Smoke-Free-Baby-Friendly Izakaya

NOTE: This post was actually written in December 2016. I think I was waiting to edit some photos before hitting PUBLISH. However, seeing as this site has been gasping for breath on life support for the past 18 months, I decided I should get uploading. Having a kid and writing two novels can evidently keep…

Koenjagaya Massive Triple Event Weekend

One of the great things about Koenji and Asagaya is the number of cool events taking place on a regular basis. One week might be a festival of circus performers, magicians and buskers on the side streets of Koenji, while the next weekend could be a Hawaiian Festival in Asagaya. Only to be followed by…

Tanabata Trumps All

An increase in Asagaya’s population by one has kept me rather busy lately. However, between diaper changes, I did find time to take a quick stroll down Pearl Shotengai for this years Tanabata Festival. There were, of course, the standard players–Toy Story, Minions, Doraemon and Anpanman. Nejime had their traditional Japanese display done in colourful fabrics. Inageya…

Precious People-Watching Moments

Now I generally don’t like to promote corporations or chain stores, but I’ll make an exception in this case because of three key factors invaluable to travellers and wanderers–power, people and wi-fi. Anybody who’s spent 30 seconds in Japan is familiar with UCC–the ubiquitous canned coffee in vending machines throughout the nation. The U in UCC stands…

Double Street Day in Asagaya Tomorrow

There are two street events worth visiting tomorrow. Sure, it’s short notice, but then again, this isn’t really a blog about upcoming events. The first, which I have mentioned before in this post here, is Asagaya Morning Market (“Asaichi” or 朝市)on Shouwakai, a few minutes north of Asagaya Station. As it’s name suggest, it’s good to head there…

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…

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…

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 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…

“KoenjiFes” Street Festival 2015

This past weekend (Oct 31-Nov 1) Koenji played host to its ever-growing street festival called Koenjifes. Just more to add to the towering pile of evidence that Koenjagaya is the coolest district in Tokyo. Koenjifes is a two-day street festival that began just a few years ago in 2011. Up and down the village’s many…

Event of the Year: 59th Koenji Awa-odori

Perhaps the most important festival in the country — nay the world — is upon us. The Koenji Awa-odori Festival is in full-swing. After a misty but more or less rain-free day yesterday, the festival continues today with the ren (dance groups) doing their thing from 5pm-8pm. The Koenji Awa-odori has grown to be counted…

61st Asagaya Tanabata Festival

Dating back to 755 AD in Japan, Asagaya has hosted its own annual Tanabata Matsuri (Seventh Night Festival) since 1954. Tanabata festivals are held throughout Japan, some held in July and some in August. While timing and traditions vary by region they usually involve some form of decoration display or competition. The Suginami-ku Tanabata Festival…