Koenji Area Guide

If you love all the excitement of Tokyo, but also dread how cramped it can feel, Koenji is an area worth checking out. Koenji is sometimes referred to as an artists’ haven thanks to its surprising number of live music venues and diverse cafes. Only 10 minutes west of Shinjuku, this is a laid back area that's easy to feel at home in, while still providing quick access to downtown Tokyo. 

Details

Highlights
-- Wide variety of artsy, local stores teeming with interesting goods.
-- Regarded as one of the best locations in all of Tokyo for independent live music.
-- Laid-back, calm atmosphere.
-- Variety of supermarkets throughout the area makes it very convenient to pick up ingredients for meals.
-- Great residential vibe, while being extremely close to Nakano and Shinjuku for excitement.
-- Ideal for either families or singles.
Trainline(s)
Koenji Station is located on the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) and JR Chuo-Sobu Line (Local).
Access
From Koenji Station on the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) and Chuo-Sobu Line (Local):
-- 8-min direct to Shinjuku Station
-- 23-min direct to Tokyo
-- 20-min to Shibuya Station (1 transfer)

Just minutes away from Shinjuku, Koenji is a residential area with a strong appreciation for the arts and independent expression. Boasting a large number of independently owned shops and music venues, Koenji has won the hearts of many artistically-inclined individuals. Creativity aside, this laid-back area is very livable for just about anyone who wants to stay relatively close to Shinjuku and Tokyo. Keep reading to find out if Koenji is the right place for you!

A look down Konan Street which extends to the south of Koenji Station. You can find a lot of local shops here – from bakeries and restaurants to handmade crafts and art galleries! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Contents

Koenji Station South Exit. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Koenji at a glance


From Shinjuku, a 10-minute train ride on the Chuo Line will bring you to Koenji. Although it’s a short distance, the difference between these two locales is like day and night. Tokyoites might tell you that Koenji has a bohemian vibe, as you can find a variety of live music venues and cafes in the area. This artsy ambiance is a calm counterbalance to the controlled chaos that is downtown Tokyo.

Koenji Station North Exit. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Transportation

Koenji Station is accessed by the Chuo and Chuo-Sobu Lines. And, it’s only a 12-minute walk to Shin-Koenji Station from which you can catch a subway on the Marunouchi Line. 

 

Looking down a street in Koenji. Photo: Scott Kouchi

This area rather affordable considering its close distance to downtown Tokyo.

Rent

If you’re looking to find affordable housing that’s not too far away from downtown Tokyo, it’s a good idea to take a look at Koenji. Here are the average prices for rent in the area.

  • Studio/1K ¥77,300 (About $760 assuming an exchange rate of ¥106/US dollar)
  • 1LDK/2DK/2K ¥115,600 (About $1090)
  • 2LDK/3DK/3K ¥150,800 (About $1420)

That being said, on Real Estate Japan, you can find much less expensive options than the average numbers mentioned above.

For example, rent for shared rooms in guest houses near Koenji Station start at around ¥30,000 per month. And you can also find a large selection of apartments in the ¥50,000 range if you have reservations about living in shared housing.

Apartments for rent around the Koenji neighborhood

To see current listings, please click on the links below.

Looking down Pal shopping arcade to the south of Koenji Station. The variety of stores and restaurants close to the station makes Koenji an attractive area to live in. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Ease of living

Koenji has a reputation of being an area of Tokyo that is exceptionally easy to live in. It has plenty of interesting shops and restaurants, without feeling crowded or busy like Shibuya or Harajuku.

A selection of beautiful one-of-a-kind handmade accessories on display at fechule handmade goods store. Photo: Scott Kouchi

As stated earlier, Koenji is also known as a bit of an artists’ haven. You’ll find reminders of this just simply walking through the town; there are walls with decorative graffiti, countless live music venues, and eclectic second-hand stores.

It’s not uncommon to see storefronts adorned with works of art in Koenji. This tribute to classic actresses welcomes you to Dogberry cafe. Photo: Scott Kouchi

There is a Tokyu supermarket adjacent to the station. And just a minute walk to the south, you’ll run into a large OK supermarket.

This Tokyu Store supermarket is adjacent to the station and open 24-hours – super convenient for picking up groceries (or a late night snack)! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Sometimes children’s parks in Tokyo can seem a bit grey and desolate, but Mabashi Park (a 10-minute walk from Koenji Station) is a vibrant, beautiful space to relax. It’s also a popular spot for parents to bring their kids as there are plenty of playground structures.

Close to Koenji Station, you can relax and enjoy a bit of nature at Mabashi Park. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Every year the Koenji Awa Odori takes places through the streets of Koenji. This is one of the largest Awa Odori festivals in Tokyo, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the celebration and festivities (including indulging in festival food).

These donuts almost look too good to eat! Floresta bakery in Koenji creates these cute and delicious sugary delights! Photo: Scott Kouchi

The dream of the 90s is alive in Koenji

Koenji is a great place to get the creative juices flowing! There are a ton of charming and quaint stores and shops throughout this area, so let’s get started!

The rustic look of this bookstore (ehonrusuban) adds to its unique Koenji-esque charm. You can find children’s books from all around the world here! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Live music is played in many establishments (no matter how big or small) like these strewn throughout Koenji. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Koenji is famous for having a diverse collection of “live houses” (the Japanese-English term for a music club or live music venue). If you love checking out live music performances, you’ll be right at home in this neighborhood.

Vintage clothes treasure trove

This is just one of the many used/vintage clothes stores scatted around Koenji. Peruse the seemingly endless racks of secondhand clothes at your leisure! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Areas like Shimokitazawa might be considered more of a “hip” hangout spot (particularly popular with the younger crowd), but Koenji has a unique spin on vintage/trendy that is worth mentioning. Especially, it offers a surprising array of secondhand clothes stores.

Who is this area ideal for?

With quick access to Shinjuku via the Chuo Line, Koenji is a great location for those who might not necessarily be keen on living amongst the thick of the city. There are plenty of options for groceries and household goods, making this location very easy to live in. It’s a great place for getting involved with arts and community events as well.

Lead photo: Scott Kouchi

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