The Complete Travel Guide to Ishigaki

If you’re looking for a hidden tropical getaway during your next trip to Japan, look no further because Ishigaki is the answer!

Ishigaki is home to many unique beaches and is a popular travel destination among Japanese people, but not so well known by travelers from outside the country. We put this guide together to introduce this beautiful island to everyone and hope that you add it to your bucket list!

Don’t forget to pin it for later!

Best Time to Go

Typhoon season for Ishigaki usually occurs around June to October and ironically, that’s also the busiest season since it’s also summer break time in Japan. Therefore, the best time to visit Ishigaki would be right before summer, around April and May, when tourism and temperature are not yet at its peak. 

Winter is also a great time to visit if you’re looking to escape the cold. Ticket prices also tend to be cheaper around November to January and you can also enjoy Ishigaki without the crowd of tourists as well!

How Many Days to go

To see most places in Ishigaki, you’ll need at least 3-4 days, but to completely enjoy your island vacation, we recommend staying for at least a week. Ishigaki has beautiful beaches, awesome food, and stunning nature, but to get the most out of this island, you’ll need to fully immerse yourself with it. Jump into the waters, search for the local mom & pop restaurant, and explore the neighboring Yaeyama islands as well. 

How to Get to Ishigaki

Ishigaki has a small domestic airport with occasional international flights to nearby countries. In most cases, you would transfer at either Osaka, Tokyo, or Naha and then arrive at Ishigaki. Another option is to purchase a ticket to Ishigaki separately, which can potentially help you save costs. 

Note: Since the end of 2019, more LCC (low cost carrier) airlines have increased operations to Ishigaki, making traveling to this island much more affordable. Now is definitely the best time to explore what Ishigaki has to offer!

Transportation in Ishigaki

The best way to experience Ishigaki and it’s nature is through a rental car.  Rental cars in Ishigaki are also much cheaper than they are in mainland Japan and can save you a significant amount of time compared to taking public transportation. 


If you’re unable to rent a car, we recommend booking your accommodation near the urban area of Ishigaki since this is where public transportation is. There are buses that come every 30-60 minutes and allow access to popular areas of the island, such as Kabira Bay. You can check the bus schedule here.

Taxis are available as well but they’re often hard to come across unless you’re near a central area. If you’re ever in need of a taxi, try asking a nearby business or restaurant if they can help you call one!

If you booked an activity, you may also check if they provide transportation to and from your accommodation.






Things to do

Chill Out at Kabira Bay

With clear blue waters and small green islands floating in the distance, the breathtaking view of Kabira Bay is the iconic symbol of Ishigaki.

Take the stairs down to the beach, and you can feel your feet sink right into the soft sand underneath the crystal clear water. 

At street level, there are multiple souvenir shops lined up and restaurants that serve some amazing Ishigaki cuisine.

Short Hike Up Mount Nosoko Mape

Even for those that don’t like hiking, we recommend trying this one out because it’s one of the best hiking experience we’ve had thus far.

The hike up to the peak of Mount Nosoko Mape is a steep trail through a path in the forest, but it’s a short one and takes less than 30 minutes. Once you get to the top, the trees clear away and suddenly you have this amazing view of Ishigaki. 

Because it’s such a breathtaking spot, the top of Mount Nosoko Mape is often considered a “power spot” among Japanese people, a place where you can go for spiritual healing, and there’s no questioning why!

Explore the Ibaruma Sabichi Cave

What’s interesting about the Ibaruma Sabichi Cave is that you can experience 3 different landscapes within a couple minutes. The entrance to the cave is a lush, green forest. If you walk through the other end of the dim cave, it opens up to a secret, secluded beach. Unlike other sandy beaches in Ishigaki, this one is a rocky type one and is partially the reason why this cave is a must-see in Ishigaki. 

Gazing at the Stars


Ishigaki is said to be one of the best places in the world to watch the stars. 

You can see 84 of the 88 constellations and even a faint outline of the Milky Way Galaxy on clear nights. There’s even an observatory here which you can visit. 

The stars can be enjoyed from pretty much anywhere on the island, but if you want to watch from the best spots, there are many affordable tours available, some that take you out to sea to watch!

Buy Souvenirs from Euglena Mall

Euglena mall is a large arcade mall located in the urban area of Ishigaki, near the ferry port.

There’s everything from souvenir shops to local public markets with fresh local produce. There’s also many restaurants surrounding Euglena mall that serve traditional Okinawan food.

If you’re wondering what souvenirs to bring back home, here’s a list of some popular souvenirs from Ishigaki.

  • Shima zori sandals. Okinawan style sandals that are nicely designed and comfortable to wear
  • Black pearl accessories. Ishigaki is the only place in Japan to produce black pearls. 
  • Salt. Ishigaki is famous for salt, especially since the island is surrounded by corals
  • Beni-imo tarts. Beni-imo is a type of sweet potato grown in Okinawa. The tart made from this Okinawan sweet potato is one of the most popular souvenirs here!
  • Chinsuko. Traditional Okinawan shortbread cookie.
  • Awamori – Traditional Okinawa Sake.
  • Koregusu – Okinawa chili sauce made with Awamori.

Water Activities

Kayak or SUP in Kabira Bay & Snorkeling in Blue Cave

Once you’ve feasted your eyes onto the iconic Kabira Bay, the next thing you’ll want to do is jump into the clear, cobalt waters. One of the most popular water activities in Ishigaki is to explore the waters by either kayak or SUP (stand up paddleboard). From on top of the water, you can see all sorts of marine life that live here.

Book your activity here.

Snorkel at Phantom Island

Take a boat and sail out to a close-by mini island made entirely of sand. On this island, the waters are shallow and the beach runs in a U shape. There are lots of diverse marine life in near the island and you can explore the waters with snorkeling gear by jump in straight from the island. 

Book your activity here.

Introductory Scuba Diving

What better way to enjoy the tropical island than to dive into the ocean? There are tons of marine life flourishing around Ishigaki island and one of the best way to experience it is by scuba diving. 

The waters are crystal clear and you may get a chance to run into some manta rays. In fact, Ishigaki is the most popular place to scuba dive in Japan. If you’ve never tried scuba diving before, don’t worry! There are plenty of places that don’t require a scuba certification. They teach you how to dive and make sure that nothing goes wrong. 

Book your activity here

Kayak into the Sunset

If you’re into unique, picturesque scenery, you can enjoy the golden hour on a kayak. The activity starts later in the day and lasts until the sun goes down. If you’re interested in participating in a calm activity, then we highly recommend this type of activity!

Book your activity here.

Food to Try in Ishigaki

Ishigaki Beef

Ishigaki beef is famous in Japan for being very high quality and tender and we highly recommend any dish made with this beef. Even common Japanese food such as gyudon and yakisoba taste nothing like the ones made in mainland Japan.

Restaurants that do use Ishigaki Beef usually have a sign up indicating so. If you don’t mind spending some extra money, try ordering the Ishigaki Beef Steak!

Yaeyama Soba

Yaeyama soba is a variation of the Okinawan soki soba with a seafood twist. Instead of using completely pork, the broth is infused with tuna and the dish is topped with minced meat and fish cake. 

Local Fish

As with many island destinations, fish is a very common ingredient. Any sushi or sashimi made with locally caught fish will taste incredible.

Sugar Cane Juice

Sugar cane is one of Ishigaki’s main produce and you can see sugar cane fields almost everywhere. Try a cup of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice from any smoothie shop in the island or even try some brown sugar snacks made from sugar canes!

Sata Andagi (Brown Sugar Donuts)

Speaking of brown sugar snacks, there’s one you must try. Sata Andagi is the Okinawan version of a donut and it’s in the shape of a ball rather than a ring. The natural sweeteners will make you feel less guilty when reaching for a second one!

Tapioca (Boba)

Ishigaki is known for its brown sugar and where there’s good brown sugar, there’s good tapioca drinks!

Ishigaki Restaurant


Ichibanza is the perfect place to try many different kinds of Ishigaki cuisines. Ishibanza is an izakaya located right outside of the ANA Intercontinental Hotel entrance and it’s the perfect stop from the airport to the city area. 

They serve everything from Yaeyama soba to Ishigaki steak. Whichever dish you choose, we highly recommend ordering a side of the mozuku tempura which is a type of seaweed, fried in tempura batter. 

Hours: 11:30am – 3:00pm, 6:00pm – 12:00am

Address: 354-5 Maezato, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0002, Japan

Phone Number: +81 980-83-5080

Kebab Kaboo

When arriving in Kabira Bay, Kebab Kaboo is one of the first restaurants you’ll see. They use Ishigaki beef in their kebabs, which automatically makes it a luxury kebab. 

They also serve Ishigaki beef sushi which won’t fill you up but is a great luxury snack.

Address: 917-1 Kabira, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0453, Japan

Phone Number: +81 90-1086-2413


Yuratic is a restaurant in downtown Ishigaki, located near Euglena mall, on the first floor of Hotel Cucule. Yuratic has a local vibe to it and serves a lot of traditional Okinawan food.

If you order any set meal, it comes with a piece of fresh sashimi on the side. They have great Yaeyama and Soki Soba, but their champloo was my favorite.

Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm

Address: Japan, 〒907-0012 Okinawa, Ishigaki, Misakicho, 8−1 石垣島ホテル ククル1F

Phone Number: +81 980-88-7970

Banya Farm

Banya Farm is a smoothie shop located on the north eastern part of the island, and its an awesome rest stop on the way back from Mount Nosoko Mape or Ibaruma Sabichi Cave. 

Their smoothies are amazing but what’s more interesting is the shop itself. There’s a huge front yard with lots of greenery and various seating arrangements that can make for some great pictures!

On the other side of the yard is the shop owner’s residence, with lots of dogs, cats, and a sheep! And they sometimes let them roam around the area. In the back, there’s a short hiking path that takes you to an observation deck overlooking the coastline!

Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm 

Address: 165-411 Tozato, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0241, Japan

Phone Number: +81 90-4490-7153


Papaya is another smoothie shop that’s located in the central north part of Ishigaki, a small distance from Kabira bay. At Papaya, it’s all about the taste.

They sell authentic, delicious fruit smoothies and sugar cane juice that they juice out on the spot. All of their flavor are natural and come from produce on the island. 

You can’t go wrong with any of their juices but we recommend getting the B blend, which is a magical mix of mango, pineapple, and sugar cane juice. 

Hours: 8:30am – 6:00pm

Address: 491 Fukai, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan

Phone Number: +81 980-88-2583


Ishigaki is the hidden tropical island getaway that you definitely need to add to your Japan travel itinerary! Go and enjoy the island breeze, participate in water activities, and indulge on some authentic Ishigaki beef!


6 Best Ski Resorts for Snowboarding in Japan

Any snowboard enthusiast would know that Japan is world famous for snowboarding and winter sports; There’s over 500 facilities in the country and the snow quality in Japan is amazing.

But you don’t need to be a hobbyist to enjoy snowboarding in Japan and it’s an activity recommended to anyone that visits the country. However, with the 500 different facilities in this small island, it’s hard to choose where to go during your limited time here. 

In this article, I present 6 different snowboard resorts, handpicked by us and our friends, that are some of the best ski resorts in Japan. Make sure to read until the end to find out Tomomi’s favorite spot!

Why Japan for Snowboard?

There are two main reasons why Japan is famous for snowboard: the snow and the facility. 

Japan is made up of 73% mountain and there is constant snowfall in these mountainous regions during the winter. The snow that falls in these regions are powder snow, really soft snow and something that you can only get in really cold climates. 

To complement the perfect landscape for snowboarding, Japan has built incredible facilities to encourage winter sports. There’s tons of ski lifts, restaurants in the slopes, and great transportation and lodging in these remote ski resort areas (not to mention the amazing views you can get at just about any ski resort).

When is Snowboarding Season?

Specific dates for snowboarding season may vary from area to area, but in general, it starts around the second week of December and ends around the end of March. Off-season usually starts and ends one week before and after the the season. 

For specific dates for snowboarding season, you can confirm through each ski resort’s website.

What to Bring?

While you can rent the snowboard, winter jacket, and winter pants at just about any ski resort, these are some items you should consider bringing to your trip:

  • snow hat/ helmet
  • snow goggles
  • snowboard gloves
  • winter socks
  • warm inner layer (like Uniqlo HeatTech)

Mailing Your Snowboard

In Japan, if you’re bringing your own snowboard, you have the option to send it by mail to the hotel you’ll be staying at. When you make the reservation, accommodations near ski resorts often also provide a mailing address for this reason. 

For those that take public transportation to the ski resorts, it can help take some load off their hands and for those that go by car, it can help clear up some space in the car. It’s not a bad idea and relatively affordable. Yamaneko provides quotes on their website if anybody is curious about the prices.

Niseko in Hokkaido (Most Popular)


Niseko is one of the biggest and probably the most famous ski parks in Japan. This back-country ski resort is located in a remote location in Hokkaido and comprised of 4 ski resorts, each with fresh powder snow and its own unique courses.

How to get there

  • From Shin Chitose Airport: 3 hours by train or bus (reservation required)
  • From Sapporo: 3 hours by train
  • From Hakodate: 4 hours by train

Where to stay


  • Always Niseko – Modern hotel with great service and free shuttles to the ski resort.

Mid Range


Shiga Kogen in Nagano (Most Interesting)

Shiga Kogen is an awesome ski resort that’s less known amongst travelers. It is actually one of the highest ski resorts in Japan and is very close to nature. The Shiga Highlands, one of Japan’s 9 UNESCO biosphere conservation area, is located right at the base of the ski resort and the hot spring monkey park in Jigokudani is very close as well. 

The village area is very quiet and don’t often have English support, but for those that want to experience Japan’s nature in a more remote region, Shiga Kogen is a great place to visit. 

How to get there

  • From Nagano Station: 70 minutes by train
  • From Yudanaka Station: 35 minutes by local bus
  • From Narita/Haneda: 5.5 hour bus ride (reservation required and only during season)

Where to Stay


  • Hotel Mount Shiga – Simple hotel with snow gear locker and hot spring near the ski resort.

Mid Range


Hakuba in Nagano (Most Balanced)


Hakuba is where they held the 1998 Olympics and it’s been a popular snowboard destination since. Once you’re in the Hakuba valley, you’re surrounded by white-topped mountains in every direction and there are a number of hot springs and restaurants so you can enjoy your time before and after the slopes. 

How to get there

  • From Nagano: 70 minutes by bus
  • From Tokyo: 6 hours by bus (reservation required)

Where to Stay


Mid Range


Kusatsu in Gunma (Best Onsen)

The Kusatsu ski resort is one of the more underrated places for snowboarding. The Kusatsu Onsen Village is one of the most famous hot spring areas in Japan and the ski resort is within walking distance from here.

The Kusatsu ski resort is a bit smaller than others but it’s usually not crowded so it’s a good balance. It’s also very close to Tokyo and much cheaper than other resorts so you can even make a day trip!

How to get there

  • From Kusatsu Hot Spring: 20 minute walk or shuttle bus
  • From Tokyo: 6 hours by bus (reservation required)

Where to Stay


Mid Range


  • Hotel Ichii – Spacious ryokan with Japanese and western rooms overlooking the famous Yubatake. 

Yuzawa in Niigata (Most Accessible)


Not only does the area get tremendous snowfall every year, Yuzawa is also one of the most easily accessible ski resorts from Tokyo, with an expressway and a Shinkansen station running through the area. 

The place is also filled with sightseeing spots, onsen, and restaurants which make it a great travel destination as a whole. If you happen to be traveling around in Tokyo in the winter months, I definitely recommend making a snowboard trip out to Yuzawa!

How to get there

  • From Tokyo: 90 minutes by Shinkansen or 4 hours by local train

Where to stay


  • Sports Plaza Shirakiba – Simple tatami floor rooms and has a restaurant, equipment rentals, and communal bath. 

Mid Range

  • NASPA New Otani Hotel – Standard hotel with great amenities including a pool and relaxing hot spring.


  • Hotel Futaba – 4 star hotel with Japanese and western room options and upscale outdoor bath. 

Zao in Yamagata (Most Unique)


The Zao ski resort is most famous for the thick, snow covered trees called Juhyo or “Snow Monsters”. There is so much snowfall in this area that the snow completely envelops the trees, making them look like giant snowmen.

Even with thousands of snowmen guarding the mountain, there’s still lots of room to ride your board down the slopes as Zao is one of the biggest resorts in the area. Throughout the year, Zao is also famous for its onsen, which is a perfect relaxation after a long day of winter sports. 

Snowboarding in this snowman village is a completely out of this world experience and she highly recommend taking a trip out to Zao if you can!

How to get there

  • From Yamagata: 40 minutes by bus
  • From Sendai: 100 minutes by bus
  • From Tokyo: 8 hours by bus (reservation required and only during season)

Where to stay


Mid Range


  • Zao Kokusai Hotel – Relaxing hotel with great facilities and open air hot bath. 

What are some places you like to go for snowboard? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Honke Bankyu, Nikko Ryokan Review

One summer day, Tomomi and I thought that it was time to make another trip. We haven’t been outside the city in a while, so I wanted to go to the countryside and Tomomi wanted to go for a nice, long drive. 

We did some research and decided that staying in a ryokan in Nikko would be the perfect weekend getaway. We were really excited that it would be our first ryokan experience together and we decided to stay at Honke Bankyu in the Yunishigawa region of Nikko.

Read through our review to find out what we thought.

What is a Ryokan?

A ryokan is a Japanese traditional hotel and here are some key differences to a standard western hotel:

  • Sleep on floor futons instead of a bed
  • Seat cushions instead of chairs
  • tatami mat flooring
  • Comes with hot spring and unique dinner course
  • Wear yugata during the night and to sleep

Some of these may not sound appealing but staying at a ryokan is more of a cultural experience rather than a luxury and it’s a good way to experience Japanese culture.

Honke Bankyu

Honke Bankyu is a 350 year old ryokan located in the small onsen town of Yunishigawa. The ryokan is located right on the bank of the Yunishigawa river and each room has an awesome view of the river. There is also a private bridge that leads to their dining hall on the opposite side of the river. 

The only pictures we took of the front was when monkeys passed by

The Location

The Yunishigawa area is a small onsen town in the northern part of Nikko. The town is built around the Yunishigawa river and is essentially a smaller, local version of the famous Kinugawa onsen area. 

The only way to get to this area is either by car or bus, running every half hour, from the Yunishigawa Onsen station.

Yunishigawa is definitely not your average tourist spot and this off the beaten path location is filled with nature and breathtaking landscapes. Besides being an onsen town, the area is also famous for the Kamakura festival in the winter, where small snow huts are made all around the city with candle lights inside.

How to Get There

From Tokyo, you can ride the Tobu Limited Express Revaty Aizu line from Asakusa Station straight to Yunishigawa Onsen station.

From Yunishigawa Onsen station, take a bus that stops at “Honke Bankyu Ryokan Mae”. Note that there are only a few buses per day and the last bus runs at 5:10pm. You can see the timetable here.

Check-In Process

The check in process was nothing out of the ordinary. They explained to us information about our stay and guided us to our room. Although we are not sure if there is English assistance, you just need to confirm the following information:

  • accommodation details 
  • time frame for dinner and breakfast
  • make reservation for the private onsen if desired

Having a translator app like Google Translate can be a big help so make sure to download the offline Japanese translation set before starting your trip!

The Room

The room itself was a typical Japanese ryokan room. On one side, there was a low table on tatami mat flooring with seat cushions. Near the window was the sleeping area with a nice view of the other side of the river.


The room comes with basic amenities: towels, toothbrush, and a yugata to wear after the onsen. There is also an AC/heater for the hot and cold seasons and a TV. The ryokan also had WiFi, but it was only available in the lobby area.

Room Plans

There were 3 different room plans:

  • room with no bath – room only has a bathroom and shower
  • room with semi open air bath – room comes with a wooden hot spring bath and has a window 
  • room with open air bath – room comes with a complete open air bath next to the riverside

We decided to go with the semi open air bath since it was in the middle, but since we reserved the private onsen, we ended up not using the semi open air bath that was in our room.

The Service

The service is nothing different than what you’d expect at a typical ryokan, but the staff were all very kind, hardworking people. 

The Onsen

Honke Bankyu has a public onsen and 3 reservable private onsens. Even though both onsens have an open view towards the river, they’re carefully designed and positioned so that you can’t peak in from the outside, so rest assured. 

The private onsens are a smaller version of the public ones and are not separated by gender so they’re great for couples or families. It’s also an option for those that have tattoos and can’t enter the public onsen.

We decided to reserve the very last time slot for the private onsen, from 10:15pm to 11:00pm, which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Since the onsens have an open-air bath, you get a nice view of the river during the daytime, but complete darkness at night. The dark view was actually quite nice, but since our onsen becomes one of the few lit up spots in the area, moths started coming in and flying around.

Lesson learned: reserve an earlier time slot for an outdoor private onsen, especially if it’s next to a river.


The dining experience was definitely the highlight of our stay. As mentioned before, the dining hall was located across the river and we had to cross Honke Bankyu’s private bridge in order to get there. We stayed on a rainy day, so we used the ryokan’s own Japanese umbrella to keep us dry.

Once we arrived at our private dining room, we noticed two things: the menu and the mini fire pit built into the table. The menu was a true work of art and there were so many items that it looks like a calligraphy poem. 

The mini fire pit was also awesome and we’ve never seen anything like it before. They already had fish and vegetable skewers cooking in the fire pit while we started to receive the appetizers.

Just like any ryokan dinner, the first few dishes leave you hungry and wanting more of each, but towards the end, you’re so stuffed yet they’re still bringing out more food.

Nevertheless, there was so much care put into every dish.

The Price

For our room with semi open air bath, breakfast, and dinner for 2, we paid roughly 57,000 yen in total, which we thought wasn’t a bad deal for a historical, 4-star ryokan. The dinner course by itself could easily be about 15,000 yen per person, so it definitely felt worth the money. 

In Summary

What we Loved

  • Dinner course
  • Abundance of open air onsen baths next to the river
  • Views from our room and the lobby
  • Private bridge

What could’ve been better

  • Having WiFi inside the rooms
  • Better English assistance

Final Thoughts

We thoroughly loved our stay here and next time, we would love to come in the winter to see the Kamakura festival throughout the city. 

The only drawbacks are that the Yunishigawa area is hard to reach and there’s not a lot of English assistance in this area. Other than that, spending a weekend getaway at a historical ryokan was one of the highlights of our 2019!

Tell us about some ryokans you’ve stayed at in the comments below!


What it’s Like Living in the Most Desired Place in Tokyo

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.

About Kichijoji

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.

Convenient Location

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.

Never Overcrowded

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 (]

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!