Look Street

Reviews
Photo: Raphael Shogo Fukuda

One of Koenji's several bustling and popular shotengai, Look Street serves as a topographical through point between JR Koenji Station and Shin-Koenji metro station. Coming in at a whopping 660 meters, Look Street has become a destination for vintage lovers and coffeeholics, and offers a window into the world of Koenji's subcultural heritage.

Overview

Address

3-45 Koenji-minami, Suginami, Tokyo 166-0003 (Directions)

Website

http://look.kouenji-street.tokyo/

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Near Look Street

BnA Hotel

BnA Hotel

With Koenji being a "creatives town" it's no surprise that BnA Hotel opened there in 2016 and has had, subsequently, an incredible impact on the local community. BnA (Bed and Art) has other spaces dotted about Tokyo and Kyoto but the Koenji edition is possibly more immersive as the concept is "stay in an artwork." In collaboration with local artists the BnA has created an impressive multi-storey art experiment for art lovers and creatives with a desire to inhabit art. The first floor acts as a front desk and bar which comes alive at night with events and selected DJs. It also hosts Masu Masu onigiri cafe with artists being asked to come and exchange artwork with each other in a gesture which reflects the true spirit of Koenji. With two "living art" twin rooms taking up the second and third floors designed by a seasonal rotation of local artists, guests can engage with and inhabit their art rooms. BnA Koenji also plays host to a rooftop lounge and a basement space which is used for artists residencies where their work is shown to the public and DJ booth and streaming equipment for live performances. With live painting events and an eclectic variety of regular events the BnA Hotel becomes, itself, a living canvas. The BnA believes that it's a machigata hotel meaning that guests should (and encouraged) to interact with Koenji. Use the public sentos, eat in the local restaurants that surround the hotel and buy locally from the multitude of shops, market stalls, bars and cafes which make up the fabric of Koenji. Feted by international press such as The Guardian, BnA acts as a creative network with the concept of serendipity being discussed as the bar becomes an ad hoc meeting place where collaborations and friendships between artists and locals are born. The BnA was also instrumental in a street art festival named MCP (Mural City Project) which was supported by Suginami Ward. MCP was incredibly ambitious and truly communal with the desire to transform and coalesce the community through the creation of public murals. The BnA, Koenji and Suginami spearheaded a public art movement which should be commended and replicated throughout Tokyo.

Tokyo 6 mins away
THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku

THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku

Located right next to Shinjuku Chuo Park, THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku is a modern hotel with an exceptional design and easy access to the nearby Shinjuku train station and the Meiji Shrine. The 14-story hotel building was renovated and reopened in August 2018 as THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku . The western-style rooms offer a park view on the top floor as well as a newly opened terrace suite. The spacious atrium design offers a relaxed atmosphere and connects the restaurant, bar, lounge and lobby with one another. One of the highlights of THE KNOT is the delicious dishes. There are six areas in which food and drinks are offered. From the grill area to high-quality black tea and fresh bread, everything is on offer.

Tokyo 4km away
Suginami City

Suginami City

Tom Roseveare

Suginami City (杉並区, Suginami-ku)  is known as a green residential area which has been made popular thanks to its easy access to the center of Tokyo, being just 10 minutes from Shinjuku by train.  Find a variety of regions, each with their own characteristics, in Suginami. From unique shrines, like Asagaya Shinmeigu, known for warding off bad luck to historical temples, visitors can also encounter unique subcultures. Take Nishi-Ogikubo’s thriving antiques trade, Asagaya’s post-war shopping streets, Koenji’s hipster cafes and vintage boutiques, or Ogikubo’s animation heritage or ramen legacy — each area truly gives a taste of local Japanese life like no other part of Tokyo. Throughout the year, you can enjoy a variety of festivals, like the Tokyo Koenji Awaodori and Asagaya Tanabata Festival, as well as annual events like the cherry blossom season and arrival of the autumn leaves. Visitors can enjoy the various charms of this modern suburban area of Tokyo. Official Suginami Website

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Clouds Art + Coffee

Clouds Art + Coffee

Situated a few minutes stroll from the north exit of JR Koenji Station, Clouds Art + Coffee is a simple affair reflecting the owners' passion for, well, art and coffee. Very chic and sparse, the space is compact with a fine selection of coffee from all over the world such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil which makes it the perfect spot for Tokyo's legion of coffee addicts. The owners curate a healthy mix of artwork from local and international artists and the rotational exhibition system means that regular customers have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the best and most intriguing art from Koenji's thriving art community. There's no censorship at Clouds Art + Coffee and artists are encouraged to represent themselves and their work in a free manner and this means, essentially, that customers can view an eclectic and liberating amount of art hand in hand with some of the finest coffee in Koenji and Tokyo as a whole. Clouds Art + Coffee is, ostensibly, a hub and tryst for art and coffee lovers who come from far and wide to sample international coffee made from the finest beans and art from emerging and established artists.

Tokyo 0.6km away
Harukiya

Harukiya

Ramen has become a global cuisine over the past decade with ramen-ya popping up in cities all over the globe. Millions of visitors, however, flock to Japan every year to experience the real deal. Harukiya, located a few minutes from JR Ogikubo Station, is a Tokyo institution. Established in 1949 it is the originator of Tokyo-style ramen which uses niboshi (dried baby sardines) in its broth and has been serving up first-class soy sauce which hasn’t changed for more than 70 years and has, rightly, earned it a legion of devotees. Although Harukiya has a sister branch in nearby Kichijoji, the Ogikubo store is the original and takes great pride in creating its authentic Tokyo-style chuka soba as well as chashumen and wontonmen. The aroma from the ramen floats into the outside streets having a visible effect on the patrons who queue daily to get their hands on Harukiya’s mouth-watering ramen. Popular with Ogikubo residents and foreign ramen aficionados, Harukiya has a small, curated menu with toppings, cold noodles and a few side dishes which accompany the ramen. Harukiya has led the Tokyo ramen industry for generations and there’s a reason for this. The aromatic soy sauce ramen and hand made noodles which are freshly kneaded every morning have inspired ramen lovers and ramen chefs the world over and will continue to do so for many more years to come.

Tokyo 2.3km away
Re:gendo

Re:gendo

Re:gendo is a cafe, apparel and arts and crafts store found in the quaint backstreets of Nishi-Ogikubo, just a few minutes from the station. It embodies everything about Shimane prefecture, capturing the essence of its history, culture and beauty that help inspire everything on offer here. Located in a spectacular wooden structure, which is said to be around 90 years old, Re:gendo is an homage to Shimane and the staff and owners take great care to display the cultural history of their beloved homeland. It’s a curious space, layed out over two floors. It acts as a thriving restaurant, apparel store, arts and crafts shop and a workshop space which focuses on teaching craftsmanship and culinary skills. The cafe recognizes the nuances involved in Shimane produce such as rice which it uses for its extremely popular, seasonal lunch menus musubi zen and nigiri zen. Musubi zen consists of a main fish or meat dish while nigiri showcases vegetable nigiri sushi. Both courses come with accompaniments including vegetables, pickles and miso soup. The ingredients at Re:gendo are sourced locally in Toyo or from Shimane. The cafe also does a fine collection of sweets (Shimane folk are particularly fond of wagashi or traditional Japanese confectionery). The apparel and crafts section, situated on the first floor adjacent to the cafe includes a range of arts and crafts from Shimane and a curated fashion line which uses a type of non-toxic dye from Shimane so it’s safer for pregnant women or customers with allergies. The second floor hosts regular workshops about local craftsmanship and cuisine. Visitors from all over the world come and participate in workshops and learn the intricacies involved in Shimane’s abundance of specialities. Re:gendo acts, then, as a local hub and a popular attraction for many of Tokyo’s Shimane transplants. Refined, cultured, respectful of ancient traditions and friendly, it should be considered an essential stop on any visit to Nishi-Ogikubo.

Tokyo 4.4km away
Asagaya Pearl Center

Asagaya Pearl Center

Asagaya Pearl Center has been playing a central role in the community for more than 60 years. With its 700-meter long and elegant main street, which resembles a pearl necklace on maps, this shotengai is studded with history, charm and community spirit. Pearl Center also hosts Asagaya's renowned Tanabata Festival which draws huge crowds every year. Asagaya Tanabata is held in August every year to coincide with Tanabata in the old calendar. With yukata-clad kids and adults, huge papier mache installations along the street and stalls selling lots of goodies for visitors, it's an important day in the festival calendar. Pearl Center is one of the venues of Asagaya Jazz Streets whose festival has taken place since 1995, attracting a lot of jazz fans each year. Peal Center has a huge variety of about 250 shops and services including boulangeries, popular liquor stores, kamaboko stores and sweets stores like Tomoean, Chimoto and Toraya. It also hosts a delicatessen popular with foreign customers and a few mobile phone stores which also help non-Japanese residents and tourists with the complexities of setting up a mobile phone or SIM card. There are also stores dealing in kimono and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) which seem to be growing in popularity with foreign guests. A close-knit community with an old-school atmosphere, Pear Center is a welcoming location with an adult atmosphere. Families and children love the peacefulness and charming store owners who have been situated there for decades. Pearl Center serves its community well and with its array of retail and dining opportunities and quaint atmosphere it's no wonder that it's held in the hearts of many Asagaya locals.

Tokyo 1km away
Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine

Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine

Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine (阿佐ヶ谷神明宮) is a real gem of a shrine just a few minutes walk from the north exit of JR Asagaya Station. It's also one of Asagaya's most popular cherry blossom viewing sites and the shrine holds an annual festival, Kan-okai, where dances and songs are performed by shrine members, attracting crowds of people due to its popularity. Shinmeigu also has a long history and is said to date back over 1,000 years and is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. It's incredibly spacious and picturesque and many visitors will be surprised to find such an expanse of space only 10 minutes from Shinjuku on the Chuo Line. The shrine grounds also plays host to a nohgakudo (a noh theater) where dances and performances are held. It's a stunning structure in itself but when placed inside the grounds of such an historic and beautiful shrine it transforms into something more. A mirror of Japanese culture and tradition and an integral part of Japanese history and society. Like most shrines, there are various structures and spaces used for various rituals and it's a good idea to take your time and walk and appreciate the tranquility and total beauty of Shinmeigu Shrine. Before you leave, consider buying some popular souvenirs like Kamimusubi (straps) or other limited-time items.

Tokyo 1.1km away
Star Road

Star Road

A few seconds walk from JR Asagaya visitors will stumble across Star Road, a maze of small bars and cafes which has been serving the good folk of Asagaya for decades. A mini Golden Gai (Shinjuku's in/famous bar area) Star Road isn't exactly a road but a few blocks and streets choc-a-block with eateries, bars, izakaya and local spots serving up everything from afro pop to oden. Very much a local and busy location, the store owners are friendly and welcoming and Star Road has, quite rightly, become a hub for the local community. Although Asagaya is known as a "village" within the confines of Tokyo, it welcomes foreign guests wholeheartedly and some places have English menus available and the odd English speaker thrown in for your convenience. Many of the stores, cafes, music venues and bars there are on the smaller side so arriving early is your best bet just to make sure you grab a table. Don't be surprised if you end up chatting the night away with businesspeople, local artists and musicians as Star Road reflects the eclectic mix of people that make up the human fabric of Asagaya. In fact, Star Road warmly welcomes solo drinkers so don't hesitate to visit if by yourself. One such store you should put on your list when visiting Star Road is the compact but friendly Odenya Yonekyu which has an inviting array of oden (one pot dishes) and beverages with a full roster of local jorensan (regulars). And a visit to live music venue and (very colorful) bar Asagaya Ten is essential. This venue specializes in Afrobeat, pop, jazz, hip-hop and many other genres of music. Affordable and lively, Star Road offers something different than your run-of-the-mill izakaya experience in places like Shinjuku or Shibuya. An authentic shitamachi experience that you will never forget, Star Road has been entertaining locals and for decades now and will continue to do so. There's so much going on in this area with a huge array of izakaya and cafes that you are sure to find your ideal spot that you will, no doubt, keep returning to over and over again. The local store owners even run a drinking festival, Nomiyasan, twice a year where customers can hop in and out of bars and pay discounted prices. It's a great way of finding new places and exploring one of Asagaya's most charming and well-loved areas.

Tokyo 1.2km away
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