No Friend As Loyal As A Book

Said Ernest Hemingway. And perhaps I am in half-agreement, as there are two types of stores that I can spend hours lost inside: bookstores and record stores. It’s no secret that Koenji is a Tokyo hotbed for political discourse–or at least protest. It was after all the birthplace of Japanese punk, which at one time (before…

A Classical Cafe of Lynchian Appeal

Café Le Violon in Asagaya is a wonderfully queer little place tucked away in Asagaya’s north side. At least to me. I could see a segue in a David Lynch passing through here. But it’s the first classical music café I’ve been to. First appearing in the 1920’s and experiencing their heyday during the 1950’s–a time when…

Tokyo’s. Best. Coffee.

Unfortunately, Tokyo’s best coffee isn’t Koenji or Asagaya. But it is right next door in Nakano, so fortunately falls within the purview of this site under the “Neighbour Clause” (to occasionally include exceptional nouns within the other Suginami-ku neighbourhoods of Ogikubo and Nerima and the adjacent vicinage of Nakano). Anyways, if you enjoy great coffee and the…

Greasy Spoon

If you are looking for trendy or fancy or antiseptic, don’t go to Fuji Lunch (冨士ランチ). But if you want to step back in time for some good ole yoshoku (洋食)–ie: Western inspired Japanese cuisine that came about during the Meiji Restoration–head out Asagaya Station’s North Exit and hang a left down your second side street. There…

Board Game Bonanza

Since the 1970’s the gaming world has been shifting from the manual and mechanical to the digital and (more recently) mobile. The global video game market jumped from zero to $35 billion in its first decade and has since grown to $91.5 billion worldwide. Movies became games, games became movies and even those manual, physical,…

Battle of the Bentos I: Asagaya

The intention and spirit of this site is to bring the best bits and hidden gems of Koenji and Asagaya to the English-reading world. To write about the events and establishments that illuminate its culture and character, especially by featuring the unique, the secret and the exceptional. And to give some ideas about where to shop and eat. Therefore, while a…

Good Morning Okinawa!

Just over a year ago, one of my first posts was about my favourite neighbourhood bakery, Good Morning Asagaya. And earlier this year, I was quite disappointed to say “Good-bye Good Morning Asagaya” as they were closing their doors for good. Perhaps the 600,000 yen monthly rent was too much for a small bakery and four-table café to…

Real, Not Rare, Cheesecake

While you may face considerable challenges trying to procure a big dark pumpernickel round, there is no shortage of good bakeries in Japan. (Of course, there’s also no shortage of mediocre ones.) With a market more saturated than the fat in a stick of Hokkaido butter, it can help to differentiate yourself — even when that…

Shoichi Nejime & Nejime

Being the most populous metropolitan area in the history of the world has both advantages and disadvantages. Tokyo has a spaghetti network of criss-crossing trains and subways that cover nearly every square metre of the city. And it is a great convenience. However, step into one during a rush hour commute and after a few…

New Year’s Sushi

While most people in Japan head back to their hometowns to spend New Year’s with family dining on (osechi ryori / おせち料理), there are many who stick around the city. Similarly, most shops and restaurants are closed for the New Year holiday — but there are those that remain open as well. Fortunately for Koenjagayans, one…

New Year’s Soba … ‘Chya!

If you live (or have lived) in Japan, you are no doubt familiar with toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦 or New Year’s soba). If not, it is Japanese tradition to eat soba on the last of the year, letting go of the hardships endured, with the buckwheat plant representing strength and resiliency. The tradition started sometime during the 250 years…

Autumn Leaves Light Up

One of the best things about autumn in Japan is not only the abundance of, but the appreciation for, koyo (紅葉 or autumn leaves). And one of the great things about Suginami-ku is the abundance of parks. This, of course, means one can enjoy koyo without leaving the city — or maybe even the neighbourhood….