For 5 years in a row, Kichijoji has been named the most desired place to live in Kanto and I was blessed with the opportunity to start my life in Japan here.
Living in Kichijoji was pure coincidence. My first company in Japan has a contract with a sharehouse network and new hires from outside of Japan would initially be assigned to live in the sharehouse branch in Kichijoji.
Through that, I was able to live in Kichijoji and see what it was like in one of the best place to live in Tokyo.
Kichijoji is located on the western part of Tokyo prefecture, in Musashino city. It’s most famous for its hipster vibes, unique thrift shops, and the huge Inokashira Park. Kichijoji is quite famous and visited by many Japanese people, but it’s not a popula travel destination yet among foreigners.
Here are some of the things I liked and didn’t like about living in Kichijoji.
Things I Loved
Passing Through Inokashira Park Everyday
I lived on the south side of Kichijoji and Inokashira Park was located right in the middle of my path to the station. Waking up early is something I don’t usually look forward to, but passing through the park in the morning hours was a great feeling and I always felt refreshed for the day.
I was also lucky enough to experience the sakura season while I lived here. Sakura season only lasts for a little more than a week and during that time, I was commuting through one of Japan’s most famous park for watching the sakura in Tokyo.
Even though Kichijoji is located outside of the 23 wards of Tokyo, it was still easy to get around. There are two main train lines, Chuo and Keio, that run from Kichijoji to Shinjuku and Shibuya, which are two huge stations that have easy access to other parts of Tokyo as well.
Unique Shops and Thrift Shops
Kichijoji is known for its unique shops and hipster thrift shops. Even if I’m not the shopping type of person, it brought a nice atmosphere to the neighborhood and is kind of similar to the thrift shop area of Harajuku.
If you go to other stations like Shinjuku, Harajuku, or Shibuya it can get REALLY crowded. Kichijoji does get crowded, especially on a saturday afternoon, but it’s never an overwhelming amount of people and you can still enjoy your time.
There’s Something For Everyone
Many stations in Tokyo attract a certain crowd. Harajuku seems to be the spot for high school girls and Akihabara is the hub for anime lovers. Kichijoji on the other hand, seems to attract a variety. Inokashira Park attracts a lot of families and couples while the thrift shops and stores attract many people in their 20s and 30s. There are also unique bars that are frequented by many businessmen and local bars for the older folks.
It was nice to live in an area with this kind of balance.
Things I Didn’t Love
Long Walk to the Station
With the low salary that this company offered, there had to be a reason why they would assign us to live in such a desired area and I have figured it out. The sharehouse was 30 minutes away from the station.
This meant that every day that I work or decide to go out, I would walk at least one hour that day. No wonder people here are so skinny!
Incredibly Tiny Room
The other reason I was able to live in Kichijoji was because of the room size. I’ve heard that rooms were small in Tokyo, but this room was beyond what I had imagined.
Since it was a sharehouse, the bathroom, kitchen and living room was shared and each room came with a bed, table, and closet. If you open the door to this room and take 5 steps in, you’ll already be at the other side. The width of the room was also no more than 2 meters.
All of this for 70,000 yen (~$650 USD).
Nevertheless, I was okay with this room at the time. It was my first time in Tokyo and I was too filled with excitement to care about how small my living quarters were or how far the station was. Eventually, I decided to move out and found a place in the 23 ward with 4x the space, 7 minutes from the station and 25% cheaper. Not bad eh?
Peak Hour Trains
The worst part about living here had to be the train during rush hour. Similar to other big cities, most people live in the suburbs while working inside the city. This meant that everybody living in Kichijoji, and every other city past Kichijoji, took the Chuo Line into Tokyo.
Pat B [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
According to Live Japan, the Chuo line can congest up to 188% of the intended capacity. Being in this train, you can barely even lift your arm and this was the only way to commute to work. I still can’t understand how people can deal with this 5 times a week.
In summary, I enjoyed living in Kichijoji the short time that I did. It’s definitely one of the best suburbs of Tokyo and has a unique atmosphere to it. You get a nice balance of people as well as a nice balance of city and nature. Even now, after moving out, I still enjoy spending some weekends coming back to the best place to live in Tokyo.
Have you ever been to Kichijoji? Let us know in the comments!