Andy Cycling Map

SUGINAMI CYCLING WITH DIG TOKYO TOURS (Asagaya, Koenji)

Hailing from Melbourne Australia, Andy and his young family now call the laid-back but eclectic neighbourhood of Asagaya home. As a Japanese chromoly bicycle enthusiast, retired ramen blogger and small business operator of DIG Tokyo Tours, Andy proudly introduces guests to the city’s west side on his local cycling and food tours. Andy welcomes you to jump on a bike and experience a ‘real’ slice of Tokyo via the narrow back streets, crowded sidewalks, bustling eating and drinking enclaves and picturesque riverside bike paths of Suginami.

This bike tour of Asagaya, Koenji and the Zenpukuji River can be comfortably completed in 4 hours. The destinations highlighted provide a mere snapshot of the many local treasures and neighbourly interactions you’re bound to encounter enroute. Feel free to complete the ride solo or join Andy and a bunch of other like minded guests on one of DIG Tokyo Tours cycling and food adventures and ‘Experience Suginami’ as a seasoned local!

1Usagiya-2

Usagiya Japanese Sweets

Our first stop today was at the ever popular Usagiya. Only a stone's throw away from Asagaya Station, the temptation of stuffing our pockets with freshly prepared dorayaki for the ride ahead was too difficult to pass up. The lines were a little more subdued this afternoon but the presence of uniformed crowd controllers and queues spilling out onto the road is a common occurrence at Usagiya which has been serving traditional Japanese sweets since 1957. The Dorayaki, a traditional sweet consisting of sweetened red beans sandwiched in a fluffy pancake, may be the number one drawcard but it's hard to resist sampling each of the tasty treats from the small but meticulously presented showcase of ‘wagashi’ at this quaint local confectionery store.

Price:

dorayaki ¥190
Address:
1 Chome-3-7, Asagaya-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
2 minutes from JR Asagaya Station
Phone:
03-3338-9230 (Japanese only)
Open:
9:00am - 7:00pm, Closed on Saturdays and the 3rd Friday of the month
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese only.
  • no-smoking
2Asan-1

A-san No Niwa Small Park

Dorayaki in hand (and bellies for those that couldn't wait!), we navigated the side streets of Asagaya and cycled to one of Suginami’s lesser known attractions, A-San No Niwa. For animation fans, A-San No Niwa is a small park designed in collaboration with Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki. Before a fire tragically claimed the land, there stood a privately owned Taisho era house that was affectionately referred to by locals as ‘a house fit for Totoro’. Suginami Ward acquired the space and with the combined assistance of Miyazaki and passionate local residents, the area was transformed into the landscaped park it is today. Among the tranquil surroundings we enjoyed our dorayaki while chatting with the local gardening volunteers that had taken an interest in our visit and were eager to tell us more about the fascinating history of the site.

Price:

FREE
Address:
5 Chome-45-13 Asagaya-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
about 14 minutes on foot from JR Asagaya Station
3Koenji-1

Streets of Koenji

Upon first relocating to Tokyo I had a twisted fascination with the city’s different methods of bicycle parking. Manned compounds, coin operated lots, manual stackers, underground robotic systems... How do they work? Where do I pay? Who do I cry to if I can’t retrieve my bike?

The 2 hours of free secure bicycle parking under the JR Chuo Line in Koenji not only allows you to experience the joys and tribulations of parking your bike in Tokyo but also provides an ideal base to head off and discover the bohemian digs of Koenji on foot. Hit up the Experience Suginami website for some local recommendations and spend an hour or two exploring the used clothing stores, vinyl record collections, boutique coffee shops and enticing local eateries in one of my family’s favourite Tokyo neighbourhoods.

Address:
JR Koenji Station:
4 Chome-48 Koenji-minami, Suginami, Tokyo
4EdoMaru-3

Edomaru Standing Noodle Shop

Lunchtime, and what better way to rub shoulders with the locals than at the curbside stand-up noodle bar Edomaru. Slapped directly on the noisy and traffic laden Kannana Dori street, this no fuss/no frills ‘tachigui’ sees an endless stream of truck, taxi and delivery drivers filling up on cheap, hearty bowls of udon, soba and kishimen noodles from 4:30am to 3:20pm, 6 days a week. Having lived in Nagoya for a number of years it’s hard to knock back a bowl of the broad, flat kishimen noodles at an extremely reasonable 280 Yen! Whether cycling around Koenji during the day or or stumbling back to your accommodation before the crack of dawn, Edo Maru has you covered!

Price:

Regular from ¥280, extra toppings from ¥100
Address:
5 Chome-32-4 Koenji-minami, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
about 9 minutes on foot from JR Koenji Station
Phone:
03-5378-2581 (Japanese only)
Open:
4:30am - 3:20pm
Communication:
English speaking staff available on occasion.
5Myohoji-1

Myohoji Temple

Not letting a belly full of noodles get in the way of a good bike ride, we cycled to Myohoji Temple, an impressive Nichiren Buddhist temple tucked away in the backstreets of Suginami. Listed as an ‘Important Cultural Property’, the majestic grounds and inner halls of Myohoji are fascinating to explore. The young monks seated inside the Soshido Hall never fail in inviting you to slip off your shoes and take a peek at the intricately decorated temple interiors. Today the peacefulness of Myohoji’s grounds presented the perfect opportunity to grab a drink from the vending machines and relax in the shade of the 200 year old Gakudo awning.

Price:

FREE
Address:
3 Chome-48-8, Horinouchi, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
11 minute-walk from Tokyo Metro Shin-Koenji Station, 15 minute-walk from Tokyo Metro Higashi-Koenji Station
Open:
September 23 - March 19: 6:00am - 4:30pm, March 20 - September 22: 5:30am - 5:00pm, New Year's Eve: all night
  • no-smoking
6Musashinoen-2

Musashino-en Fishing Pond

‘Trapped in a time warp’ is the only way describe Musashino Gardens which has been handing out fishing rods to generations of local families. This nostalgic fishing pond/eatery/afternoon drinking spot has a very retro, or what the Japanese often label as ‘Showa’, feel about it. Grab a line, perch yourself on a milk crate and try your hand at catching some elusive goldfish or carp in the murky waters. Otherwise kickback under the tarps and enjoy a drink or bite to eat from the endless menu of Japanese comfort food. Just be sure not to cycle off without ordering a serving of popcorn from Tokyo’s noisiest popcorn dispensing ninja!

Price:

Fishing rod + bait ¥700
Address:
2 Chome-22-3 Omiya, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
25 minute-walk from Tokyo Metro Minami-Asagaya Station or Shin-Koenji Station
Phone:
03-3312-2723 (Japanese only)
Open:
9:00am - 6:00pm, Closed Tuesdays
7Zenpukujigawa-1

Zenpukuji-gawa Riverside Cycling

Rested up, we let the sweeping path of the Zenpukuji River guide us back into Asagaya for the final leg of our ride. On any given day you’re bound to pass ‘koi’ swimming in the crystal clear waters, families celebrating the afternoon together in the parks, photographers armed with telephoto lenses snapping pictures of elusive bird-life and musicians practicing their craft away from complaining neighbours. Surrounded by an abundance of open space and greenery it's very easy to forget that you’re still on a bike in the centre of Tokyo.

Price:

FREE
Address:
Zenpukuji-gawa Green Park:
1 Chome-30-27 Naritanishi, Suginami, Tokyo
8Futakun-1

Tachinomi Futa-kun Izakaya

What better way to cap of a great afternoon of cycling in Tokyo than with a beer in hand and some great company at Tachinomi Futa-kun on Asagaya’s Star Road. Get there early to secure a standing position at the counter, place your order with the boisterous staff and on the strike of the gong raise your glasses and bellow out a communal ‘kampai!’ with the locals in this cozy establishment. The range of charcoal grilled skewers make for a great meal but it’s the atmosphere, warm company and continual flow of liquor that makes it hard to break through the vinyl curtains back onto Star Road in search of another hole in the wall haunt to cap off the day.

For inquiries related to discovering Suginami by bicycle or joining a local cycling and food experience, Andy welcomes you to contact him directly via his website, DIG Tokyo Tours- https://www.digtokyotours.com/

[published March 2018]

Address:
2 Chome-12-5 Asagaya-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
2 minutes from JR Asagaya Station, North Exit
Phone:
03-3337-0370 (Japanese only)
Open:
3:00pm - 12:00am
Communication:
English speaking staff available.