Kichijoji is one of the most sought-after living locations in Japan. Just 20 minutes out of Tokyo from both Shibuya and Shinjuku stations and with plenty of originality and kookiness to offer, it`s no wonder Kichijoji a big hit with Japanese university students and young working couples. However, perhaps the thing that `seals the deal` and makes Kichijoji a fantastic place to visit or live is its collection of weird and wonderful cafes.
Cafes in Japan are as much about the space, the vibe and the `coolness` factor as what food and drink
they sell. We`ve all seen Japanese students huddled over their books or laptops in cafes before – nothing
new here. Often in groups, they buy a few soft drinks and then settle down for the day to study,
preferably in the coolest café in town. Kichijoji is full of such cafes, and seeing people queuing outside in the rain to get into them is not an uncommon sight.
One of the most uncommon cafes is the Café Zenon, about a minute`s walk from the north exit of
Kichijoji station. Manga cafes can be found in pretty much every town in Japan. Usually they are tiny
places on the 2nd floor of a dodgy-looking building where you pay an hourly fee to sit in a chair and –
you guessed it – read manga. However, Café Zenon is a manga café with a twist. Unlike these
stereotypical manga cafes (`manga-kissa`), it is an actual café, and we mean with tables, good food,
room to stretch your feet, and have a chat with friends. The woody interior decor and the high ceilings
plus the range of mange available and the fact that you can sit with your friends and study makes this
one of the coolest and most popular cafes in Kichijoji.
Address : 2-11-3 Kichijōji-Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://www.cafe-zenon.jp/
If you`re looking for something even more different, head back towards the station, under the tracks and
you might be lucky enough to find the popular `Hammock Café`. That`s right – you get to sit in a
hammock while you enjoy your meal. No joke. This is one of the stores where the lines are long for lunch,
so try to arrive early or be prepared to wait. The street that the hammock café is located on is even so
cool that it has been used for filming Japanese television dramas.
Address : 2-8-1 Kichijōji-Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://mahikamano.com/
Down the same street as the Hammock Café there are two other interesting cafes – World Kitchen Baobab
Kichijoji (this is only open for dinner 6.00 p.m. to 1.00 a.m.) and a small Italian Cafe. Baobab specializes in South American, African, Asian, Caribbean food and music but also has dishes from Turkey, Jamaica and Spain, and has 1-2 live music events with performers from all over the world per month. The other café, just across the street past the Hammock Café, offers you great Italian food in a cute vine-covered café which could have been taken right out of a storybook.
World Kitchen Baobab
Address : Ohara Building, 2-4-6 Kichijōji-Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://wk-baobab.com/
If these awesome cafes still aren`t hitting your buttons, head back to the station and down to the basement floor. This is a department store under the station called Atre, and has a huge amount of delicatessen food stores from meats and cheese (we all know how hard it is to find cheese other than cheddar in Japan) to cakes, coffee beans, ramen, kimchi, and so on. Buy at least one slice of cake, a shu-curiimu (choux cream bun), or one of the unique ice-cream flavours on offer and walk around for a while. Guaranteed there are foods there you`ve never seen before. However, because these are high-quality foods, be prepared to pay slightly more (or in some cases, a lot more) than your average supermarket price for goods that look similar.
In this underground shopping mall there is one café that stands out – Aoyama Flower Market Tea House.
This small café has been designed to – you guessed it – look like a greenhouse. Despite being inside a shopping mall, you are surrounded by greenery and woody colours. This unique theme makes the Tea House a popular date spot, and get this – there`s currently a deal on where if you order one take out drink you get a free flower. So. Awesome. While the meals aren`t huge, you`re there for the tea and atmosphere – it is a tea house after all. You can also find Aoyama Flower Market Tea Houses in Aoyama and Akasaka.
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
Address : Atre Kichijoji B1F, 1-1-24 Kichijōji-Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://www.afm-teahouse.com/open/
Right near the Flower Market is a vegetarian deli/supermarket which is great for all your tofu, salad, and other veggie needs. For a sit-down veggie meal instead of take-out, why not try out Monk`s Foods down Koen-dori, near the south exit of the station, where they sell a few meat dishes as well for your non-vegetarian friends. Alternatively, Deva Deva Café, maybe a ten minute walk from the north exit of the station, is the place to go for gourmet vegetarian food. Its prices are a little higher, and it is also a little difficult to find, but well worth it. By the way, there`s also a Freshness Burger near Inokashira Park which allows you to take your pets in. Just saying.
Address : 1-2-4 Gotenyama, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://monksfoods.seesaa.net/
Deva Deva Café
Address : 2-14-7 Kichijōji-Honchō, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Website : http://www.devadevacafe.com/
The next time you`re near Kichijoji make sure to drop by for some great food and kooky café hunting!