and will take his time to recommend the best combination that you might like the best!

Roasted beans, including decaf coffee beans, are also on sale at the small coffee stand. If you are like many customers who think the coffee here is the best among the ones you have tried in Tokyo, how about bringing a bag or two of coffee beans home?

andoh coffee’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • andoh coffee is open from 9 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • It only opens from 1:30 pm on Thursdays.
  • Refer to the Official Instagram Account for the most up-to-date business hours.
  • The coffee stand is a 1-minute walk from Kichijoji Station.

Mifune (美舟)

Mifune is an izakaya with a couple of vegetarian dishes. Not only is there a variety of alcoholic drinks on the menu, but the list on the food menu is so long that the walls in the restaurant are filled with what is on offer!

second floor. Coupled with the low tables, it is the best setting to experience a traditional izakaya vibe. No wonder it was one of the filming locations for the Japanese movie Fireworks, which aired in 2017.

Unlike many restaurants in Kichijōji, where the quality of customer service has dropped dramatically since COVID-19, Mifune is still recognized as a place that treats customers nicely. The price here is reasonable as well.

Mifune’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Mifune is open from
    • 4 pm to 12 am on weekends and public holidays
    • 5 pm to 12 am on weekdays
  • The izakaya is a 1-minute walk from Kichijoji Station.

Apron (エプロン)

If you like oden and don’t’ mind the non-vegetarian broth, Apron on Nakamise-dōri Street (仲見世通り) is the most famous oden restaurant in Kichijōji. Compared to most restaurants in Harmonica Yokochō, Apron with a wooden interior theme has a more stylish look. Renovated from an old house, it has a small counter on the first floor where the kitchen is. If the counter seats are all taken, you can still sit on the second floor.

Tomato and Tororo Konbu is one of our recommended dishes. Although tomato isn’t a typical ingredient in oden, it has become more popular recently. The shredded kelp goes really well with simmered tomato.

The kurumabu (車麩), radish, konjac, and bean curd are also nice.

Note that oden isn’t on the menu every day. But even if it isn’t on, the dishes on the replaced special menu are amazing. Also, if you dislike staff smoking in the kitchen, avoid Apron.

Apron’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Apron is open from
    • 11:30 am to 2 pm
    • 5 pm to 12 am
  • The izakaya is a 2-minute walk from Kichijoji Station.

Trattoria Piatt Fresco (トラットリア ピアット フレスコ)

There are many Italian restaurants in Kichijōji, and Trattoria Piatt Fresco is one of the best. Piatto Fresco means freshly made dishes. Like its name, the food made here is cooked from fresh ingredients after receiving an order. This is one of the reasons that the restaurant is usually full. The taste of Trattoria Piatt Fresco’s dishes can compete with Michelin-starred restaurants!

Like many eateries on the block, Trattoria Piatt Fresco has a limited dining space of only seven seats. But because of its size, the chef can greet the customers while cooking. Trained in Italy, the chef uses many seasonings from the country. Thus, the taste of his food is authentic. Bread and olive oil also come with the pasta dishes.

If you are unsure what to order, we recommend the tomato-based pizza or pasta. Unlike many Italian restaurants in Japan that use ready-made tomato sauce/cans, Trattoria Piatt Fresco makes its own tomato sauce. The resulting sauce thus has tomato’s natural sweetness. In addition, the pizza dough undergoes two fermentation at a low temperature for at least 48 hours. So, the crust is chewier than the average pizza!

Tips:
☛ Try their semifreddo (セミフレッド). The dessert is between mousse and gelato. It is amazing!
☛ Make a reservation by calling 0422-23-3585 or arrive early to avoid queueing.

Trattoria Piatt Fresco’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Trattoria Piatt Fresco is open from
    • 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch
    • 6 pm to 10 pm for dinner
    • It closes for Monday’s dinner time and on Wednesdays.
  • The restaurant is a 2-minute walk from Kichijoji Station.

Amane (有職たい菓子本舗 天音)

Speaking of the must-eat street food in Kichijōji, the taiyaki has to be one of them. The fish-shape pastry is one of the top street foods in Japan and is thus a must-eat when you explore the beautiful country.

Amane is one of the most famous taiyaki makers in town and is one of the reasons that people visit the small alley during the day. Its taiyaki still tasty when cold!

For more information, refer to our article on The Top Three Taiyaki Makers in Tokyo’s Kichijōji!

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