It would take no less than a half-day to visit Koenji, an area located in Suginami Ward, Tokyo. You would first be amazed by its large numbers of shops, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and izakaya. Then you would be drawn to its second-hand clothing shops. Later you probably want to pay respects by visiting the temples and shrines surrounding the area. Finally, you might want to go back or even start your journey from the beginning, because you can’t stop thinking of the cute little hat that you saw earlier in one of the stores.
Yes, Koenji definitely has a lot of things to offer! To begin your journey, simply head out from the JR Koenji Station and decide which way that you want to go. Koenji features two shopping arcades, PAL at the south and Nakano Sanmoru at the north part of the station. Both act as your gateways to fully experience Koenji.
If you choose to go to the south, numerous tenants at the covered PAL arcade will greet you with its selection of food, clothing, discounts and other promotional offers. Keep walking until you reach the end of the arcade and soon you will arrive at Look Street, a haven of used-clothing.
Aside from other famous areas—Harajuku and Shimokitazawa—Koenji has currently become one of the centers of alternative youth culture, mostly centered along Look Street. The area is not only filled with second-hand clothing shops, selling retro to present-day fashion apparels and accessories, but also toys and collectible items, antiques, tattoo parlors, restaurants, delis and coffee shops.
If you wish to venture the north, you will see a triangular shaped gate. Walk past it to enter Nakano Sanmoru and wander around the area. The street is crammed with grocery and meat stores, ramen shops, restaurants and supermarkets.
Koenji is also home to temples and shrines, mostly in close vicinity of the station. Even the name of the district, Koenji, was derived from one of the temples. It is located only 350 meters away or approximately 5 minutes of walking from the south exit/entrance.
If you feel like taking a quick break, just head over to the parks to enjoy a more serene ambience. There are three parks that you can visit. One of them is Sanshinomori. It has a rocky waterfall and a large pond, each offers its own beautiful scenery, enough for you to unwind from a tiring day of shopping and exploring.