Bunkyo Ward Guide

Located just north of Tokyo's central wards, Bunkyo Ward is literally the capital of literature and learning in Tokyo and home to many universities. Its residential neighborhoods are off-the-radar, relaxed, and very convenient for getting to downtown business districts. These include Otsuka, Hakusan, Hongo, Kasuga, and Nezu.

Bunkyo Ward is located just north of Tokyo’s central wards and is literally the capital of literature and learning in Tokyo, with the characters for bunkyo being 文, meaning “literature” and 京, meaning “capital”. It has a huge concentration of national and private universities, including the Hongo campus of Tokyo University, often referred to as the Harvard of Japan. Bunkyo ranks nineteenth out of the 23 Wards with respect to the population of foreign residents, so it’s off the radar as a residential option for most foreigners. Its residential neighborhoods range from old-school but convenient (like Otsuka on the Yamanote Line and Nezu), to high-end (like Hakusan and Koraku), and ultra-urban (like the residential areas near the Tokyo Dome complex).

Contents

Bunkyo quick facts

  • Population: 221,489 (as of January 1, 2019)
  • Area: 11.29 km²
  • Density: 19,618 (/km²)
  • Population of foreign residents: 10,808 (4.9% of total population of Bunkyo)
  • About 2.3% of the total resident foreigner population of the Tokyo 23 Wards lives in Bunkyo.

Major Train Stations

Station Train Lines
Kourakuen  Tokyo Metro Marunouchi
 Tokyo Metro Namboku
Gokokuji  Tokyo Metro Yurakucho
Hon-komagome  Tokyo Metro Namboku
Myogodani  Tokyo Metro Marunouchi
Sengoku  Toei Mita

Main residential neighborhoods

Bunkyo Ward ranks high for

  • Many major universities are located here, notably the Tokyo University’s Hongo, Hakusan, and Yayoi campuses.
  • Many residential neighborhoods near beautiful gardens and spacious green areas, notably the Rikugien Gardens, Koishikawa Botanical Gardens and Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens.
  • Modern urban living near the Tokyo Dome complex.
  • Family-friendly living, within easy commuting distance of downtown Tokyo business districts.
  • Traditional neighborhoods that preserve the look and feel of shitamachi (literally, “low town”) Tokyo, such as Nezu.
  • Laid back but convenient neighborhoods like Otsuka, just one stop east of Ikebukuro on the Yamanote line.

Who lives in Bunkyo Ward?

  • University and graduate school students.
  • The majority of foreign residents are from China, Korea, Viet Nam and Nepal but also European countries.
  • People and families looking for a relaxed residential atmosphere, away from expat-dense areas, but within easy commuting distance of central Tokyo

Popular housing searches in Bunkyo Ward

Location and highlights

Universities and Colleges

Bunkyo is home to five national universities and a dozen private universities. These include:

  • Ochanomizu University
  • University of Tsukuba, Otsuka Campus
  • University of Tokyo Hongo Campus
  • Tokyo Medical and Dental University
  • Chuo University Engineering department
  • Tokyo Woman’s Christian University
  • Japan Women’s University

Koshikawa Botanical Gardens

Koishikawa Botanical Garden, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. Image: Wikimedia

Koishikawa Botanical Garden, located in the Koishikawa neighborhood of Bunkyo Ward, is a 40-acre botanical garden and arboretum operated by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Science. It is a hidden gem in the center of Bunkyo Ward where you can stroll through landscaped and natural areas containing thousands of species of trees and plants. This is a wonderful place to do hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) picnicking because of its local neighborhood atmosphere. There is a small admission fee to use the garden, which is actually a series of connected formal gardens, spaces for botanical specimens and wooded natural areas. Outside of cherry blossom viewing season, it is almost never crowded and well worth the small admission fee.

Hakusan

The closest residential neighborhood to the Koishikawa Botanical Gardens is Hakusan. This is considered a high-end residential neighborhood and very desirable due to its proximity to the gardens, well-ranked public schools, and Tokyo University’s Hakusan campus. There are many single-family residences lining the hilly streets in this area but you can also find mid-rise apartment complexes suitable for singles, couples, and families, and on Real Estate Japan, our agents list apartments that are suitable for university student budgets.

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Rakuen (Garden), Bunkyuo Ward, Tokyo. Photo: Wikimedia

The Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is a 17th-century landscaped garden located in southern Bunkyo, incorporating elements of both Chinese and Japanese aesthetics. It is considered the most beautiful Japanese landscaped garden in Tokyo.

Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome is a massive entertainment and shopping complex located just east of the Koshikawa Korakuen Gardens, the nearest train stations being Korakuen Station on the Namboku subway and Suidobashi Station on the JR Chuo-Sobu and Mita subway lines. It includes the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium, an amusement park, the LaQua spa, many shops and restaurants, a branch of the Seijo Ishii supermarket, the Tokyo Dome Hotel, a small space museum (TenQ), and Asobono, an awesome indoor play area for young children. It is also a popular venue for concerts and people doing cosplay.

Residential neighborhoods near the Tokyo Dome complex include Kasuga, Hongo San-Chome, Koraku, and Suidobashi. These are extremely convenient neighborhoods for students, working professionals, and families who want to have plentiful shopping, dining, and entertainment options nearby. At the same time, these stations are also excellent for commuting to downtown business districts like Otemachi, Kamiyacho, and Roppongi.

One thing to note about the shops and restaurants in the Tokyo Dome complex, however, is that they tend to be geared towards Japanese people, so you will find that many will not have English menus or English-speaking staff. In this sense, living near the Tokyo Dome area offers modern urban conveniences in a local Tokyo environment, as opposed to the expat-dense neighborhoods of Minato Ward.

Nezu Area

Nezu is a traditional residential neighborhood on the eastern border of Bunkyo Ward, just north of Ueno. Nezu is part of the Yanesen area (which includes Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi), which his known for preserving shitamachi, traditional Tokyo. The atmosphere here is slow-paced and conservative, with many traditional shops lining the small winding streets. Nezu is also known for Nezu Shrine, a Shinto shrine established in 1705. It is one of the oldest places of worship in Tokyo, and several of the buildings on the shrine grounds have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. In the spring, the famous Bunkyo Azalea Festival takes place here.

As a residential neighborhood for foreigners, Nezu is well off the beaten track, so it is recommended for people looking to live in a more “authentically Japanese” area that is not too far from the modern conveniences and shopping of nearby Ueno and the Tokyo Dome complex.


Apartments for Rent in Bunkyo Ward

Properties for Sale in Bunkyo Ward

Lead photo: Tokyo University, Hongo campus fall foliage via Hi-no-moto.com

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