This 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 turn 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.