A guide to the neighbourhood that inspired us
It’s a district known for its music and vintage shopping scene, and it also inspired our new line of travel accessories laptop cases, wash bags and shoe bags. As tribute, we navigate through the best spots in Japan’s coolest neighbourhood that inspired our line of ballistic nylon essentials made to suit a fast-paced lifestyle.
Kōenji: how to get there
Kōenjikita, Suginami, Tokyo 166-0002
Kōenji is a neighbourhood located in Western Tokyo. To get there, just hop on a train from Shinjuku station for about 15 minutes and you’ll find yourself in the exciting district making waves as Tokyo’s most up and coming area. Evocative of pre-’80s Tokyo, Kōenji’s graffiti-decorated streets are lined with vintage stores, quaint houses and a fast-paced, lively energy.
Where to sleep...
BnA Hotel, 2 Chome-4-7 Koenjikita, 杉並区 Tokyo 166-0002
…and support your local Japanese artists at the same time. Looking to get the full Kōenji experience? Rest your head in your very own unique live-in gallery at the BnA Hotel. That’s because BnA is actually an art project, sparked by the intention to fuse the artist with the traveller, in which both worlds mutually benefit the other. An accommodation that promises to be a feast for your eyes, whether you’re resting them or not.
TOKYO, SUGINAMI-KU, KŌENJIKITA 1-4-12
Where to eat
If you’re looking for the perfect harmony of noodles and broth, then JAC is your go-to ramen joint. You’ll find your new-found soup haven only a few minutes away from Kōenji station. Press the retro vending machine buttons to order, have a seat and enjoy your ramen with egg, tender meat, shikuwasa (Japanese lime) and its signature creamy broth. Say hello to your new ramen pick-me-up.
PAL SHOPPING STREET, 高円寺南
Where to take a walk
With backstreets and alcoves intricately mapping out the neighbourhood, walking almost anywhere in Kōenji is an expedition. When you’re not uncovering all the thrift stores and arcades spontaneously, take a stroll along Pal Shopping Street. There, you’ll be met with an array of restaurants, retail stores and entertainment. And when you’re done, walk just opposite to stumble upon Poem, a coffee shop whose design is typical to Kōenji’s signature architecture. Order the diligently prepared pour-over coffee and listen to locals chat over jazz floating from the speakers.
Where to vintage shopping
Re'all, Japan, 〒166-0003 Tokyo, Suginami, Kōenjiminami, 4 Chome−29-13 大雅堂マンション１F
Kōenji is renowned for its array of thrift stores – in whatever direction you step. Re’all is certainly one to keep on your list. Located on the first floor of a residential building and tucked away in the back streets, head here for vintage designer garms that are reasonably priced. And as second-hand stores go, Now or Never is another advocate for carefully selected (male-focussed) apparel that is sure to tick your thrift store boxes.
Where to lend an ear
Penguin House Japan, 〒166-0002 Tokyo, Suginami, Koenjikita, 3 Chome−24−8, みすずビル Ｂ１Ｆ
Kōenji is permeated with a thriving vintage clothing scene, impressive street art and its nightlife is just as vivacious. Whatever your jam – whether punk, jazz, rock, funk – you’ll be spoiled for choice of live music. But if you’re looking for a spot guaranteed to stand out, head to Penguin House: a venue notorious for experimental music, a retro interior and psychedelic projections to make each session truly music to your ears.