Sandwiched between Ogikubo and Kichijoji is the atmospheric town of Nishi-Ogikubo which, until recently, has been criminally overlooked as a major player in maintaining the Chuo Line’s fashionable reputation. Nishiogi, as it’s more affectionately known, is a stunning location, delicate with a historic and charming ambience. With a thriving antiques scene, refined and quirky cafes and some seriously atmospheric backstreets, Nishiogi is emerging as one the hippest areas in the Japanese capital.
Known as one of Tokyo’s main antique towns, Nishiogi delivers on its promise. Over fifty antique stores can be found, a trend originally started when people traded their furniture and antique items no longer needed after World War II.
The quiet backstreets deserve exploring and antique stores can be found scattered throughout the area. Nishiogi also plays host to several charming bars and restaurants and has a slightly refined air which makes it the ideal destination for weekend strolls and urban exploration. Nishiogi was once an affluent area where upper class Tokyoites held second weekend homes and after the war many of the mansions were sold along with their contents which included a treasure chest of antiques which led, naturally, to a thriving trade in Japanese antiquities.
One of Nishiogi’s most-loved antique stores is Kidoairaku (otherwise known as Antiques Watanabe). Compact, choc-a-block full of antiques from various historical eras it’s become the first stop on any antique lovers’ itineraries. Situated next to Kidoairaku is another charming antiques store named Tori Tori. This store is also compact but, like its neighbor, is packed full of personality. Tori Tori specializes in several areas of antiques including miniatures and a fine display of hinakazari (dolls used at Hinamatsuri events to pray for girls' healthy growth and happiness). Re:gendo, a Shimane-themed cafe which opened in 2011, is also an apparel and arts and crafts store which is housed in an historic structure in the backstreets of Nishiogi.
The Nishiogi no Asaichi morning market has been in operation since 1975 and can be found at Shinmei street (2 min from the station). It runs between 8am–11am every third Sunday of the month. The Hiruichi lunch market is a popular lunch spot found at Yanagikoji (in front of the south exit) and runs from 11am–4pm also on every third Sunday.
Nishi-Ogikubo is essentially a village with its own identity, voice and cultural mannerisms. Quiet, slow-paced but only 15 minutes from Shinjuku, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air and a town deserving of any visitor’s time.