Northside Asagaya is a hip, bohemian enclave of easily a hundred bars, pubs, restaurants, wine bars, snack pubs, coffee shops, and assorted spots for entertainment.
Spots like Buchi Yakiniku (above), or what must be Tokyo’s narrowest Italian restaurant, the newly-opened Don Tsucchi, barely wider that its double door entrance.
Lovely little shops like the art gallery/milk bar, Inelle, (below) are crowded up against raucous-sounding bars like Jamb Jamb and bars overgrown with potted plants and lost umbrellas hanging from door jambs.
Left out of the station and left again takes you into the delta area called Star Road, the main branch of which runs parallel to the tracks. But like any great river, Star Road is fed by many smaller alleys, lanes, and passageways, all of which also seem to be named Star Road.
The bars, shops, pubs and eateries are crowded shoulder to shoulder, like passengers on a rush hour train. There are coffee shops open for breakfast and joints that open only after 10 pm, places for Japanese saké and places for “Jazz ‘N Boozz.”
Most of the places are slowly deteriorating into rust and sun-rotted wood. But the owners, both young and old, have spunk and grit: new wire will hold up a sagging sign, a poster thumb-tacked to a door will serve as remodeling, and a fresh coat of paint on the door will hopefully attract enough customers to pay the bills.
Anywhere along your way down Star Road, look up and you’ll see a Tokyo trademark—the skein of power lines and telephone wires, connecting each place to every other place in a web of electric energy.
Reserve an evening for wandering about North- and Southside Asagaya. Then, on another night, do the same for other equally worthwhile “boozz” and nightlife destinations along the Chuo Line: Kichijoji, Ogikubo, Nishi-Ogikubo, Koenji, and Nakano.