Drinks about ¥400 - ¥700, food varies, *Some places may have a ¥300 or so table charge
- 3 Chome-68 Koenjiminami, Suginami, Tokyo
- Distance from Station:
- 1 minute from JR Koenji Station
- Many places have English menus, some staff may speak English
Koenji Street: Along and Under the Chuo Line
Koenji is a neighborhood known for its sub-culture and one of the best places to see live music in all of Tokyo. Additionally, “Koenji Street”, the area under and along the tracks to the west of Koenji Station is Koenji’s prime nightlife with traditional izakaya, Japanese restaurants that sell drinks accompanied by food (generally skewers). Izakaya are popular and relatively inexpensive places. If you want to experience an authentic Japanese street food experience in Tokyo, you can’t miss Koenji Street.
With a laid back attitude and great food, these streets are the perfect place to start the evening. Full of small and characteristic izakaya facing one another with their typical red lanterns at the entrance, you can choose one of them guided by the smell of yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) all along the way. Delight yourself with a skewer and a fresh beer or a glass of sake.
What is striking about this area is the relaxed, sociable atmosphere. This is why many artists and musicians live in Koenji. Although a young audience predominates, families and people of all ages are welcome. Often under the tracks you find many street musicians, and it is very pleasant to enjoy live music and the overall artistic atmosphere of the area. To end the evening in the best way, stop for a great cocktail (400-700 yen) in one of the tiny backstreet bars nearby.
When to go: After 5pm is the best time to appreciate this street, with the lights and the smoke of the yakitori dispersed in the air. People start arriving after a hard day of work, or on the weekends after vintage clothing shopping in the neighborhood. Most izakaya have food last orders around 11:30pm, while drinks are still served for an hour or two longer, and few of them do still serve food until as late as 2am.
The area is always open and lively, so any day is a good day to come. In spring when the days are warmer, Koenji Street filled with outdoor tables is the perfect place to enjoy an evening eating and drinking outdoors.
Guidance and accommodation: Koenji has a growing international environment and people are used to expats. Many restaurants have English menus and some owners may speak a little English. Since this is Koenji it means you can find many live music places where to spend the evenings, and don’t worry if you missed the last train, as Koenji does have a few clubs and bars open until morning. If needed, around the station there are hotels to spend the night (check our Koenji accommodation page here).
Prices: Drinks prices can vary from about 400 – 700 yen and food prices vary as well but Koenji is known for being a cheap area.
Koenji Awa-Odori– a traditional festival born in Shikoku, takes place in this area the last weekend of August
Koenji Engei Festival– a traditional rakugo comedy festival has some performances taking place in bars and izakaya on Koenji Street
Location: As you exit Koenji Station, head out the South Exit, cross the street to your right. The street along the tracks and also under the tracks is the Koenji Street nightlife area. This area is also easily accessed from the North exit by heading to the left.
[published May 2018]