Kichijoji is located in the west of Tokyo and is viewed as one of the trendiest parts of the capital. Most famed for its expansive Inokashira Park, the town is also an artist’s wonderland with unique arts and crafts available on every street corner. Much quieter than central Tokyo, Kichijoji is just one 15-minute train ride away from both Shibuya and Shinjuku, giving you direct access to a whole new side of Tokyo. While home to the renowned Inokashira Park and Ghibli Museum, there are plenty of things of the beaten track to discover in this quirky district, so take a look at these 8 must dos!
Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets that can come in many forms but are most commonly made from mochi (餅; a sweet soft rice cake) and anko (餡子; azuki bean paste). Very different to western sweets, wagashi are surprisingly delicious and a new experience for your taste buds.
Have a go at making your own in a local’s house then, once your sweets are all ready to eat, slip next door to a traditional tea room. Tea rooms are special square rooms designed specifically for tea ceremonies. Watch the preparation of matcha green tea before being served up a nice warm cup of it for the perfect accompaniment to your wagashi.
There are relaxing hot baths all over Japan but if you want to get the healing qualities to go with it, you’ll need to visit a natural hot spring – an onsen. With just a few real onsen in Tokyo, it can be hard to search out the ones that use naturally mineral-rich water. Kichijoji’s black water onsen contains minerals said to give your body a good detox, leaving your skin and your mind nice and fresh.
It’s good to fill up on a nice healthy Japanese meal after chilling out in the onsen to finish off your relaxing day. Little tip – Remember to take your jewellery off before getting in the baths and don’t put your head under water!
Traditional Japanese flower arranging, known as ikebana in Japanese, has been around since the 7th century. Ikebana isn’t just about throwing some flowers into a vase, it’s seen as an art form and spiritual practice that focuses on reflecting the balance between humanity and nature.
Visit an old Japanese house to learn more about the history and techniques of ikebana before being guided through the process of creating your own perfect arrangement.
Located a little outside of Tokyo, Kichijoji’s main draw for tourists is its beautiful Inokashira Park. However, wander the little back streets away from the park and you’ll find yourself away from the visitors and mingling with the locals. Go on an adventure through Kichijoji’s street dedicated to harmonicas, visit temples, a hot spring and of course don’t miss out on its beautiful park with a local walking tour of the area.
Typically the samurai would perform a dance before going into battle. In Kichijoji, you can have the chance to watch a performance of the traditional samurai dance which involves moving around stealthily with a sword. After getting an insight in the style, you can then dress up yourself and learn some samurai moves yourself!
Let’s not lie, one of the main things that has brought us to Japan is the irresistible food. While you’re here, you want to make the most of all the Japanese cuisine that just isn’t the same back home. Exploring all the restaurants will, of course, keep your bellies full and happy for most of your stay but how about learning a bit of Japanese cooking yourself?
A three-hour cooking class in Kichijoji will teach you some of the best home-cooked dishes. Have a go at whipping up some sushi rolls, tempura, okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette), miso soup and teriyaki chicken.
While themed cafés and restaurants aren’t hard to come by in Tokyo, if you’re into creeping yourself out, you can’t miss out on Kichijoji’s haunted Yurei restaurant, especially if you’re in Tokyo for Halloween. Gory food comes in the form of intestines to human ribs, while the scary tunes, dressed up staff and props around the restaurant perfect the spooky setting.
If you plan on going for Halloween, be sure to reserve your table in advance as it books up fast.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with origami which is the artistic folding of paper into 3D objects. Now, imagine the beautiful folding of material and you’ve got yourself furoshiki wrapping. Furoshiki is a piece of square piece of cloth often finished off with a beautiful Japanese design. Furoshiki cloth can be used to wrap up all sorts of objects, from books, tissues and wines.
Learn how to wrap things in this unique and beautiful way. This is the perfect (environmentally-friendly) way of wrapping the gifts you take home.
This little trip out of central Tokyo is sure to provide you with an enriching local experience that will leave you feeling like you’ve seen another side of Tokyo. As well as seeing the popular sights, come away feeling like you know that little bit more about Japan and its fascinating culture!