41

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.

 

Order my first book online

Buy the 52 Suburbs Book online

Find out more about the Sydney book here

Sponsors

Advertisers

EnglishItalianChinese (Traditional)GermanFrenchHindiTurkish
Site Meter