Kichijoji — a western suburb of the sprawling Tokyo metropolis — is a bustling and very popular residential neighbourhood. More affordable than central Tokyo yet well connected to the capital via the Chuo and Sobu train lines and a network of buses, this leafy area is particularly beloved of students and young professionals due to its alternative culture and music venues.
Popular and just out of town
Last year Kichijoji topped Japanese property portal SUUMO’s annual survey of the most desirable places to live in greater Tokyo. Transport links are a draw: the Chuo train line runs from Kichijoji directly to Tokyo’s commercial and administrative centre in about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Sobu line connects Kichijoji with the university district of Ochanomizu, the commercial hub of Akihabara and onward to the eastern prefecture of Chiba, known for its historic Buddhist temple Naritasan Shinshō-ji and Tokyo’s sprawling Disney resort.
Cheaper than Tokyo proper
Sonny Saito, chief executive of Japan Capital Realty, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, says Kichijoji’s popularity with first-time homebuyers has rocketed over the past five years. While apartments near the station are particularly sought after, detached family houses in the surrounding area are also in great demand.
According to Yukkiko Takano, senior sales manager at List Sotheby's International Realty, Kichijoji property prices per square metre increased by 17.2 per cent between 2013 and 2017, reaching an average of Y1.302652m ($12,300) per square metre last year. Yet this is still only 40 per cent of the average price in the central business district of Minato Ku, which reached Y3.282508m per square metre in 2017.
Not everyone in Tokyo can afford to live near a green space, but Kichijoji residents have the celebrated Inokashira Koen park on their doorstep. The park is known for its cherry blossom during hanami (flower-viewing) season, typically in March and April. The park’s 600 cherry trees attract an eclectic crowd of visitors every spring, but the space remains a popular retreat throughout the year.
Kichijoji is home to the Ghibli Museum, a tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, who produced such animated classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Recently renovated, the museum contains exhibits such as a zoetrope, a theatre screening exclusive animation clips and a life-sized “Catbus” recreating the legendary furry vehicle from My Neighbor Totoro.
Jazz culture is a standout feature of the suburb. Sunny Road, a bustling covered arcade with an entrance just off Kichijoji station, is home to Piano Hall Sometime, one of Tokyo’s premier jazz venues. Opened in 1975, this basement club draws in younger locals and creatives, and features live shows every night.
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