Kōenji

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Koenji)
Jump to: navigation, search
Izakaya in Higashi Kōenji

Kōenji (高円寺?) is an area of Tokyo in Suginami ward, west of Shinjuku. The neighborhood is named after some old temples in the area.

Kōenji is primarily a bedroom community with easy access to Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations. It was largely unaffected by the 1980s building boom and therefore many of the houses and shops in the area are small and reflect the character of pre-boom Japan. Due to its aging retail district and location on a major commuter route, the station area has become a center for small restaurants and "Live Houses" which offer live music. It is also known for having a young population and as a center for suburban underground culture including multiple used record and clothing shops. In 2006, when the Japanese PSE law went into effect restricting the sale of electronic goods built before 2001, Kōenji was chosen as the site for a protest due to its active "retro" culture and used equipment shops.

History[edit]

The current division of Kōenji into north and south around Kōenji Station is a post-war arrangement. The whole area surrounding Shukuhōzan Kōenji temple used to be called "Kōenji".

There also used to be a town called Mabashi between Kōenji and nearby Asagaya, which has since been absorbed into Kōenji, although the name "Mabashi" is retained in some schools and shrines.

Entertainment[edit]

Shopping[edit]

After Harajuku and Shimokitazawa, Kōenji is the best-known area in Tokyo for used clothing shopping. The majority of the stores are on the south side of the JR station, on or near Look Shōtengai (ルック商店街).

South of the station is the "PAL" shopping arcade filled with many food, clothing, and discount goods shops. North of the station there are two main shopping streets filled with used record shops, restaurants and cafes. West of the station, both north, south, and under the tracks are many small yakitori's and bars. The station itself was renovated in 2006, and a brand new Hotel Mets opened at the northern entrance in March 2007.

There are several large supermarkets, including Queen's Isetan (near Shin-Kōenji Station), which stocks a fair amount of imported food.

Eating and drinking[edit]

Dozens of yakitori restaurants, izakaya, ramen-ya, and nomiya can be found in the streets and alleys of both north and south Kōenji, as well as under the elevated tracks near the JR station. As with many areas of Tokyo, finding a place to eat or drink is easy, but finding a truly memorable one is another matter - often requiring exploration.

Awa Odori[edit]

Awa Odori in Kōenji

Each year in late August the Kōenji Awa Odori festival is held over three days. This is increasingly becoming a major tourist attraction for the area. It is the second largest Awa Dance Festival in Japan, with an average of 188 groups composed of 12,000 dancers, attracting 1.2 million visitors over the course of the weekend.[1]

The festival has its origins in Tokushima and was adopted by Kōenji post-war. It involves a procession of groups performing traditional music and dance, and is enjoyed by a wide variety of people. The procession weaves its way through the streets on both sides of Kōenji Station, often with a dramatic conclusion at the "finish line".

Music[edit]

Kōenji is said to be the birthplace of punk in Tokyo, and some good (small) live venues can still be found there.

Parks[edit]

There are several parks in the area, including Sanshi-no-mori (蚕糸の森), Mabashi Kōen (馬橋公園), and Wadabori Kōen (和田堀公園). Wadabori Kōen is the best in the immediate area for viewing sakura in spring, or for a stroll.

Transport[edit]

The Kōenji area is accessible by the JR Chūō-Sōbu Line (Kōenji Station) and the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line (Shin-Kōenji Station or Higashi-Kōenji Station).

The major roads Waseda Dōri (早稲田通り), Kannana Dōri (環七通り) and Ōme Kaidō (青梅街道) also pass through the suburb.

Kōenji in popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°42′19″N 139°39′04″E / 35.70528°N 139.65111°E / 35.70528; 139.65111