Category Archives: East of Tachikawa

Wabist, Japanese gift shop

The Ebisu station along the Yamanote line is known as a beautiful illumination spot called Yebisu Garden Place in December. There is also a famous museum for Yebisu beer there. When you visit the place, there is a unique Japanese gift store you should check out.

Wabist is a shop that is a little off the beaten path featuring all items made in Japan at all different prices. As they introduce some products on its website, many items are made by skilled craftsmen.

A lot of fun items you don’t see everywhere. Great for gifts to send home or to friends/family. – Jennifer McCarthy, December 2016 

Gift Shop Wabist :
Hours: 1 0am – 7 pm on weekdays, 12 pm-6 pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday and Japanese Holidays
Directions: To Ebisu station, take Ome/Chuo Line to Shinjuku and then take Yamanote Line towards Shibuya, Shinagawa. Ebisu is 4 stops away from Shinjuku. From the east exit, it is around a 5 min walk.

Ao no Doukutsu, Yoyogi Park Illumination


This beautiful illumination is called “Ao no Doukutsu”, meaning Blue Grotto, was in Nakameguro in 2014. It has relocated to Yoyogi park this year (2016).
The illumination runs from November 22nd through January 9th. I didn’t have a chance to go to the Nakameguro Illumination, but I’ve heard they moved the illumination in favor of the much wider street of Yoyogi park.

The Illumination starts on Shibuya Koen Dori (Shibuya park street) and those Japanese Zelkova trees were lit up for your 750 m walk. I recommend stopping by there when you are in the downtown Tokyo area. Check out the Illumination website to see the video for directions. – Mai Takahashi, December 2016

Ao no Doukutsu, Shibuya :
Illumination time in 2016: 5 pm – 11 pm, November 22nd – January 9th  (the illumination starts at 7 pm on November 23rd, December 4th, December 25th, and January 9th)

To get to the illumination spot, the closest station is Shibuya. The street is on the opposite side of Meji Shrine in Yoyogi park, so make sure to get off at Shibuya Station, not Harajuku station.
To Shibuya station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, and then transfer to Yamanote line towards Shibuya and Shinagawa.
From Shibuya station, exit from Hachiko exit and then cross the famous crowded intersection. And then take the street that is to the right of the building that is all glass and has a large tv display. You will see a Starbucks and TSUTAYA video store in this building. Keep walking until you see the blue lights on the trees.
img_2421Once you find the blue trees, follow them to Yoyogi park.

Art Aquarium, Nihonbashi Tokyo


IMG_8436Summer is one of the most exciting times of the year throughout Japan. As the temperature and humidity increase, excitements of the summer increase, and there are many summer events going on in our neighborhoods.
Art Aquarium is a seasonal aquarium that opens during the summer, and it is an art exhibit with living kingyo (goldfish). The theme of this year’s Nihonbashi Art Aquarium is the Edo period of Japan, during which the Kingyo culture spread among townspeople. More information on the exhibit can be found here.

IMG_8265The exhibit takes place in Coredo Muromachi, which is a shopping complex where there is fine dining, food stores and more. There are three Coredo Muromachi buildings and the Art Aquarium is located in Building 1. The entrance is on the 4th floor. There is a summer event called “Eco Edo Nihonbashi 2016” around the neighborhood and the Art Aquarium is part of the seasonal celebration. The streets are decorated by lanterns and if I describe the atmosphere, I would say it’s an elegant Japanese old town. Check their Facebook page for more info.

IMG_8329The aquarium exhibits were very unique. There were many kinds of Kingyo. I was impressed by the wide variety of Kingyo that I had never seen. Each exhibit was very arty, and it was a cultural experience of Ryo of Kingyo, enjoying the refreshing coolness by looking at Kingyo swim. The exhibit room is not so big; I would say 30min to 1 hr is enough time to look around.

IMG_8296Starting from 7pm, the Art Aquarium turns into the “Night Aquarium” during which they start serving alcohol and you can walk around the room with your drink. We arrived there around 6:30pm on Sunday, and I saw several families with small children. After 7pm, there were mostly adults. There are special nights with DJ performances on weekends. Check their website for the event schedule because you may need a special ticket to get in on those nights. When you plan your visit, try to avoid the weekends. They limit number of entrances once it gets crowded. According to their Twitter, Saturday is usually very busy and there might be a 30min wait. I heard it’s less crowded in September. If you are going to Tokyo area during the summer, I recommend stopping by the Art Aquarium to enjoy goldfish, symbolic of Japanese summer. – Mai Takahashi, July 2016

Art Aquarium:
Coredo Muromachi:
Art Aquarium Hours:  July 18th-September 25th, (the dates may differ every year) 11:00am – 11:30pm (Night Aquarium starts at 7:00pm)
Admission: Y1000 for adults, Y600 for elementary school age and under, and free for 3 years old and under. (Children must be accompanied by adults.)

Directions: Mitsukoshi-mae station on Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line/ Ginza Line is the closest station, but from Fussa, getting off at the Tokyo station is the easiest.  To get to the Tokyo station from Fussa, take Ome/Chuo line all the way to the Tokyo station. I love returning from the Tokyo station. Since the station is the first and the last stop of Chuo line, there is a great chance that you can sit all the way from Tokyo station to Fussa. From Tokyo station, exit from Nihonbashi exit or Yaesu North exit. It’s about a 15 min walk.

Tokyo Tower, The Milky Way Illumination

IMG_8175If you are planning on visiting Tokyo Tower, I recommend going there during the summer. There are “Tanabata”(Star Festival) themed decorations called the “Milky Way Illumination” which represents “the night sky of summer where the Milky Way is visible”. The interior sky (ceiling) is filled with blue stars (lights) on the main observatory floor. My husband and I reached the main observatory right before the sunset. Since it was a weekday, there was no waiting time to get up to the main observatory floor and the floor was almost empty.

IMG_8163We decided to wait for the sunset at a small cafe on the main observatory floor. The cafe offers light meals and drinks such as sandwiches, fries, ice cream and drinks. The floor got busy as the sun went down. The view of the city turning its color was very pretty and the floor gradually turned blue, thanks to the stars.

IMG_8136After the sunset, the room was completely blue and the atmosphere was very romantic.  There is a DJ booth on the same floor and the performer differs by the day of the week. We missed it, but there is projection mapping on the second floor of the main observatory. The outside staircase to the main observatory is also decorated with blue lights, but we could not climb the stairs due to the weather.

IMG_8205If you are a fan of manga/anime called “ONE PIECE”, there is a themed park on 3rd, 4th and 5th floor of the building below the tower called “Foot Town”. Also, there will be a haunted house on the basement starting July 15 through September 4th (the dates may differ every year). Hours for the haunted house: 12pm to 9pm, Y800 for junior high school students and above and Y500 for 4 years old up to junior high school students). If those brave souls visit there, please let us know how it was. – Mai Takahashi, July 2016

Read more about the Tokyo Tower from previous posts  here.

Tokyo Tower The Milky Way Illumination 2016: June 1st to August 31st
Tokyo Tower Website
Tokyo ONE PIECE Tower:
Hours: 9 am to 11 pm (last entry 10:30 pm)
Admission to the main observatory (150m high): Y900 for high school students and above, Y500 for junior high school and elementary school students, and Y400 for  children between 4 years old and before elementary school age.
Special observatory(250m): Y700 for adults, Y500 for junior high school students to elementary school students, Y400 for children between 4 years old and elementary school age.
Directions: In my opinion, the easiest way to get to Tokyo Tower from Fussa is take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku and transfer to Oedo line(subway) and then get off at Akabanebashi. From the Akabanebashi exit, you’ll see the tower in front of you. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from the station.

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant

IMG_7154If you are looking for a unique Japanese restaurant to take your family, guests or friends, Ninja Akasaka will not disappoint you! It is a ninja-themed restaurant where you can enjoy delicious food in a ninja’s secret lair. The restaurant is located in the corner of Akasaka Tokyu Plaza where many boutiques and restaurants reside. When we arrived at the restaurant, most of the shops at the plaza were closed since it was past their normal business hours, but it seemed like it was a nicer place than a regular shopping mall. It might be hard to find the restaurant since the outside of the restaurant is all black, but it is perfect for a ninja’s secret base.

IMG_7153Your ninja experience starts from the entrance. I don’t want to ruin your experience by spoiling it too much, because I think you’ll enjoy this place more when you don’t know what will happen next. From the entrance, a ninja (waiter) took us to our hideout (table).  The inside of the hideout was dim and the ceiling was lowered in some-parts, just as I had always imagined a ninja’s place to be. The service from the ninjas was great. The ninja were well trained and they spoke very good English. Since it is more of a  fancy restaurant, the menu price is a little spendy. We went there with a group of ten people, so we had to order from the course menu.IMG_7138

There are several course options you can choose from; course menu price starts at Y4,500 and up. It does not include tax and drinks. I had the Y5,700 course with drinks; I think I spent about Y8,000. If you go with seven people or less, you can order from the regular menu. Although it was expensive dining, I was very satisfied with the food, service, and the “entertainment”.IMG_7149

The restaurant offers a kids menu and family friendly hours. Make sure to make a reservation since this place always seems busy. If you are going there for a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc), don’t forget to let them know because they might celebrate it in the ninja way. For more details and pictures, check out their website. I highly recommend this place especially when you have someone visiting because you can take them somewhere unique. – Mai Takahashi, June 2016

Phone: 03-5157-3936
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-2am, Sunday and Holidays 5pm-11pm
Directions: It is 3 min walk from Akasakamitsuke station on Ginza and Marunouchi line. To Akasakamitsuke station from Fussa, take Ome/Chuo line to Yotsuya and then transfer to Marunouchi line. It’s one stop away from Yotsuya station.

Pepacafe Forest, Thai and Asian Cuisine

IMG_6548Kichijoji is one of my favorite Tokyo neighborhood’s where you can find many cute cafes, small/big businesses, and casual/fancy bars. The neighborhood is also known as one of the most desired places to live in the Kanto region. I enjoy taking a walk at Inokashira-park, famous for cherry blossoms during the Sakura season. There is a shrine, zoo, and a lake which you can even ride a swan boat. There is an art market during the weekend (usually starts at 9am) and you might encounter some puppet performers, magicians, or simply people playing their musical instruments. It’s a popular spot to get out especially on a sunny day.

There are a few cafes in the park and Pepacafe Forest is a casual Thai restaurant which is perfect for a family, a couple, or a group of friends.IMG_6549

If you like Thai food, this place is a must try! If you are not a fan of Thai food, you can still enjoy their drinks and desserts. I visited with my sister on a weekday for lunch. I had a lunch plate for ¥1100 (without tax).IMG_6551

I also visited on a weekend for a piece of cake and a drink (they have wine, beer, and cocktails.) The restaurant is spacious and I love how it’s surrounded by nature. You’ll have a view of the park if you get a window seat. I saw some families with little ones with high chairs available. The menu is listed in Japanese and English. I recommend going there during the weekdays since it could get very busy during the weekend. If you see people sitting on chairs right outside the restaurant, that means they are waiting in line, so you can sit next in line and wait. If the line is not so bad, I think it’s worth a try. – Mai Takahashi May 2016
Read more about Kichijoji neighborhood from past posts from here: Kichijoji

HOURS: Mon-Fri 12:00pm-10:00pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am – 10:00pm
PHONE: 0422-42-7081

GENERAL TRAIN DIRECTIONS to Kichijoji station: Take the Ome Line from Fussa to Tachikawa, then transfer to a Tokyo-bound Chuo line train and get off at Kichijoji. If you catch a rapid train from Fussa, you will not have to transfer at Tachikawa. Just stay on the train. Note that the special rapid doesn’t stop in Kichijoji, so if you’re on one, get off at Mitaka and take the next train.

To Pepacafe restaurant from Kichijoji station:

Exit through the Park Exit.

After going down the stairs/escalators after the exit, you’ll cross a road and keep going straight.

You’ll see a bigger street (called Inokashira street) and Marui department store in front of you (keep an eye out for “OIOI” (Marui) sign).

You’ll cross the Inokashira street and walk down the street to the right side of the Marui department store.

Keep going down the street and you’ll reach Inokashira park.

After entering the park, keep going straight and cross the bridge. Then you’ll see the boat pier on your left.

Pass the boat pier and keep going straight and you’ll see the restaurant.


“The Dirty Dish”

In talking with friends, one told me of a place in Tokyo called The Dirty Dish.  It was supposedly a large Japanese dishware store.  I googled the name and found a few write ups on some blogs, one of which had a phone number I could use to look the place up on the map.  The google street view of the location matched one of the pictures on the blog entry, so I decided to go check the place out.  The actual Japanese name of the store is not known, but the gaijin name of The Dirty Dish stuck due to the warehouse style set up of the store.  It is located about a 90 minute drive or train ride from Yokota in the town of Kawasaki.  If you drive, there are two pay parking lots around the corner from the store that max out at 900 yen, so parking is reasonable.  If you take the train, google maps estimates about a 15-20 minute (1.2km) walk to th store from Musashi-Nakahara Station.  It definitely looks like a warehouse from the street.
And inside there are racks and racks of dishes.  Cups, mugs, plates, bowls, tea pots, and etceteras of every shape, size, color, and pattern.  There isn’t just blue and white pattern.
The day I went everything was 40% off the sticker price, but I’m not sure if this is an everyday discount or something that was happening on that day.  Irregardless of the discount, most items are very reasonably priced.  Cash only.  Katie Campbell, April 2016
Phone: 044-488-4888
Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700, closed Sat/Sun & Holidays
Website: (Can switch language to English)
Dierctions: GPS for the store:  35.572669, 139.637653
GPS for the two parking areas (across the street from each other):  35.572210, 139.637007

Studio Ghibli Museum: Mitaka

Studio Ghibli 1-Roxanne R.Located in the small town of Mitaka about 30 minutes from Yokota by train, the Studio Ghibli Museum is a must see for anyone with an interest in art or animation, a love of the studio’s films (such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away), or just a desire to become lost in a fantasy world for a while.

The museum is surrounded by Inokashira Park in Kichijoji (see linked Yokota Travel entries), lending to its magical feel. Inside the museum is a warren of rooms carefully tucked behind archways or beyond tall staircases in such a way as to make you feel like you’re exploring another world. The rooms are filled with beautiful tributes to the studio’s works, including shadowboxes, animation cells, and my personal favorite, a live stop-motion display, achieved by a spinning display under an extremely fast strobe light. The upstairs rooms are made to look like fanciful animators’ workstations, the surfaces cluttered with reference objects and the walls literally papered with original sketches from the studio’s films. Stained glass images, inspired by the studio’s most famous films, provide light in the walkways.

Studio Ghibli 2-Roxanne R.There’s plenty for the kids to do, too. A play area with a fuzzy, near life-sized Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro takes up an entire upstairs room, and a kid-centric house of lenses and illusions currently fills the temporary exhibit area on the second floor (2013). Throughout other parts of the museum, there are plenty of things to peer into and touch. The kids we saw were especially enjoying the working water pump in the outdoor courtyard. The museum also screens animated shorts which can only be seen there, a favorite with the children.

The museum has two stores. One is a “reading room” filled with books recommended by the museum and famous animator Miyazaki, as well as a book of museum photos and its various displays. The other gift shop is full of everything from inexpensive pens and pins, to necklaces and statues costing hundreds of dollars.

Studio Ghibli 4-Roxanne R.Note that photography inside the museum is not allowed, but there are plenty of photo ops outside, so you may want to bring your camera. We enjoyed getting our picture with the giant rooftop robot guardian from Castle in the Sky!

Tickets are ¥1000 per adult, and less in varying age categories for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance at a blue Lawson store. Follow these instructions as the Lawson machines are not in English: Ghibli Museum Ticket Purchase Instructions. Museum entrance times vary and are printed on your ticket. Entrance windows are every two hours from 10:00am-10:30am to 16:00pm-16:30pm, Wednesday through Monday, except during certain holidays. Phone: +81 570-055-777. GPS: 35.696323, 139.571232. Roxanne Ready, July 2013.

DIRECTIONS BY TRAIN: Take the JR Ome Line to Tachikawa, then switch to the JR Chuo Line towards Tokyo. Get off at Mitaka Station, the seventh stop. Then walk from the South exit for 15 minutes along the Tamagawa Josui “Waterworks”, a waterway easy to spot for the extreme overgrowth of greenery surrounding it. Or if you don’t want to walk, take the community bus from Mitaka Station to the museum for ¥300 per adult, half price per child, round-trip.

Irori no Sato – Train Restaurant

train5 by kelly odonnellFor a unique dining experience consider checking out “Irori no Sato” near Kokubunji. Your food is delivered via a steam locomotive to your private dining room! They have a total of 30 private dining rooms; 15 for hori-kotatsu to enjoy fresh sea foods, beef and vegetables that you grill yourself. They also have 15 more private dining rooms for shabushabu, crab sukiyaki and other nabe cooking. These are the rooms where the food is delivered via the train that pulls right up to your table! Since there are only private rooms and no small tables or shared dining room,  it is best to try Irori no Sato when you have a large group – perhaps a going away party, a culture group, relatives visiting from out of town, etc. Children are welcome. I did see several train4 by kelly odonnellJapanese children enjoying the trains. However, unless they are willing to eat the shabu-shabu or rice there may not be too much they would enjoy eating. It is a fun experience for them though. They are open for lunch and dinner. Please note that there are no chairs, everyone eats sitting Japanese style on tatami mats. Also, the grounds itself are gorgeous with waterfalls, koi ponds and beautiful trees. It feels like you are nestled inside a little park. It was like a little oasis.  Average dinner price: 3000, Lunch: 980.  Call to make reservations – usually booked 10 days out.  GPS:  35.718442,139.470815. – Kelly O’Donnell, May 2013
DIRECTIONS: It only took us 20 minutes to drive from Yokota.  It is located off Route 7, heading east from base toward Koganei Park.   Phone: 048-282-2228.  Webpage:

View Larger Map

Koganei Park & The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

koganei park sarah straus 2This park, on Itsukaichi Kaido and just 15.5 km from Yokota, features large grassy fields, deep woods and cherry trees. The best reason to go, though, is the Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-En(Open-Air Architectural Museum). It is a town of relocated buildings from old Tokyo. You can wander inside homes from the samurai period right up to the 20th century. You’ll visit thatched-roof farm Edo tokyo open air Sarah Strauhouses, architects’ homes and sprawling old estate residences, the kind usually only glimpsed by peeking over high walls. There’s a downtown, too, with shops and bars and a bathhouse, all set up as they were in yesteryear. You might want to wear sandals or other slip-on shoes, because you’ll be taking them off every time you poke around one of the old houses. (Admission ¥400 per adult. Children 12 and under are free.). Elsewhere in the park, a 2 km cycling course, with free bikes available for children under 16, is open daily. Some bikes have training wheels and children are welcome to bring their own. There is also a children’s playscape built like a huge pyramid with many ways to go up and down. It is so large, 100 children would easily have room to play. Hours: 9:30-4:30pm; closed Mondays (Tuesdays if Monday is a holiday) and December 28-January 4. Telephone: 042-388-3311
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the East Gate (0km). Turn left at the fourth light, at 1.2km. You are on Itsukaichi Kaido (Route 7). After about 12.5km you will be traveling along a “greenbelt” on your left that appears to have a stream in it. Itsukaichi Kaido takes a jog to the other side of this “greenbelt” in a quick left then right turn (marked in English). At 14.4km, you will cross Koganei Kaido (Rt. 15). Keep driving straight through two more traffic lights, after crossing Koganei Kaido. The park entrance, at the third light, is well-marked and there is a landscaped street on your left. There is ample parking. GPS for park entrance nearest parking lot: 35.7129, 139.5181. The cost to park is about ¥250 an hour.
koganei park sarah strausTRAIN DIRECTIONS: Go to Musashi Konagei station on the Chuo Line toward Tokyo. Take bus #3 and get off at Koganei Koen-Mae (10 minutes by bus, five minutes by taxi).
BIKE DIRECTIONS: A path leads from the Sayama Lake area directly past the north boundary of the park. Nina Carr, 2007. Updated and directions verified in 2011.

View East Gate to Koganei Park (Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum) in a larger map

Comments and photos by Sarah Straus, March 28, 2013 – This is an amazing place!  We went on March 28th and the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum happened to be free!  There were games and crafts for kids, food vendors and a very colorful parade.  It was also a day the cherry trees were in full bloom and the area of the park just in front of the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum was alive with pink.  It makes for a great place to have a picnic and take photos of your children under the cherry blossoms.  We all enjoyed walking through the old buildings, even my 5 and 3 year olds.  They thought it was especially fun to climb into the baths at the Edo period bathhouse.  What a fun day.  We will definately go back with bikes, kites, and ready to play on the large climbing structures.

koganai sarah strausSarah Straus, December, 2013 – We returned to this park in December to let the kids play at the playground.  We found a fun surprise!  Sledding, but without snow.  There is this AstroTurf hillside where kids can sled.  It is free.  Bring your own sled or buy one at a store in the park for ¥1280.  It was really fun!  On this side of the park there is also a bouncy dome, a dog park, and croquet.  Even in the cold of winter a few people were flying kites.  Also, it is possible to rent small bikes with training wheels for kids to ride around the park.


Kichijoji Shopping
Inokashira Park
Restaurants near Kichijoji train station

Kichijoji by Sarah StrausThis area, 40 minutes by train from Fussa, is one of my favorite Tokyo neighborhoods. The atmosphere reminds me a little of New York’s Greenwich Village. I love poking around the maze of tiny lanes that shoot off from the main shopping streets. There are oodles of boutiques, cafes and jazz bars to discover. Kichijoji is no slouch when it comes to major retailers, either. It has Tokyu, Marui, Parco and Atre department stores, plus craft giant Yuzawaya and a most wonderful chain store that defies easy description: LOFT. There is even a Williams-Sonoma on Tokyu’s 7th floor. Another notable is Miuraya, a supermarket specializing in imported food. Kichijoji is also home to Inokashira Park, which has a lake, a zoo and an aviary but is most famous for its cherry blossoms.
A quick orientation to Kichijoji
In the station, follow the signs for the Central Exit. Go through the fare gates and Kichijoji Sarah Strausturn left to exit the building. Now look across the plaza/traffic circle and you will see Sun Road, a long covered street street full of shops. Head for it. At the start of Sun Road, on the right, look carefully to find a tourist information booth. Ask for the Kichijoji Area Map in English to help you get your bearings. Sun Road has a blue-green metal framework overhead. From its entrance you can see another covered shopping street — Daiya Gai — shooting off to the left. In my opinion, it has more interesting shops than Sun Road, and the warren of tiny streets adjacent to it is not to be missed. Tokyu is at the end of Daiya Gai. Behind Tokyu it gets more neighborhood-y. The shops are fewer but more rewarding.
And then there’s the Park Exit of the train station. To be honest, I haven’t made it there yet, but I want to go, if only for the Yuzawaya craft store at Marui. This is from a previous edition of Yokota Travelog:

From the station, exit the Park Exit and walk past the glittering pachinko shops. In less than a minute you will come upon Inokashira- Dori, dominated by the department store Marui. The sign for Marui looks like 0101 (The word maru means circle). There’s also a Body Shop, Subway Sandwiches, and L.L. Bean. Continuing on, you will come upon the Inokashira Park—a great place to take your lunch (see entry in sightseeing section).

Among other features, Kichijoji has an intriguing animation-inspired museum I hope we can review some day:  Ghibli Museum 10am-6pm. Closed Tuesdays. Note: Advance Tickets Only! ¥1000 for adults. 15 minutes walk or 5 minutes by bus from the South Exit of JR Mitaka Station. The West Park of Inokashira Park, 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013 Phone: 057-005-5777

GENERAL TRAIN DIRECTIONS to Kichijoji station: Take the Ome Line from Fussa to Tachikawa, then transfer to a Tokyo-bound Chuo line train and get off at Kichijoji. If you catch a Rapid from Fussa, you will not have to transfer at Tachikawa. Just stay on the train. Note that the Special Rapid doesn’t stop in Kichijoji, so if you’re on one, get off at Mitaka and take the next train. Strangely enough, this turns out to be the fastest way: 32 minutes.  – Liz Ruskin 2010, photos by Sarah Straus, September 2013.

Restaurants near Kichijoji Station

Lobros Café (Formerly Nigiro)
Make plans now to visit this wonderful European café’-style restaurant in nearby Kichijoji. Menus feature fresh salads, homemade soups and bread, enormous sandwiches and pastas. The cuisine is modern, as is the setting. Inokashira Park is within walking distance as are many specialty shops along the neighboring streets. The portions are very large, even by Western standards and are all nicely presented. Lunch sets, which include salad, entrée and coffee or tea, cost ¥1000.  Dinner has a larger menu and is a bit more expensive.
DIRECTIONS:Exit Kichijoji Station via the Park Exit and walk straight (you will cross a small crosswalk) heading towards the Marui (OIOI). After crossing the second crosswalk, turn right (in front of Marui). After passing The Suit Company on your left, make an immediate left on the narrow road, in front of the Shop 99. Lobros is about 80 yards down, on your right-hand side, across from a flower shop. Open daily 11:30am-2pm and 6:30-11p.m.  1-9-6 Minamicho, Kichijoji, Tokyo. Tel.  0422-40-9533. GPS: 35.7017,139.5783. Aggie Pabst and Kate Boyer. Directions updated 2011.

Using the directions above for Kichijoji Station shopping , you can find many delicious eateries, including Denny’s (after the dead-end), Moti Indian Restaurant (past Istean, opposite a game arcade), and Subway Sandwiches (out the Park Exit).

Moti Indian Restaurant offers delicious curry lunch sets for ¥900 with choices from mutton, chicken, vegetable or prawn. A special combination set costs ¥1000. All sets come with nan (bread) or rice and lassi, a yoghurt drink. Other excellent selections include Tandoori Chicken (grilled chicken with butter and spices for ¥1750), Punjabi Tikka (boneless chicken on skewers, ¥l650), Baigan Bharta (roasted eggplant cooked with green peas, tomatoes, onions, ¥1250), Dal Makhani (lentils cooked in milk and butter-¥1200), and Prawn Chili (¥1400). Tea, coffee, juice, soda, beer, whiskey and wine are offered for ¥300-800. Desserts include Ras Jalai (cottage cheese with pistachios for ¥600), Mango Melba (¥500), and vanilla or strawberry ice cream (¥450). Take-out service is available.
DIRECTIONS: Take the train to Tokyo and leave Kichijoji Station through the Central Exit. Walk across the street to Sun Road, a shopping arcade. Walk straight, then take first left and walk straight until you see Isetan, a large department store. Walk towards the Citibank sign, on the right, directly past Isetan. Moti is located just beyond this sign, and across from the Fantasia game arcade. Other Moti restaurants are located in Akasaka and Roppongi. Hours: 11:30am – 11:00pm (last order at 10:00 pm). Telephone? Karen Ozment date?

Kichijoji Shopping

This area has tons of shops, including: Tokyu, Parco Department Store, Williams-Sonoma, Marui department store, Body Shop, L.L. Bean …  If you find one you think we ought to list here, post a comment.

This multi-story shop is a great place to buy a small gift. It’s a drug store! A Kitchijoji by Jenn B 3stationary store! A kitchen store! It has everything but tires, I think. And all of it is uber cool. The paper department has lovely washi and other Japanese traditional arts. See our entry on LOFT in the Shibuya section.
DIRECTIONS: From the central exit of Hachijoji station, look across the plaza to find the opening to Sun Road, an arcaded shopping street. Walk down Sun Road until you reach an intersection with a traffic light. This is Honchoshindo, and it’s at about the mid-point of Sun Road. Turn left on Honchoshindo. Walk past the Coppice department store. Loft is on the left, just before you reach the next traffic light. Hours: 10:30am-8:30pm. (Closing time varies by an hour on certain days.) Tel: 0422-236-210. GPS: 35.7055908, 139.5788847.

This mall is attached to the Kichijoji station and is far more vast than it first appears. The first floor has a beautiful bakery and other eateries. The lower level has a nice cheap thrill, a chain store called Three Coins. Nearly everything in it costs ¥315, but unlike a ¥100 store, this one has a definite “look.” Kind of West Elm but more feminine. Mall hours: 10am-9pm, although some floors close earlier. Tel.: 0422-221-401.

Village Vanguard
This is a book store with lots of toys and miscellany cramming the aisles. It gets rave reviews. It appears to be right next to Tokyu. Details anyone?

Park Exit of the station
Kichjijoji by Jenn B 2The Marui department store is here as is Yuzawaya, a very large craft store that is said to be a good place to buy Japanese souvenirs. Walk straight out of the station for about a minute, past the glittering pachinko parlors, until you reach a main street called Inokashira Dori.  It’s dominated by Marui, so look for the “OIOI” sign. (The word maru means circle). There’s also a Body Shop, Subway Sandwiches, and L.L. Bean. Continuing on, you will come upon the Inokashira Park—a great place to take your lunch.
Liz Ruskin 2010, photos by Jennifer Bobrowski, July 2013

Main Kichijoji page

Jindai Botanical Garden

The Jindai Botanical Garden is worth a visit year-round because it always has flowers in bloom, but the best time to visit is between spring and summer. You can enjoy colorful plum blossoms in late February and early March. In late March and early April, the cherry trees along the parks path make a sakura tunnel of pink blossoms with millions of tiny leaves. At the beginning of April you might find a cherry blossom festival. Pink, red and white roses dominate the garden from late April to May. The park also has a large greenhouse bursting with tropical flowers, including orchids and begonias. Jindai has 100,000 plants with 3500 species. There are many places within the garden for picnics, but there are no food shops. You can find snack concession stands offering ice cream and cold drinks. The Jindai Botanical Garden was established in 1961 and encompasses an area of 356,683 square meters. Entrance fees are ¥500/adult, ¥200 junior high age, and children 12 and under are free. Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, closed Mondays and New Year’s Day. Telephone: 042-483-2300.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: leave from Fussa Station for Tachikawa. At Tachikawa, change to the Nambu line on track for Bubaigawara (this train only goes in 1 direction from Tachikawa). At Bubaigawara, change to the Keio line for Fuchu/Shinjuku (the signs are in English). You can take an express or regular train and get off in Chofu. At Chofu, exit to the North side. You will see the Parco store and bus stops. To exit north, go up the stairs and through the ticket booths— the ticket booths at the bottom of the stairs lead to the South exit. The train fare to Chofu was about ¥420 from Fussa. You will need to take a bus, which will be located in front of the Baskin Robbins on the 1st floor of the Parco building. The bus stop number is 14, the bus number is 34. This bus will be to Jindai-ji, ask before getting on. The bus runs every 20 minutes during the week and more frequently on the weekends. Bus fare is about ¥200. The train takes about 1 hour and the bus ride about 20 minutes.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Take Route 16 to the Chuo expressway. The toll is ¥600 each way. When you get to the Chuo, take the entrance to Shinjuku. Chofu is exit No. 3 and you will see it just after passing the Fuchu racetrack on the left. When you come off exit 3, you will see tollbooths on the right and the road will split. You will need to get into the left lane as you pass the tollbooths. Watch for traffic on the left. You will be taking the split to the left, Chofu/Shinjuku. You will take this ramp and merge with traffic, but stay in the left lane. At the second light, turn left. You will now be on a smaller street, which will go back under the expressway and over a canal. After you cross the canal, you will turn right on the first non-residential street (it will be easy to see). Turn right at the first light. This road will take you past several restaurants and you’ll see many private parking lots to the left. You can park in any of the lots that are not full for about ¥1000. If you want to save a little money, you can use the garden’s parking lot. Instead of turning at the first light, you should turn right at the next light, which will lead you to the garden’s parking lot. It will be on the left hand side a short way down. Driving time takes at least 1 hour, except on the weekends. If you want to go on the weekend, you should leave home before 10:30am. The trip should never take more than 2 hours (unless it is a holiday). You will be able to find the Jindai Garden easily by following the crowds, or asking directions. You will go up a hill where you will pass many street vendors and lots of soba shops. You will also pass Jindai-ji, a very beautiful Buddhist Temple, which is also worth a visit. It only takes about 5 minutes from the parking lot to the gardens. Viki Lyn Paulson-Cody. Driving directions confirmed 2012.

Kichijoji- Inokashira Park

sarah straus inokashira parkInokashira Park is famous for its cherry blossoms and I can see why!  The cherry trees arch high over walk ways around a long, narrow lake and reach out over the water.  However, this is a great place to go any time of year, no need to wait for spring!  Plenty to do here with or without kids.  If you are with older children or with no kids you’ll likely enjoy the shopping and restaurants found near Kichijoji station or in the park.  Couple that with a stroll through the park grounds, to see the shrine and take a row boat out into the lake for a lovely day.  This place is great for young children too!  With our young ones we especially enjoyed taking the swan boat out into the lake and seeing the koi up close (¥700).  They are huge – like little sea monsters and they come begging for crumbs.  They will come right up to you in the boats.  They have signs though about not feeding birds.  There is also a two part zoo – with a smaller part that starts adjacent to the swan boats and a larger part across a pedestrian bridge.   One price pays for both zoos and they are both fun.  The smaller section next to the lake houses birds and a small aquarium.  Inside the aquarium kids are invited to feed and pet some fish in a low, open top fish tank.  Quite the thrill!  The larger zoo has lovely grounds with large trees and places to eat under kiosks and at picnic tables.  In addition to the animals there is a small amusement park designed for little kids in the back, an intriguing sculpture garden and museum with work by Seibo Kitamura, and two playgrounds.  Don’t miss the chance to walk into the squirrel enclosure near the monkeys towards the back of the zoo.  It looks like an aviary, but walk in and see it is filled with active squirrels who run back and forth across the path, play and eat all around.  The park grounds are free while the zoo costs ¥400/adults and ¥150/ages 13-15, kids free.  Zoo hours 9:30am-5pm, closed Mondays and Dec 29-Jan 1.  Phone: 0422-46-1100.  GPS to closest parking lot: 35.699521, 139.570772.  Click here for more on Kichijoji.

sarah straus inokashira parkTRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line to Tachikawa. Transfer to a Tokyo bound train (track 4 or 5) and get off at Kichijoji. Exit through the Park Exit and walk past the Pachinko Shops. In less than a minute, you will come upon Inokashira-Dori, dominated by the department store Marui (OIOI). Take the road to the right of the store into the park.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: While it is a straight shot roughly 20 kilometers down Route 7 to get to Kichijoji it is stoplight traffic the whole way.  On a busy Saturday morning it took us over 1.5 hours to reach the park.  In this case, the train may be faster.  To drive, however, exit the East Gate, turning right.  Take an immediate left at the light and go straight to the T intersection.  Turn right at the T and continue straight to the train tracks.  Go under the tracks and turn left onto Route 7.   Follow this road for a long time until it becomes a one-way street and you cannot proceed. At this point, turn left; cross the canal and make an immediate right. You will still be on Route 7 aka Itsukaichi Kaido. After six lights, you will pass the entrance to Koganei Park on the left. As you continue, you will pass a CASA restaurant, a McDonalds and a Royal Host. Route 7 will take one more turn at a large intersection.  Keep to the left as you go through. Get into the right lane immediately after the intersection. Go to the second light and turn right. (basically stay on Route 7).  After you pass a golf driving range on the left (it has a big green net around it), go to the 14th light and turn right. Go through two lights and under a train bridge. At the next light, turn left. At the very next light you will come to a “T” intersection. The parking lot for the park is located here—to enter turn left and then right into the lot (35.699521, 139.570772). The fee for parking is ¥400 an hour, which can add up quickly. The zoo, rides, and picnic area are located down this same street to the left. The lake, shrine, aviary and aquarium are to the right. Hours: The park is always open to the public; the zoo and aquarium are open Tuesday through Sunday 9:30am-5pm.  Note: I’d recommend taking your GPS and don’t miss the right hand turn off of Route 7 towards the park.  I missed it and got stuck driving in the downtown shopping area around Kitchijoji station and it is a traffic mess down there.  There is no way to drive to the park from that area and you’ll have to back track out of the shopping area until you can turn toward the park.   See two maps below: one of just the park grounds with the park lot marked to give you a sense of where the train station is compared to parking, the lake and even the Ghibli Museum is marked if you click “view larger map”.  The second gives directions to the park from Yokota.  Donna Anson, Cheryl McNabb, 1997, updated and photos Sarah Straus, June 2013.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Tokyo Gas Museum

This museum is about 30 minutes from Yokota and is perfect for an outing on a cold or rainy day. The museum traces the use of gas as a source of power, heat and light from the 1870’s to present day. The information is shown through videos, interactive displays and exhibits of actual items. Although nearly all in Japanese, there are enough English subtitles to describe what you are seeing. To tour the museum, plan for one hour, as it is two separate buildings. The second floor of one of the museum has a collection of wood block prints. You’ll see such things as gas street lamps, early consumer uses of toasters, irons, rice cookers, water heaters, the gas range used at the Imperial Palace during the Meiji period and a gas driven church organ. There is a small outdoor area to enjoy a picnic. Admission is free.

DIRECTIONS: Turn left out the East Gate. At the first light, go right. Turn left when the road dead ends (second traffic signal). Stay on this road until it dead ends into Shin Ome Kaido at Honmachi 1 Intersection (you will go through two traffic lights and pass the big Yamada discount store on the left). At Shin Ome Kaido there will be a Mos Burger on the left and a used car dealer, turn right onto Shin Ome Kaido. About 6.5 km down Shin Ome Kaido you will go over an overpass, keep going and cross Fuchu Kaido Road. About 8 km down Shin Ome Kaido Road, you will go over a second overpass. Start watching closely at this point. At about 11km you will come to the museum. The sign is fairly easy to read and is in English. The museum complex is a group of red brick buildings surrounded by a red brick and cast-iron fence. You may park in the gravel lot surrounded by the brick and cast iron wall. (Note: You will cross Yanagi Kubo Intersection 0.9 km before the museum. Onumacho 2 Intersection is 0.4 Km from the museum. The TakiyamaMinumi Intersection is the first light PAST the museum—if you get this far, turn around and go back.) Hours: 10am-5pm. Closed Wednesdays. Delores Street, Directions updated Brian Marriott 11/01

A Taste of Mexico in Kokobunji

Viva Japanesque, Restaurante Mexicano Colima Style
Located less than 300 meters (a 5-minute walk) from the South Exit of Kokubunji Station, this small restaurant serves up delicious Mexican cuisine prepared with imported ingredients from Mexico. The owner lived in Dallas, Texas for many years, speaks fluent English and is willing to suggest and explain food choices. An English menu is available. Servings are ample enough to share and prices are reasonable. A dinner set of four dishes including a few nachos, spicy chicken soup, an enchilada in mole sauce (Mexican chocolate sauce including cinnamon and chiles) and one soft taco costs ¥2,000. Group reservations are accepted. GPS: 35.6996, 139.4775
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the train from Fussa to Kokubunji. Leave Kokubunji Station by the south exit. Immediately turn right and proceed along the sidewalk next to the Marui department store (logo looks like “OIOI”), past the parking garage and a big apartment complex, until you arrive at a “T” intersection. Note: there are no restaurants on this road. Viva Japanesque will be located across the street in front of you. The building in blue tile, and the restaurant is decorated with several brightly illuminated signs, which makes it easy to spot. Hours: 11:30am-2pm lunch; 5-10pm weekdays and 2-10pm weekends; closed Tuesdays. Telephone: 042-324-1746. Teresa Negley, Aggie Pabst, 2006. Directions updated 2012