Asagaya is, it could be said, a curious town. Unlike Koenji and Ogikubo, its neighbors on the Chuo Line, Asagaya's elegant refinement and shitamachi vibes are essentially a paradox. It encompasses both high and low, sophistication and solitude with bar-filled backstreets and old-school ambience.
It's a gentile location and markedly different from other stops on the Chuo Line. Expect tranquil temples and shrines, a broad selection of retail options from new to post-war shotengai in addition to sightseeing spots. It's, ostensibly, known for being more of a town for adults which is in stark contrast to nearby areas of Nakano and Koenji which are renowned more for youth culture.
Shotengai are the veins that run through most towns in Tokyo. They are the lifeblood of many communities and Asagaya's Pearl Center plays such a role. Established in the post-war period it hosts, like most shotengai, an eclectic spectrum of stores, cafes and restaurants. It also hosts the hugely popular Tanabata festival in August as well as being a venue for the Asagaya Jazz Street event in October.
Located nearby is a block of small bars and restaurants which cements Asagaya's reputation as a kind of shitamachi town. Known as Star Road, it's like a mini Golden Gai (Shinjuku's famed bar area) with tons of character and atmosphere. With fantastic bars and local eateries serving Japanese food such as oden, it's a must for those hankering for a proper drink in an old-time neighborhood.
Asagaya isn't just about food and retail. It has history and culture in abundance. A few minutes walk from the JR station, Asagaya morphs from a shitamachi town into an area of class and refinement seen by the plethora of temples and shrines which ooze tranquillity. One such example of this is seen in the majestic presence of Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine which is vast and offers visitors some truly amazing photographic opportunities.
Asagaya is a residential neighborhood perfect for families and adults looking for the quiet things in life within the capital city. Friendly with a lot of old-school charm, it's a town which is proud of its all-encompassing character. It's essentially a geographical bridge between upper-class sophistication and low-end authenticity and unpretentiousness.
Asagaya can be reached from via Tokyo’s JR Chuo Line. It’s an 8-minute train ride just 3 stops west of Shinjuku.