Now one of Japan’s centres of alternative youth subculture, until the 1920s Koenji was a relatively unremarkable, docile farmland commune. The destructive effect of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 saw an en-masse influx of Tokyoite labourers to the district in response, and in subsequent decades its relocated population has contributed to a rapid and radical cultural expansion. Modern-day Koenji remains a focal point of music, art and fashion whilst retaining a deep-rooted antiquated allure.
With 30 local beers on tap, the Craft Beer Market is a Koenji favourite with visitors and locals alike. Simple, easy-going and effortlessly cool, CBM offers beers from breweries all around Japan and accompanies its extensive drink selection with a delicious satisfying menu focused around the charcoal grill in the open kitchen.
The Bed & Art Hotel is a fascinating project which aims to integrate the works of contemporary Japanese artists into a unique, modern lodging house. Complete with a brand new exhibition space in its basement, artists receive commissions from each booking made at the boutique hotel. In a country culturally reluctant to display art in privately owned properties, BnA is beautiful and weird, and staying here provides a creative and cultural experience impossible to attain in any traditional accommodation in Japan.
The refreshing old-school charm of Kosugi-yu public bath house has been drawing in Tokyo’s most unique and eccentric characters since 1933. Minimalist tiles and hand-painted Japanese landscapes adorn the walls of dozy spa rooms, contained by a building renowned for its iconic Chinese gabled exterior. This public bath is something of a routine for locals so prepare for an afternoon of soaking and relaxing with the regulars.