Over the years, Koenji has built it's reputation as the center of live music scene in Tokyo. In the 70s, it became the ground zero for Japan’s punk scene, and to this day it’s home to many musicians. Peppered with underground music venues and studios, many notable musicians in Japan lived here and worked in its countless vintage clothes shops before making it. A number of music venues (“Live houses”) and music bars offer a good selection of live music all week, from punk to jazz, pop and more.
Vintage clothes shops
Koenji is known as the vintage clothes shop neighborhood, with the most number of vintage clothes shops in Tokyo. Over a hundred well curated shops are scattered around the area, and offers a true treasure hunt experience to the fashion conscious visitors. Compared to it’s rivals, Harajuku and Shimokitazawa, Koenji’s shops are more individually owned, with distinct character/taste from shop to shop.
Koenji, and Chuo Line in general, has traditionally been home to many artists. BnA is trying to build an art scene here and turn Koenji into the art neighborhood of Tokyo. Along with BnA, we also operate a separate gallery space AMP café (ampcafe.jp).
Chim-Pom, a known Japanese artist collective recently set their home in Koenji, and hosts a variety of underground art shows in their space in Kitakore-biru.
Food & Nightlife
Koenji’s lantern-lit narrow streets are filled with small bars and eateries that offers a variety of cuisines at a budget price all night. “Hashigo” (or “laddering”), where people hop bar to bar all night is the preferred style here.
Koenji is home to an eclectic community of people - musicians, artists, Marxists, students, and old time landlords - all united under their fierce love for Koenji’s unique culture.
Despite its proximity to the sprawling metropolis of Shinjuku, Koenji maintains a refreshing resistance to development. Through supporting the area’s many small “mom and pop” businesses, residents manage to preserve a distinct sense of community and cultural depth. Koenji boasts 12 lively “shotengai” or shopping promenades, full of individually owned shops and restaurants, which makes it a unique and fun neighborhood to explore.
These factors merge to form an overall vibe that’s charming, free-spirited, and delightfully strange, evidenced in the citizens’ selection of a magic mushroom named “Mr. Psyche Delhi” as their town mascot.