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Kichijoji

K intro

 

So much for two posts in one week. We had to move apartments. Then it was all rainy. Plus hours seem to fly by just trying to work out where to next after Tokyo. But my biggest problem was it just felt cheap. I’m not good at lite it seems. It’s gotta be 52 Suburbs heavy or nuttin’.

And so, to this week’s suburb (apparently it actually is considered a suburb), Kichijoji. 20 minutes west of the city centre and quite different to any area so far. While it has the usual crowd of izakaya – bars with food – it also has a lovely park with a pond (more lake than pond really). Oh, and love hotels too but I missed those completely.

I couldn’t find out much about the suburb’s history so let’s go Kichijoji!

 

Part 1: Arriving at Kichijoji Station

As soon as we stepped out at the station we met Torame and Ken, two young musicians from a band called The Tokyo Numbers. As far as I could understand they were in Kichijoji for a gig at one of the many ‘live houses’ – clubs – around the station. Seeing as ‘old’ Japan with its kimonos and wooden houses have been my main focus to date, it was refreshing to photograph a younger face of Tokyo.

 

 

Torame and Ken from The Tokyo Numbers

Torame and Ken from The Tokyo Numbers

 

 

 

 

Ken

Ken

 

 

 

 

music and love :: 1

music and love :: 1

 

 

 

 

music and love :: 2

music and love :: 2

 

 

 

 

leopard and tiger spotted in Kichijoji

leopard and tiger spotted in Kichijoji

 

 

 

 

lips the colour of Japanese Maple

lips the colour of Japanese Maple

 

 

 

 

and then they were gone

and then they were gone

 

 

 

 

No sooner had I said sayonara to Torame and Ken than this guy appeared. Didn’t catch his name but I know who his favourite band is.

 

 

Kinks fan :: 1

Kinks fan :: 1

 

 

 

 

Kinks fan :: 2

Kinks fan :: 2

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Inokashira Park

As I said, one of the things that distinguishes Kichijoji is its park and ‘pond’. A perfect excuse to indulge my addiction to kimonos, carp and Maple trees all in one go. Here, finally, I found my autumn leaves; I can’t imagine how wonderful Japan must look in spring but autumn leaf viewing – Momiji-gari – is pretty special too.

 

 

park and pond

park and pond

 

 

 

 

floating world :: 1

floating world :: 1

 

 

 

 

floating world :: 2

floating world :: 2

 

 

 

 

nature inspired :: 1

nature inspired :: 1

 

 

 

 

nature inspired :: 2

nature inspired :: 2

 

 

 

 

nature inspired :: 3

nature inspired :: 3

 

 

 

 

nature inspired :: 4

nature inspired :: 4

 

 

 

 

row boat or swan, take your pick

row boat or swan, take your pick

 

 

 

 

boy in blue

boy in blue

 

 

 

 

pastels

pastels :: 1

 

 

 

 

pastels :: 2

pastels :: 2

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Eat street

Like most of Tokyo, Kichijoji spills over with eating options. But Harmonica Yokocho, a rabbit warren of alleys lined with tachinomiya (standing only) bars and tiny restaurants, some of which have been around for 60 odd years, seemed a cut above the rest. Wasted on my gluten-adverse self and anything-vaguely-exotic-looking-is-eew daughter but…

 

 

park then dinner down Harmonica Yokocho

park then dinner down Harmonica Yokocho :: 1

 

 

 

 

park then dinner down Harmonica Yokocho :: 2

park then dinner down Harmonica Yokocho :: 2

 

 

 

 

too much sake? take a taxi home

too much sake? take a taxi home

 

 

 

 

The eateries are all tiny so often there’s a queue. But unlike me, the Japanese don’t seem to mind a queue.

 

 

queue No 1 - the slurpy noodles place :: 1

queue No 1 – the slurpy noodles place :: 1

 

 

 

 

queue No 1 - the slurpy noodles place :: 2

queue No 1 – the slurpy noodles place :: 2

 

 

 

 

queue No 1 - the slurpy noodles place :: 3

queue No 1 – the slurpy noodles place :: 3

 

 

 

 

Still, as I say to Coco, a queue is always a good sign – especially when it’s pretty much a permanent one that snakes around the block from sunrise to sunset like the one at Satou Steakhouse Butchers, right next door to Harmonica Yokocho. The reason? A humble but obviously addictive little number called menchi katsu – breaded and deep-fried ground meat croquettes.

 

 

queue No 2 - for menchi katsu from Satou

queue No 2 – for menchi katsu from Satou

 

 

 

 

worth the wait - Yuriko with her menchi katsu

worth the wait – Yuriko with her menchi katsu

 

 

 

 

One place that didn’t have a queue but I liked the look of anyway…

 

 

no queue at Quina

no queue at Quina

 

 

 

 

I would love to have taken a look at the ‘love hotels’ or found a seedier side of Kichijoji for a glimpse into Tokyo’s infamous dark underbelly. But what with missy by my side and the fact that in the land of the rising sun, the sun sets way too early for my liking in winter (5pm), it didn’t happen. I can only imagine…

 

 

as the sun goes down in Kichijoji, the bars start to fill

night falls – and then what?

 

 

 

 

Part 4: Praying for good fortune

By sheer good fortune we visited Kichijoji’s Shinto shrine on the day when the Japanese visit it – to assure their own good fortune.

Called Tori no Ichi, it’s a festival where people buy a decorated bamboo rake called a kumade to ‘rake in’ good fortune in the coming year.

Very colourful but the best bit was meeting a woman who has 100 kimonos in her wardrobe. 100! Whenever I meet a kimono wearer, I ask, when and why do you wear a kimono. Well, Misato wears hers six days a week. She owns a restaurant where she works all week long, bar one day. On that day she wears normal gear but aside from that it’s the kimono. We tried to work out how I could photograph her bountiful wardrobe – she also has 40+ pairs of tabi socks – but it was too hard. And really, even for me, 100 kimonos would be overkill.

 

 

buying hope - Misato with her kumade at the shrine

buying hope – Misato with her kumade at the shrine

 

 

 

 

one of Misato's 100 kimonos

one of Misato’s 100 kimonos

 

 

 

 

The festival was another great example of how in high-tech, high-speed, high-living Tokyo, they take their superstitions very seriously…

 

 

the whole office came down to choose their kumade

the whole office came down to choose their kumade

 

 

 

 

Other randomness at Musashino Hachimangu Shinto Shrine that day…

 

 

red and green

red and green

 

 

 

 

dressed for the occasion

dressed for the occasion

 

 

 

 

dash of red

dash of red

 

 

 

 

Of course, it’s not only businesses that are in need of good fortune. All those hungry looking carp down in the lake could do with some too…

 

 

in need of a little good fortune too

in need of a little good fortune too

 

 

 

 

The Wrap

Like Shimokitazawa, Kichijoji is a highly sought after area in Tokyo. And you can see why – the park, the lake. The menchi katsu. But what I loved most was meeting Torame and Ken on the station platform. The sun, their energy, Ken’s hair. A younger Tokyo. Next week I hope to find more.

 

 

 

leaving our mark on Kichijoji

leaving our mark on Kichijoji

 

 

 

 

On the ‘home front’

Over the last few weeks Coco has been coming up with some pretty creative fashion ideas. Never much of a drawer, she’s sat quietly for hours with her book, illustrating different looks.

Then this week, walking home from the station:

“Mum, this really is an amazing journey. I know who I am now.”

“Really? Who?”

“A fashion designer”.

Huh. I can actually imagine it. Of course she’s only nine. But who knows. She’s got the right name for it.

This suburb has been brought to you by Kate Croucher

See you next week.

 

  1. Vivian says:

    Hi Louise,
    Gorgeous post (as usual) but that last image in particular just made me tear up! You are so lucky to be having this adventure with Coco – one she’ll always remember. Loving your work, Vivian.xxx

  2. Jenny Bosse says:

    Thank you for giving me such pleasure. I haven’t read and looked at them since you were in Berlin. So, it was great to catch up again. So so beautiful. I love your commentaries.

  3. ellen says:

    lovely i love the autum leaves and the kimonos amazing so where is your next suburb or country give me a hint hint pls lol

  4. Gaylee says:

    Hi Louise,
    Loved those fishy pics. Tokyo/Japan really fascinating.
    My nephew, fan of all things Japanese, says Chiba out near Narita has lots of ‘old’ Japan, architecture etc.
    Shibuya has amazing street art.

  5. vince hunt says:

    how blessed you are to have each other ,,,,,,,,
    for you Louise to have child who , having absorbed her suburban trawl and at 9 to know who she is, and for Coco to have a mum who really has creative visions and energy to make the ’52’ happen
    what a pair of cool girls !!!!

  6. Fay Thomson says:

    I enjoyed seeing the Japanese woman with the black hair with streaks of grey.

  7. Anna says:

    Arigato for the Japanese journey, we’re loving it.

  8. Louise says:

    Vivian – I got lucky the day Coco was born – she’s always been a most beautiful soul. But yes, this is an amazing experience to share and one that, at nine, she’ll most probably remember.
    Jenny – Welcome back, so happy you’re checking in again.
    Ellen – If I knew I’d tell you! But it’s still eluding me. It must come soon though, time is flying past.
    Gaylee – I know carp are an over-photographed item but I’m in love with them! And thanks for the tip.
    Vince – The moment walking home was really something. Coco’s often saying she wants to be this and that (teacher, chef etc) but this was different. And not that she’ll necessarily stick with the fashion designer thing – in reality I doubt she will. But just that she had a sense of where she was in her life and who she may be. And thank you for your comment about me – very generous.
    Fay – I love that hair too.
    Anna – You’re most welcome!

  9. jann says:

    Thank you for taking me back to Tokyo via these wonderful images, Louise. This is vicarious travel at its very best.

    • Louise says:

      That’s wonderful praise, many thanks Jann!

  10. Fer Buenos Aires says:

    Louise, your work is amazing. I want to be in Tokyo right now! I think Coco is a lucky girl, whatever she choose to be in the future, now is living an experience that she never can forget and no doubt its mark her life. Congratulations! Sorry about my poor english :-)

    • Louise says:

      Please don’t apologise about your English, it’s just fine. So glad you’re enjoying the Tokyo stories. And yes, Coco is indeed very lucky. I wonder how this experience will play out for her as she grows up. I hope I haven’t given her itchy feet for the rest of her life – I’d never see her! Then again, I guess I could tail along too.

  11. Peter says:

    I am happy that you have decided, I think, to keep going with ‘full’ accounts of the suburbs that you encounter! After living in Mexico City for a year I was disappointed that I won’t be able to see your take on it but looking forward to seeing more from Tokyo and wherever you go next in extended form. The diptychs continue to hit the spot. Good luck for the remaining 11!!

    • Louise says:

      I really hope I make it to Mexico City one day too. But glad Tokyo is hitting the spot anyway Peter.

  12. Torame,The Tokyo Numbers says:

    Hello,I’m Torame.Thank you for taking a wonderful photograph! It was impressed very much!!
    the Kinks boy who appears in the photograph is the vocal of my Rock’n’Roll band,The Tokyo numbers.His name is Hayato.Ken and Hayato are also very glad, seeing photographs.
    I met many great Rock’n’Roll friends in Kichijoji. Kichijoji is a warm great town for me!!

    • Louise says:

      I did wonder if you guys knew one another! Thanks so much for checking in here Torame, it was a pleasure to meet you all. I wish The Tokyo Numbers great success – and very glad that Ken and Hayato liked their photos. Rock stars can be hard to please!

  13. fistrel says:

    Lovely, lovely Louise — the ‘nature inspired’ series was, well, inspired! (# 2 especially)
    And the noodle joint — you captured the yummmmm, as those in the queue aspire to.

    • Louise says:

      So glad you felt inspired to comment!

  14. Steve says:

    Hey, if you google “The Tokyo Numbers” (including the quotation marks) this post is the first hit. This could be the start of their fabulous career!

    • Louise says:

      Hope so! The Tokyo Numbers…52…it was meant to be.

  15. Sarah says:

    She’ll remember! (My mum took me to the US for three weeks when I was nine, to visit her sister, and whilst I don’t recall every person we met, and place we stayed, I remember a fair bit – like thinking, ARE YOU SURE that’s my aunt when we were picked up at the airport. That was a scary car ride for me!). And… I also knew about the same age (8-9yo) what I wanted to ‘be’ – it was a pilot, and I’m now an engineer. But I continued wanting to be a pilot til I went to the Defence Force interview and realised I couldn’t commit to ‘their way’. And didn’t have money to go another way. IN any case, mum convinced me engineering was what I would have done at ADFA< and now I'm happy as an engineer! Again lovely post, despite the 5pm sunsets!

    • Louise says:

      How interesting that you knew what you wanted to be at that age. I had no idea for at least another decade after that. And how wonderful the way it turned out. I hope Coco is just as happy with her choices.

  16. mimi says:

    OMG, coco’s words is what makes parenting all worth it!! You know what you did this year was worth it, if nothing else, you brought an amazing educational experience to your daughter that is a lot more valuable than 1 year in school.

    • Louise says:

      I hope I never regret saying this but I agree. It’s hard to measure of course, just a sense that a child’s eyes are opened much wider than they would be in a regular year at home. Time will tell!

  17. Joel says:

    Saw your column in the Herald again today. Been waiting out for it every time… since I first discovered it two months ago. =P Not sure if you’ll ever be ready to say “sayonara” to Japan, though as an alternative, you could always try “mata ne” – “see you again”. =)

    • Louise says:

      I like that much better! A much more hopeful parting.

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