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Tokyo in Black and White - Kichijoji

I decided to go to Kichijoji early in the morning and shoot in black and white for this article.  When I came to Japan in 1991 I lived in Mitaka, the next station, but the place I spent most of time in was Kichijoji.  I worked there, I went out with friends there, most of my time was spent there.  For Tokyoites it was the place to go then, and still is now.  It has seen a lot of changes over the years, but it is still pretty much the same as it was when I first saw it.

Keio-Inokashira line trains at the station

Kichojoji has a lot of universities, temples and shrines, places to shop, eat and drink.  It is located on the Chuo and Keio-Inokashira lines, so access to other parts of city is very easy.  It’s mostly low-set place, very few tall buildings.  The area, in my opinion, is very green so far as Tokyo as concerned.  For the average Tokyoite, Kichijoji offers a good quality of life.  It’s no wonder it quite often gets voted as the best place to live in the city.

Diamond road, one of Kichijoji's popular malls

For me, it is very “old-world” Tokyo.  Well, some parts of the station area have been undergoing some revitalization recently with the addition of new buildings like the Kirarina building, which I think opened in 2014.  But, overall, many of the buildings are quite old, probably dating from the 1980s or even 1970s?  I certainly don’t mind, as Kichijoji has a very unique atmosphere.

Early in the morning and hardly anyone around

I think one of the reasons for my attachment to the area is Iseya.  Iseya was the place where I had my first “real” night out in Japan. When I first saw the old shop, I thought it was on fire, so much smoke coming from the grills, it was incredible.  The place was always packed.  Lining up there to get a seat was normal.  Built just after the war, it makes good yakitori, gyoza and shumai which all goes down well with Sapporo Black Label beer.  Heaven knows how many times I visited that place in my first two years in Japan.  It’s a pity that the old building was ripped down, but it had probably become a fire hazard, such was its condition.

Kichijoji isn’t just about Iseya though.  It has Inokashira park (right next to Iseya) which pulls huge crowds, especially on weekends.  There is also Harmonica alley, famous for its little bars, ramen shops and izakayas is very popular.  I also like visiting its temples and shrines, none of which are very famous, but some of them are extremely beautiful.  You could spend ages in Kichijoji and still not see everything.  I highly recommend it.  A great place to visit … or live!