Dodge the heaving crowds that span labyrinthine Shinjuku, the world’s busiest station, and escape the salarymen and skyscrapers by heading less than ten minutes west – to Koenji. With its hip vintage stores, old school music scene and creative young locals, Koenji is the place to head for a dose of laid back Tokyo charm.
Wander down a lantern-lit alleyway near the station and discover crowds of locals, young and old, spilling outside a string of bars and Japanese-style ‘izakaya’ pubs, noisily clanking ‘kampai’ (cheers!) with their beers. Head to Taisho for delicious yakitori – aka food grilled on a stick. Sit outside on wobbly stools at tables fashioned from beer crates and tuck into plate after plate of delicious grilled food – from tsukune chicken meat balls to melt in the mouth liver – washed down with draft beer. An authentic glimpse of local Tokyo and not a skyscraper in sight.