Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to What to Do in Kichijōji

Kichijōji (吉祥寺) in Tokyo has been chosen as the “The Most Desirable Area to Live in” for four consecutive years. Not only does it have good infrastructure and convenient transportation, but it is also full of delicious restaurants and boutique stores. The small alleys of Kichijōji also have their unique charms. So, next time you visit Tokyo, check out the attractions below in Kichijōji!

Table of Contents

How to Get to Kichijōji and a Snapshot of Kichijoji Station’s North and South Exit

Kichijōji can be easily accessed by taking a JR train from Shinjuku. You can also take the Keio’s Inokashira Line (京王井の頭線) from Shibuya.

If your first stop is Inokashira Park, get off at Keio’s Inokashira-Kōen Station is better.

The main tourist areas are located at the “North Exit (北口)” and “Park Exit (公園口)/South Exit (南口)” exits. If you like shopping, multiple shopping malls and shopping streets are close to the North Exit, including SUNROAD Shopping District and department stores, such as PARCO and atre.

As the name suggested, the Park Exit is close to Inokashira Park (井の頭公園). You can stop by the famous bakery, Le repas, and source food to picnic in the park. Walking further from the park, you will get to the infamous Ghibli Museum.

If you want to shop at Don Quijote, it is also close to the South Exit. Moreover, you can source some vegan groceries, baked goods, and even vegan bento boxes from the BIO-RAL(ビオラル) organic supermarket on the ground floor of Marui Kichijōji (吉祥寺マルイ).

The Top Three Taiyaki Makers in Tokyo’s Kichijōji

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. If you are unsure which shop’s taiyaki you will like the best, refer to our article on The Top Three Taiyaki Makers in Tokyo’s Kichijōji!

Kichijōji SUNROAD Shopping District (吉祥寺サンロード商店街)

Soon after you getting out of Kichijoji Station’s north exit, Kichijōji SUNROAD Shopping District is on your face. The 300-meter-long shopping street is fully covered. So, when the weather conditions aren’t ideal for sightseeing, come to Kichijōji SUNROAD Shopping District for eating and souvenir shopping!

Restaurants, accessory stores, chemists, and clothes shops filled the Kichijōji SUNROAD Shopping District. Just in a small block, there are more than five popular chemists, including Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Sun Drug. So, if you want to compare prices for skin care products, Kichijōji SUNROAD Shopping District is a good spot in Tokyo.

  • SHOE・PLAZA (シュー・プラザ)
    • Close to the entrance of SUNROAD Shopping District
    • A wide variety of shoes is on the shelf, including European, American and Japanese brands
    • Duty Free service available
  • OS Drug Kichijōji (OSドラッグ 吉祥寺店)
    • The shop is small and packed with products. But the price is likely to be the cheapest among its competitors.
  • Linde Kichijōji (リンデ 吉祥寺本店)
    • A popular German bakery that offers authentic German-style bread.
    •  Contrasting the French style bread, the German style bread is drier. If you are used to the French-style croissant, you might be shocked when you try the German-style croissant at Linde. In fact, the croissant here looks different. It is like the ordinary jeans vs torn jeans (´▽`*).
    • Rye bread is available at Linde.
    • The same as Liberté Pâtisserie Boulangerie Tokyo Kichijōji, you can eat the bread you purchase from the bakery on the first floor at the cafe space on the second floor.
  • Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Kichijōji Store (ヨドバシカメラ マルチメディア 吉祥寺)
    • A large 3C complex consisting multiple well-known brands, including DAISO, ABC-MART (shoe store), and GU
  • SEIYU Kichijōji Store (西友 吉祥寺店)
    • SEIYU is a comprehensive shopping mall. B1 and 1F are the company’s supermarkets.
    • On the upper floors, there are a couple more shops, including MUJI (a Japanese daily necessity shop) and Seria (a shop similar to Daiso).

Harmonica Yokochō Kichijōji (ハモニカ横丁吉祥寺)

Harmonica Yokochō Kichijōji 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!

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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 start to sets, the alley has an Iazakaya vibe. More and more people gather at Harmonica Yokocho’s small restaurants and bars for after-work drinks and dinner.

For more information, refer to our Harmonica Yokochō Kichijōji!

Daiyagai Shopping Arcade (吉祥寺ダイヤ街)

If you come to Kichijōji for local food and snacks, visit the Daiyagai parallel to Kichijoji Station beyond Harmonica Yokochō. The arcade is divided into three zones: the East Zone (イースト・ゾーン), the West Zone (ウエスト・ゾーン), and the South Zone (サウス・ゾーン). When you walk on the covered shopping street, you will notice more than 50 per cent of the establishments are food-related. It is also a great spot in the area to purchase snacks, alcohol, and even the bullet train tickets at a cheap price.

For more information, refer to our article on Kichijōji  Daiyagai!

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Nakamichi-dōri Shopping Street (中道通り商店街)

While Kichijōji in general is packed with interesting shops and cafes, the establishments in the Nakamichi-dōri Shopping Street (中道通り商店街) stretching west from Kichijoji Station’s north exit are particularly unique. With a total length of 540 meters, it is the longest shopping street in Kichijōji. If you have limited time and want to get a feel of the neighborhood, Nakamichi-dōri Shopping Street is the top place to visit.

For more information, refer to our Nakamichi-dōri Shopping Street article.

Taishō-dōri Street (大正通)

The Taishō-dōri Shopping District in Kichijōji, east of the Tokyu Department Store, mainly consists of the Taishō-dōri and Shōwa-dōri streets. You will find many unique boutique stores and restaurants. Because many shops and cafes here have an European-theme, the shopping district is also referred to as the Scandinavian street (北欧通り).

Kichijōji Art Museum (武蔵野市立吉祥寺美術館)

A spot that adds to Kichijōji’s artistic atmosphere is Kichijōji Art Museum. Hidden in Kichijōji’s shopping district, the small but sophisticated museum is where people can get close to art in their busy lives. All exhibits in the museum were donated by artists or their bereaved families who have a connection to Musashino City (武蔵野市).

Among the 2,500 pieces of artwork in the museum’s collection are Japanese-style paintings, oil paintings, and much more. Special exhibitions and creative works from the locals are also what you can expect when visiting Kichijōji Art Museum.

Kichijōji Art Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Kichijōji Art Museum is open from 10 am to 7:30 pm from Thursday to Tuesday.
    • If Wednesday is a public holiday, it will close on the next business day.
    • It also closes from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January.
  • The admission fee is
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 100 yen for high school students
  • Kichijōji Art Museum is a 3-minute walk from Kichijoji Station’s North Exit. The museum is on FF building’s 7th floor.

Kichijōji Goen Jizō (吉祥寺御縁地蔵)

Kichijōji Goen Jizō is the spot to visit for those looking for a life partner and good relationships. The statue is on the first floor of Kichijōji Jizō Building (吉祥寺じぞうビル). Because of the bright red pillars, you definitely won’t miss the building when walking past it.

The building is the headquarters of Jizōya Co., Ltd (株式会社じぞう屋). The company runs multiple restaurants and manages buildings in Kichijōji. Its motto is to bring smiles to people’s faces by connecting one with another. This is probably why the company was named after the Bodhisattva and has a Jizō statue enshrined.

Entering the building is like being transported to Kyoto’s small alley. At the end of the corridor is the Jizō Bodhisattva, which brings pilgrims good connections. As the company believes that a wonderful relationship starts with a smile, the statue here is really smiley. Apparently, the statue was properly enshrined by holding a ritual by the monk of Suzumushi-dera Temple (鈴虫寺) in Kyoto.

How to pray at Kichijōji Goen Jizō is different from temples and shrines. After putting a five yen coin in the donation box:

  1. Pick up one red and white braid from the box.
  2. Tie the braid twice to the thick cord connected to the Bodhisattva’s crosier.
  3. Tell him who you are and where you live before saying your prayer.

The most important thing in the simple ritual is putting on a sincere smile when talking to the Jizō Bodhisattva. It is said that your wishes will be granted when you pray with a pure heart.

Amulets and fortune slips are also obtainable by using the capsule toy machine.

Kichijōji Goen Jizō’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Kichijōji Goen Jizō is accessable 24/7.
  • The building is a 3-minute walk from Kichijoji Station’s south exit.

Inokashira Park (井の頭公園)

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Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Inokashira Park is Kichijōji’s landmark. That park is just a 5-minute walk from Kichijoji Station and has a ground of 42,000 square meters. The park is one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots. Around Inokashira Pond, more than 200 cherry trees are planted. This is why many people paddle the swan boats to tour around the lake in early spring. The scene of the pink cherry blossom petals fluttering in the wind and falling on the pond is just too romantic to miss!

For more information, refer to our Inokashira Park article!

Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館)

If you are a Ghibli fan, visiting the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka is a must. Although instinctively, you might get off the train at Mitaka Station (三鷹駅), starting your visit by getting off the train at Kichijoji Station is a good idea. As Inokashira Park is on the way to Ghibli Museum, you will see the museum’s Totoro signs when walking in the park. In fact, Inokashira Park’s lush green forest is the best setting to warm you up to the fairy tale world in the museum.

Ghibli Museum isn’t just about the animation. It introduces the principles of animation production to its guests. In the museum, you will find the hand-drawn original manuscripts of Ghibli’s movies. From sketching to drafting to coloring, the exhibits together paint a clear picture of how animation in the good old days was produced.

While younger children might not be so interested in learning how the Ghibli movies were made, the Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro on the third floor will definitely excite them. The play area is where they can board the Cat Bus in the anime!

Tip: Join the Mitaka Mori Ghibli Museum & Inokashira Park Walking Tour is a great way to obtain Ghibli Museum’s ticket!

How to Get to Ghibli Museum

  • The Ghibli Museum is around a 15-minute walk from Mitaka Station (三鷹駅).
    • If you don’t want to walk, take the community bus from the station. It operates on approximately a 20-minute interval. Refer to the official website HERE for more information.
  • You can also get off the train at Kichijoji Station (吉祥寺駅) or Inokashira-Kōen Station (井の頭公園駅) and walk for 15 to 20 minutes.

The Unique Cafes in Kichijōji

Tokyo has many great cafes, but we reckon some of the best ones are in Kichijōji. Not only is the food in many of them delicious, but they have unique vibe and offer a different dining experience.

For more information, refer to our article on Kichijōji’s Unique Cafes!

Bakery

  • Liberté Pâtisserie Boulangerie Tokyo Kichijōji (リベルテ・パティスリー・ブーランジェリー 東京本店)
    • Liberté Pâtisserie Boulangerie is a famous bakery in Paris. Their Tokyo store is in Kichijōji.
    • A bakery cafe that has deliciously made pastries and bread. Many high-quality ingredients used are from France.
    • The same as the stores in Paris, Liberté Pâtisserie Boulangerie Tokyo Kichijōji also has an open kitchen where you can see all the action happening.
    • Tarte Tatin (タルトタタン) is one of the most popular tarts that is often sold out by noon. It uses an entire apple to make the pastry.
    • The first floor is its cake and bread takeaway shop. The cafe space is on the second floor.
    • The bread purchased from the takeaway shop can be eaten at the cafe from 9 am to 7 pm.
      • If you want to eat the cake in the cafe, please order it at the cafe instead of buying it from the store and bringing it upstairs.
    • Vegetable/Fish/Meat Plate with unlimited hard bread slices are available from 11 a to 7 pm.
      • The last order is taken at 5 pm.
  • Koppepan no Tajima Kichijōji (コッペの田島 吉祥寺店)
    • As its name suggested, it is a Koppepan specialist. Koppepan is a bread roll that has various fillings inside. The ones sold here are around 18cm long.
    • There are more than 30 flavors on the menu, including sweet, savory, and the ones that are deep fried. The bread rolls are all freshly made each morning.
    • The most popular sweet flavor is Red Bean Paste and Margarine (つぶあん・マーガリン).
    • The dine-in space of Koppepan no Tajima on the second floor is unique. It bears a similar appearance to a Japanese school.

Restaurants

  • Little Spice (カレー食堂 リトルスパイス)
    • For curry rice, visit Little Spice. The curry here is cooked from various spices. Although the menu is simple, each curry is cooked using different spices and ingredients.
    • The Lentil Vegetable Curry (レンズ豆のベジタブルカレー) contains only tomato, spinach and mushrooms.
  • Pizzeria GG (ピッツェリアGG 吉祥寺)
    • A pizzeria selling authentic Napoli Pizza.
    • The margherita pizza here has won the first place in Japan’s margherita pizza competition. The mozzarella cheese on the pizza is really tasty and stretchy.
    • The crust is delicious that those who usually leave it will finish the crust, too.
    • Their panacotta is amazing as well.
    • Remember to let the staff know if you need your pizza cut.
    • The restaurant is close to Inokashira Park.
  • SITAL Kichijoji Main Store (インド料理シタル 吉祥寺本店)
    • A northern Indian restaurant that uses more than 50 kinds of spices. The chef used to work in an Indian hotel, so his Indian cuisine is authentic and incredible.
    • Vegetarian curry available.
    • There are five curry spicy levels to choose from.
    • Try their naan range. Each of them is properly made so that it is chewy. If you choose a flavored naan, such as cheese naan, you will be surprised by the amount of filling the bread contains.
    • The mango lassi is a nice finish for the meal.

Shops

  • Tsumikusa (器と道具 つみ草)
    • You will find a wide range of elegant-looking useful handmade kitchen utensils and foodware here. Folk toys are also on the shelf.
    • The owner, Kobayashi-san, visit the craftsman across the country. Whether they are famous or unknown, as long as their work catches the owner’s eye, he will purchase the products and sell them at Tsumikusa. Because none of them are mass-production products, each of them is unique.
    • If you understand Japanese, listening to Kobayashi-san’s detailed explanation of the story behind each craftwork will be very interesting.

Discover Tokyo’s Transportation Tickets That Can Save You Money

Now that you know more about Tokyo’s train system, the next step in your planning is probably finding out if there is a discounted transportation pass that will help save you money.

So refer to our Guide to Tokyo’s Transportation Passes for a list of tickets that can be used in Tokyo and/or the surrounding tourist destinations!

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Click the photo for more information about the useful transportation passes that might suit your itinerary!

Getting a Better Understanding of Tokyo’s Train System

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Click the photo for a guide to Tokyo’s Train System!

If you had a chance to look at Tokyo’s train map, you might be startled at first glance. With so many train companies owning train lines and stations in Tokyo, the city’s train map can be confusing and complicated to many tourists.

So if you want to gain a better understanding of Tokyo’s train system, refer to our Guide to Tokyo’s Transportation System and Train Routes!

Where to Stay in Tokyo? The Safer Areas With Easy Access to Transportation

If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, you probably have a couple of places you want to visit, but which ward/area in Tokyo should you stay in? Is there an area safer than others? Does the hotel you are looking to book have easy access to transportation?

If you have the above questions, refer to our Where to Stay in Tokyo article for answers!

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Click the photo to find out more about each part of Tokyo’s city center!

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