The district of Koenjagaya is not known as “Koenjagaya”. Not yet, anyway. I simply created a portmanteau of the adjoining (and complementary) neighbourhoods of Koenji and Asagaya in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward to describe this incredible area. The loose boundaries of Koenjagaya fall within and around the near-square formed by The Four Stations: Asagaya, Koenji, Shin-Koenji and Minami-Asagaya. From a driver’s perspective, its borders of main roads is: Nakasugi Dori (west), Waseda Dori (north), Kannana Dori (east), and Ome Kaido (south).
I’ve been living in Tokyo’s Suginami-ku for near on eight years, about 4 years in Koenji and 5 in Asagaya. I’d never live anywhere else… in Tokyo. It’s changed a lot since I first arrived in 2007, but that’s what happens. The Powers That Be have continued on their quest to clean up and gentrify and sanitize and borify every inch of Tokyo. The corporate chains (Pronto, FamilyMart, etc.) have been creeping in. Especially after the renovation of Koenji Station which took place from 2006 – 2008. It was a great atmosphere before The Renovation. Buskers playing around every corner, skaters grinding curbs and ollying benches. With the completion of The Renovation, came companies and signs and cops saying “No Music”, No Skating”, “No Fun”.
While Koenji is considered the birth place of Japanese punk, Asagaya can be considered one of the wellsprings of Japanese jazz. However, the apparent punk/jazz dichotomy is not as divergent as one might expect. This may be, partially at least, due to the non-confrontational culture forming the foundation, but they share more commonalities than differences. Both are subcultures rooted strongly in music, particularly small venues live performances. Asagaya has hosted an annual jazz festival for the past 20 years and it has grown immensely. The neighborhood has also undergone its own gentrification, with its shotengai (shopping arcade) cleaned up considerably over the past decade.
But all hope is not lost. The pulse is still strong. Sometimes you may need to look a little harder, but it’s there. So I made this site.