• As the sun begins to set over Koenji, homebound locals arriving on the Chuo line head west out of the station and slip out of sight under the elevated train tracks. Entering the concealed underbelly of the station known as Koenji Street, smells of sizzling gyoza and fried chicken drift out of the mish mash of eateries while the laidback laughs of regular imbibers fill the tunnel like street with a comforting buzz.

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    An undeniable lack of space for the 13 million people of Tokyo has seen businesses open up in every nook and cranny of its web of streets. Filling the spaces under train stations (known as gardo shita) with restaurants and bars is a common practice, with the highest concentration clustered around Tokyo’s business districts where izakaya heave with workers from 5 pm onwards.

    Unique in all its forms, the izakaya found in Koenji’s gardo shita don’t attract the typical demographic where you’ll find an unmistakable absence of suits; Salarymen are replaced with a more relaxed crowd of both young and old who come to socialise in one of the less pretentious corners of one of the capital’s favourite hipster hoods.

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    Much of the charm of Koenji and one of the main reasons for its “underground” label lies in its inconspicuous establishments. While no secret to most Koenji regulars, first timers stumbling across Koenji Street are sure to feel a satisfaction in this rare find where a subtle balance of congeniality and local cool have been well and truly mastered. The bulk of the shop fronts are occupied by customary izakaya as well as a handful of second hand book stores. A favourite drinking spot among Koenji’s younger crowd is Gyoza dokoro Tachibana much thanks to the five free fried dumplings which are served up with every drink you order.

    Koenji Street Night Bar Tico

    Koenji Street Night Bar Tico

    In true Koenji style, Tico bar introduces some alternative vibes into the passage starting with the long wooden bar lined with an unusual concoction of homemade liqueurs. Paying the seat charge is rewarded with an unlimited stash of nuts that you’re invited to crack onto the floor, which bartender Naoki explains is all part of the experience. Soak up the atmosphere while sipping on a black pepper gin or an orange infused whiskey before.

    Koenji Street Night Bar Tico

    Koenji Street Night Bar Tico

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    Koenji Street: Under the Tracks

    In a city where limited space and traffic heavy roads make al fresco dining hard to come by, the izakaya that spill out onto the streets from under the station are a welcome extension of Koenji Street. Symbolising the arrival of summer, the bustling outdoor seating that lines the rail tracks incites a joyful feeling as you sit among locals enjoying an ice cold beer on a warm evening.

    Gyozashotachibana
    rating

    4.0

    2 Reviews
    place
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Kouenjiminami 3-69-1
    phone
    0333302658
    BARtico Koenji
    place
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Koenjiminami 3-68-1

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