The best live music venues in Koenji – updated

These live gig venues will keep you rocking, punking and discoing. By Matt Schley
Photo by Matt Schley
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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Koenji, known as a kind of bohemian neighbourhood in which to buy used clothes, visit strange cafés and view the Awa Odori festival once a year, has a long history as one of Tokyo’s focal points for punk, psychedelic and otherwise odd rock. Live venues in Koenji come in all shapes and sizes, from the (relatively) upscale Koenji High, where (relatively) famous bands are known to play a show or two, to Enban, a record store/live house that could cram in about ten people if it really tried. If you’re feeling the itch to visit Koenji, the following venues are not to be missed.

Also see: Best clubs in Tokyo by music genre

Clubs

Knock

icon-location-pin Koenji

Located near the Seiyu supermarket on the south side of Koenji Station, Knock is housed in the underground space previously occupied by club One—in fact, years after taking over, they still haven't gotten around to changing the signboard outside. That's a clue to the general vibe of the venue: hosting events with names like ‘Laid Back Thursday Lounge’, Knock is a chilled-out space where DJs spin vaporwave, dub, house and other slow tunes, with occasional live acts kicking up the tempo a notch. Knock is generally known as reliable and reasonably-priced place to grab some after-work drinks and discover leftfield electronic music.

Music, Music venues

BnA Hotel Koenji

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This quirky space on the north side of Koenji Station has been steadily gaining attention since it opened back in 2016. Known first and foremost as a hotel with rooms designed by local artists (BnA stands for ‘Bed and Art’), BnA also hosts frequent music events. The front deck/bar on the first floor is equipped with turntables, where local DJs, artists and other Koenjiites can regularly be spotted spinning tunes – while surrounded by local art projects. The basement, meanwhile, is home to another tiny gallery space that somehow manages to squeeze in live bands on the regular. Talk about up close and personal.

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SUBstore Tokyo
Photo: fb.com/substore.tokyo01
Music, Music venues

SUBstore Tokyo

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The Tokyo branch of a group of music-centric cafés in Indonesia, SUBstore's brand of Southeast Asian cool found the perfect home in Koenji when it opened up in 2016. Located in a building just off the promenade under the rails, SUBstore is a blend of everything you come to Koenji for in the first place: it's a record store, bookstore, coffee shop, bar and live venue all rolled into one. Oh, and don't forget the authentic Indonesian cuisine courtesy of co-owner Andhika Faisal.  The space hosts both DJ nights and live acts from within and outside Japan, and, along with BnA, has quickly become one of the prime spots in Koenji for tourists and other expats to mingle with music-loving locals.

20,000 Den-Atsu | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Matt Schley
Music

20,000 Den-Atsu

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The largest venue on this list, 20,000 Den-Atsu is the reincarnation of one of Koenji’s most famous venues, 20,000 Volt, which was shut down in 2009 after the izakaya above it burnt down. The staff of 20,000 V opened Den-Atsu just a few minutes away near Higashi-Koenji station and (re)established the venue as a premier destination for punk, noise and hardcore bands. The sound system is nice and beefy, the floor is large (by Koenji standards, at least) and there’s a soundproof door between the main stage and the well-stocked bar, so your ears can take refuge between bands.
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Muryoku Muzenji | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Matt Schley
Music

Muryoku Muzenji

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Wow! You may find yourself thinking upon entering Muryoku Muzenji: whoever owns this place really likes cats. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. The entire venue is plastered with feline photographs, illustrations, collages and other art. It almost feels like it’s a place for cat worship first, live house second. Muzenji is home to some of Koenji’s stranger gigs – don’t expect bands concerned with such silly concepts as rhythm or tuning. Seriously though, Muzenji’s been home to some pretty mind-blowing noise gigs, and the decor definitely adds to the trippiness. Oh, and don’t worry if you feel the floor buckle under your feet. After all, it hasn’t collapsed yet.
Sound Studio Dom | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Matt Schley
Music

Sound Studio Dom

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Not strictly a live house, Dom generally serves as a practice space for misfit musicians of all stripes. But its soundproof studios are often rented out for performances, including a weekly jazz session. The multi-room setup is perfect for gigs with multiple bands, and once in a while they’ll even open up the rooftop for barbecues. Especially attractive for budget-conscious gig-goers is Dom’s bring-your-own-drink policy (though they also sell beer for a reasonable ¥300), making Dom shows some of the cheapest out there. 
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Koenji High | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Matt Schley
Music

Koenji High

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Not far from the temple from which Koenji takes its name, Koenji High is probably the least grungy venue on this list (whether that’s a good thing is a matter of personal taste). It’s a go-to performance space for both local indie and electropop acts. In fact, Koenji High is probably best known overseas – if it's known at all – as the host of the Tokyo Blip Festival, an international event devoted to lo-fi, video game-inspired chiptunes. The 2010 Koenji High show featured a live set by none other than Hirokazu 'Hip' Tanaka, who wrote the music for Nintendo games such as Metroid and Donkey Kong Jr. Um, awesome? Attached to Koenji High you’ll also find Amp Cafe, a chillout space that hosts local artists’ work and its own occasional mini live shows.

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