Inokashira Park sakura
Photo: Makoto Honda/DreamstimeInokashira Park during cherry blossom season

26 best things to do in Kichijoji: restaurants, cafés, shops and more

Find relaxing cafés, cosy restaurants and the beautiful Inokashira park in this charming Tokyo neighbourhood

Kaila Imada
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If you’re looking to explore further into the Tokyo suburbs, Kichijoji is a great place to start. This chic district in the west of Tokyo may only be 15 minutes by express train from Shibuya or Shinjuku, but it feels far removed from the city centre's frenetic pace.

The neighbourhood is home to countless restaurants, stylish cafés and small boutiques that will keep you occupied for hours on end. There's also the lush Inokashira Park, known for its cute swan boats and gorgeous cherry blossoms. The massive greenspace is also a hop and a skip away from Tokyo’s famous Ghibli Museum – a must-visit for the Ghibli obsessed.

RECOMMENDED: Explore Tokyo's coolest streets

Eat

  • Cafés
  • Kichijoji

This café takes kakigori shaved ice desserts to the next level by covering them in fluffy meringue before lighting them on fire with a flaming concoction of rum. It makes for quite the show-stopping dessert, plus it tastes pretty amazing, too. Flavour combinations range from caramel and strawberries to seasonal varieties such as rum raisins and apples with fresh custard cream and mascarpone cheese. The menu here also features cakes and sandwiches.

  • Cafés
  • Kichijoji

When just any old shaved ice won't do, make way for this eight-seat, counter-only Kichijoji café where the menu changes almost daily. There are countless seasonal offerings, while the regular varieties range from orthodox milk and strawberries to quirky creations like sake kakigori and kakigori combined with fruit jelly. Halloween and Christmas sees both the shop itself and the edibles decorated for the occasion.

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  • Ice-cream parlours
  • Kichijoji

You’ll be hard pressed to find proper frozen yoghurt in Tokyo, but thankfully there’s Wood Berry’s. The froyo shop has two locations in Kichijoji: a small takeaway stand and this larger café with seating. Wood Berry’s frozen yoghurt is made to order, and you’ll get your choice of fruit mixed in with the tangy yoghurt base. There’s always a generous selection of seasonal fruit to choose from, much of it sourced from the shop’s own farm in Yamanashi prefecture. During the warmer months, you can expect to see cherry, lemon, ume plum, watermelon and peach.

  • Kichijoji

This standing udon joint under Kichijoji Station’s train tracks is perfect for a quick and satisfying meal. If you do want to sit down, there are a couple small tables with seats at the far end of the restaurant. But we recommend joining the locals for a quick standing meal while watching the chefs prepare the noodles behind the counter.

Udon can be ordered either as kake in a hot or cold soup, or bukakke with noodles topped in a concentrated hot or cold broth. For an order that packs a punch, the shop’s curry udon is a must-try. 

After ordering from the touch screen machines at the front of the shop, you’ll pass through an assembly line where you hand the chef your order tickets, receive your bowl of udon and then top your noodles with a choice of tempura bits, grated ginger, green onions and dried iriko (small dried anchovies).  

Don’t forget to add a side of freshly deep-fried tempura to your bowl of udon, such as fried shrimp, chicken, chikuwa fish cake and maitake mushrooms. If you want to double up on the carbs, you can even order a mini donburi rice bowl, including a gyudon (beef bowl) or fried chicken bowl. 

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  • Shopping
  • Kichijoji

This family-friendly restaurant and shop is famous for its all-you-can-eat buffets of healthy home-style dishes. The menu changes on a daily basis, but typically features wholesome spreads of tofu patties in daikon sauce, potato salad and stewed cabbage rolls – all made with organic produce. The restaurant is located on the basement level, where you'll also find a small shop selling organic and fair trade products, while the ground floor shop of Crayon House sells children's books and toys. 

The lunch buffet is ¥1,550 for adults and ¥1,320 for children, and the dinner buffet is ¥2,750 for adults and ¥1,375 for children. The menu is meatless on Mondays, with plenty of options for vegans.  

  • Italian
  • Kichijoji
  • price 1 of 4

There’s no better combination than a stroll around leafy Inokashira Park followed by authentic, inexpensive Naples-style pizza at this casual neighbourhood restaurant. You'll find the pizzeria tucked away in a basement just off the main approach to Inokashira Park, with tables arranged so they all have a view of the kitchen and its imposing oven. Prices are reasonable without any obvious recourse to corner-cutting, and you can easily eat for under ¥2,000 a head at dinner.

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  • Japanese
  • Kichijoji

Despite just a curtain separating it from the street, this modern-looking restaurant is surprisingly cosy. There’s a full selection of sashimi, side dishes and sake, which makes Katakuchi an ideal first port of call on a bar crawl through the maze-like alleyways of Harmonica Yokocho. If you’re just looking for a light and quick bite, get the three-piece chef’s choice set.

  • Kichijoji

This small eatery inside Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho serves up Okinawan taco rice, which fuses western and Japanese flavours. It was a popular staple for the American military forces who were stationed in Okinawa during the 80s. The dish is simple, consisting of typical taco fillings served on a heap of rice instead of inside a taco shell. Thankfully, at Harmonica Quina the toppings are more inventive than the bog-standard beef, lettuce and cheese – you can add avocado, salsa and even an omelette if you please. The menu also features Okinawa soki soba if you’re in the mood for noodles.

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  • Pizza
  • Kichijoji

For a unique eating-out experience, bypass the generic Italian restaurants and head straight for Garage 50 in Kichijoji, where the pizzas are made fresh to order in a retrofitted VW van. It’s hipster, sure, and you’ll be eating off paper plates while sitting on a stool in a garage, but the pizza is exceptional value at ¥600. You can’t go wrong with the prosciutto topped with a soft egg, or the basil mascarpone.

Drink

  • Cafés
  • Kichijoji

After passing through the tiny front door and climbing up a narrow staircase, you’ll find yourself in a fairytale-like setting with dreamy illustrations of animals and children adorning the walls. The unique artwork in this Kichijoji café was created by Japanese artist duo Marini Monteany.

Of course, the food and drink are a perfect match for such a cute setting. We recommend ordering a caramel or matcha latte, which both feature kawaii latte art motifs. To top it off, pair your drink with a baked chocolate dessert with whipped cream topping featuring another adorable face smiling back at you.

  • Kichijoji

This izakaya bar offers a menu of fun and inventive dishes. We recommend the immensely addictive smoked egg and potato salad, which is served with corned beef and onion chips. Wash it down with the two drinks that share the same name as the bar, such as the Panda Beer or the Panda One Cup (sake) – they both feature cute drawings of the black-and-white bear on the labels.

If you want to make your yen go further, opt for the otsukare set (the name literally translates to ‘thank you for your hard work’): this combo offers you a choice of any drink plus a three-snack set that changes daily. 

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  • Coffeeshops
  • Kichijoji

This charming little café pours a mean cuppa with house-roasted beans, which can also be purchased at the shop. Go for the tasting set if you can’t decide – it features a flight of three different drip coffees. Other menu items include latte and Americano, made with a different espresso bean each day, as well as snacks like toast and puddings.

  • Cafés
  • Kichijoji

If you're looking to grab a drink on the go before heading to Inokashira Park, stop by this café for the real deal. The various tea and chai drinks are rich in aromas, with its 'boiled milk tea' prepared the traditional Indian way. Here, a cup of chai has two teapots' worth of tea leaves, giving the tea a full flavour. Pair your drink with cake, baked samosas or brioche french toast. If you have a sweet tooth, go for the ginger panna cotta or kulfi.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Kichijoji

If well-designed homeware is what you’re after, make a beeline for this zakka lifestyle store. Cinq carries all sorts of tableware and kitchen gear, plus fashionable clothing such as socks and knitwear. It even has its own brand of merchandise that includes metal coffee and tea canisters, cloth aprons and umbrellas. With items sourced from around Europe and Japan, the shop is perfect for a spot of interior inspiration.

  • Shopping
  • Kichijoji

This minimalist outlet only stocks what it calls ‘welfare’ items, or products designed and made by people with disabilities. The items in store, sourced from all around Japan, each have their own charm. Browse through artisanal ceramics and jewellery, children’s toys, hand-woven belts, camera straps and more besides. Many of the products come with a description of their provenance and the artisans who created them.

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  • Kichijoji

Looking like an outlet store, the expansive Sippo will delight bargain hunters with its wide range of reasonably priced goods. The selection may seem random but everything is either made in Japan or features Japanese aesthetics. There’s homeware, fashion, jewellery, accessories, gourmet food items and even antique furnishings. Some of the best deals can be found just outside the entrance, where the shelves stock pre-loved tableware, crockery and pottery items with prices as low as ¥100.

  • Shopping
  • Kichijoji

Situated just off of the popular Nakamichi-dori shopping street, Markus is home to a fine array of Japanese objects of desire sourced from all across the country. The shop owner personally picks out everything in the shop and goes around the country to visit various craftspeople to learn about their unique products. You’ll see that items are categorised by area and artisan, with small descriptions accompanying each and every one.

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  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Kichijoji
Tea Market Gclef
Tea Market Gclef

This Kichijoji tea specialist has been a neighbourhood fixture since 1996, keeping locals well caffeinated with leaves and packaged tea from countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and China. Sampling is allowed, and you're sure to have fun comparing the many seasonal varieties. If your Japanese is up to par, try prodding the staff for further details about the leaves' characteristics, brewing techniques and anything else you've always wanted to know about tea but never had the chance to ask.

  • Shopping
  • Shoes
  • Kichijoji

Rows of colourful, wrapped-up shoes line the walls at this Kichijoji store that offers an exhaustive range of sneakers from the likes of Adidas, Puma, Nike, Admiral, Reebok and Onitsuka Tiger. It deals in everything from the latest models to 'dead stock' while also carrying limited-edition versions – enough to pique the interest of even the most discerning sneakerhead. The store’s Twitter timeline is a must-check, with daily updates on new arrivals. Skit mainly stocks products on a pair-by-pair basis, so if you see something you like in your size, best make a quick decision.

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  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops
  • Kichijoji

An import stationer in Kichijoji, Giovanni feels like a museum of treasures for those excited by 'aristocratic' sealing wax and replicas of medieval astronomy paraphernalia. The shop owner boasts an extensive collection of traditional European stationery – think feather pens, parchments and extremely official-looking seals – and some of the items are only available here (unless you head over to the Old World, of course). Really serious shoppers can try ordering a custom seal stamp.

  • Shopping
  • Kichijoji

Nico is just a few minutes from Kichijoji Station and sells on-trend yet eclectic secondhand clothing from Europe and the US for both men and women. It's perfect for late-night shopping, too, as it’s open till 11pm on weekdays. 

To give you an idea of what you’ll find in store, expect a colourful selection of plaid shirts and vintage college sweat tops, plus frilly blouses and graphic tees. There’s usually a few pairs of vintage Converse and Vans lying around as well.

Do

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Kichijoji

This beautiful Kichijoji park has more than enough to occupy you for an afternoon, including a zoo, a pond with quirky rental boats, and playground facilities to keep the little ones happy. The south side is home to the Ghibli Museum – a must-visit for anime fans – and at weekends the park comes alive with street traders, musicians and artists. In late March and early April, the park fills with people enjoying hanami (cherry-blossom viewing).

  • Art
  • Kichijoji

Hayao Miyazaki’s studio has produced some of Japan’s most popular and complex animation classics, from 'My Neighbour Totoro' to 'Princess Mononoke' and 'Spirited Away'. If you want to learn more about the studio’s work, be warned that gaining access to this museum is quite tough. You need to purchase tickets in advance, then show up at the prescribed day and time with your ticket and some ID.

But once you're inside you'll be transported into another world. You can view original prints, play in rooms with painted ceilings and walls, and watch short animations in the cinema. The gift shop sells original animation cels, and there's even a Cat Bus that can be ridden by children and adults.

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  • Kichijoji

This charming cat café introduces you to a whole new level of cuteness. Located within the themed shopping and food ‘village’ Kichijouji Petit Mura, the facade looks like the castle of a magical cat­-kingdom straight from a book of fairy tales. A selection of 22 cats are on hand to be cuddled, and offer highly Instagrammable photo opportunities, especially at feeding time. When it comes to snacks, the smart money’s on the tasty parfaits garnished with cute cat­-shaped cookies.

  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Kichijoji

For some relaxing-yet-edifying downtime, head to the trendy Uplink theatre in the basement of Parco Kichijoji for a range of documentaries, independent and art films. Spend some time exploring Uplink before your show, as the space also features an art gallery plus a gift shop with a range of film merchandise. The snacks here go beyond your standard popcorn and soda: settle in with craft beer and cola, house-made ginger ale, hot dogs, cookies and cakes. Check its website for the film schedule.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • Kichijoji

This small, charming Kichijoji workshop offers classes in making small leather goods and brass or silver jewellery to people of varying experience levels. There’s really no set formula here, and the friendly owner will help you craft anything you’re itching to make. If you’re just visiting, you can choose from the ready-made items or have the owner customise something for you on the spot. Cool brass bracelets perfect for stacking and layering are available, as well as a variety of rings, like one made from a brass nail.

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