Kichijoji - Spend a Day Immersed in the World of Studio Ghibli Along the Keio Inokashira Line

Are you a fan of Ghibli or just looking to spend a memorable day in Japan? For this edition of our “Area of Japan” series, follow one of our editors in her exploration of the picturesque neighborhood of Kichijoji along the Keio Inokashira Line and get ready for a full-day itinerary amongst some of Tokyo’s most colorful nooks and crannies. Not only is Kichijoji located near a must-visit spot for all Studio Ghibli lovers, the Ghibli Museum, but it also hosts plenty of cafes, tea houses, and shops that will instantly remind you of a scene from a Ghibli movie!

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Kichijoji - A Quaint Neighborhood That Looks Like It’s Straight Out Of a Ghibli Movie

Located in the Western suburban area of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, not far from hectic Shibuya, Kichijoji offers the best of both worlds: a plethora of shops and eateries, as well as a wealth of activities, all while being far enough from the city center to ensure peaceful moments away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo! Kichijoji’s blend of convenience and nature is so perfectly balanced that it makes the neighborhood constantly top the annual list of places that Tokyoites want to live in.

Whenever in Kichijoji, I enjoy imagining myself as one of the fashionable residents of this coveted neighborhood while venturing into the maze of small roads and following the panorama of low-rise buildings cocooned in greenery till my steps lead to some unexpected discovery, may it be a hidden cafe or a shop housing gorgeous Japanese antiques. 

Right outside the north exit is where I immerse myself in the livelier side of Kichijoji, with the area split into a series of old-fashioned shopping arcades, Daiyagai and Sun Road, packed with great dining and shopping options. At sunset, the area turns into a lantern-lit mirage, tinged in red and shadows, when stepping into the nearby Harmonica Yokocho, a charming, narrow line of tiny standing bars patronized by locals which is ideal for those wanting an evening of authentic Japanese food and drink. 

Don’t limit your exploration to the station’s vibrant surroundings - in Kichijoji, there’s something for any type of explorer! Wander further north or head to the south side of the station, and that’s where I know Kichijoji’s sleepy residential areas are quietly waiting for me. They nurture secluded cafes, bistros, and stores that makes for a great hideaway when I’m looking for some peace and quiet.

The Ghibli Museum also is within walking distance from the station, lying behind the blanket of thick vegetation that is Kichijoji’s main green space, Inokashira Park. As a Ghibli enthusiast myself, the museum is a must-visit: a door to the colorful world of Studio Ghibli that any fan shouldn’t miss. Plus, the neighborhood is dotted with nooks embodying the magical atmosphere seen in Studio Ghibli’s movies, allowing me (and any fellow fans) to enjoy a full Ghibli-themed itinerary that will make the trip to Kichijoji all the more special. Here are some of my favorites!

Recommended Hotels to Explore Kichijoji

totoro house - Stay at This Cozy Ghibli-Themed Apartment to Fully Enjoy the Magic of Studio Ghibli

You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!

5 Spots Near and Around Kichijoji That Studio Ghibli Fans Should Visit

You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!

1. Ghibli Museum - Bask In the Art of Studio Ghibli

The colorful Ghibli Museum stands half covered in ivy and “eaten away” by wild plants, shaded by the tall trees of Inokashira Park. Designed by Studio Ghibli’s founder himself, Hayao Miyazaki, it’s a place of wonder dedicated to everything Ghibli. A visit here offers the chance to see drawings of Studio Ghibli movies, exclusive short films in the museum’s small theater, and special exhibitions that change annually.

Far from your usual museum, the Ghibli Museum was designed to be a space where visitors can feel at home. There’s no predetermined course as the building is meant more to encapsulate Studio Ghibli’s artistic spirit while giving insights into animation as a whole. Spaces around its premises can be interpreted and enjoyed freely, whether you'd prefer to ponder, explore, or simply dive into the serene atmosphere, making it a place that never ceases to soothe my Ghibli-loving soul! The museum also houses a shop filled with character merchandise and original goods that can only be bought at the museum, as well as a cafe where, completely surrounded by the park’s greenery, you can relax in nature and snack on some Ghibli-themed treats.

Although I visited the museum a couple of times already, I can’t help but be mesmerized by the interiors every time. The marvelous rooms never fail to transport me into the world of Hayao Miyazaki, and the strange buildings which often appear in his movies, with hand-crafted windows and lamps of stained glass projecting splashes of color on floors and walls; decor entwining Ghibli characters, plants, and flowers; and the open space of the main hall soaring in a skein of stairways, bridged passages, and overhanging terraces, are always a joy to explore. You can even meet some of the Studio’s beloved characters like Totoro welcoming visitors by the museum gates or the Robot Soldier from “Castle in the Sky” watching over the museum from the rooftop.

If you are planning to visit the museum, make sure to get your tickets as soon as they are available online as admission is by advance reservation only. Tickets go on sale every 10th of the month at 10:00 am (JST) for the following month and are good only for the specified date and time of entry, with no set exit times.

Another way to secure your tickets is with the fun "Tokyo Ghibli Museum and Inokashira Park Walking Tour." Enriched by the explanations of local guides, this tour lets you experience the wonders of the Ghibli Museum as well as take a leisurely stroll at Inokashira Park and its charming surroundings!

*The tour is currently unavailable but please check back periodically as it quickly sells out around the dates when new tickets for the museum are released.

2. Hattifnatt Kichijoji no Ouchi - Jump Into a Picture Book at This Colorful Cafe

A mint-green facade, plants, and a tiny door you have to squeeze yourself into are just a taste of the magic housed within the walls of one of Kichijoji’s dreamiest cafes, Hattifnatt. Only a 23-minute walk or a 18-minute bus ride from the Ghibli Museum, not far from Kichijoji Station, Hattifnatt suddenly appears in the middle of a tranquil, and otherwise rather ordinary, residential area with its unmistakably colorful figure!

Not only does the position makes the entrance look more like a secret side door no one knows about, but also its size is not a random stylistic choice, as it is designed with the height of a child in mind so that adults have to stoop down and physically return to their childhood for a moment in order to set foot in the cafe. I pulled the handle and lowered my own head, ready to wander into the world of colors and tales awaiting inside, then followed a straight wooden corridor to a narrow set of stairs and another tiny door. It almost felt like a quest to discover an extraordinary prize!

The name “Hattifnatt” itself is a hint on the cafe’s concept as it refers to Swedish folktale creatures appearing in the Moomins novel series. Hattifnatt’s second floor particularly shows this as it is populated by a crowd of cute creatures, animals, and plants illustrated by the Japanese artist duo “Marini Monteany” who has worked on numerous children books. The walls look like pages of a picture book, filling the space from floor to ceiling with a myriads of colorful details. “Leaf” through each corner of the room and wander into the depths of this enchanted forest, and you’ll soon feel like part of the story yourself! 

I enjoyed the cheerful ambience as well as the food which was a perfect match for such a joyous setting. Although they’re famous for their incredibly cute latte art, adorning a selection of hot beverages and delicious sweets with bears and other adorable characters, the menu also offers several savory options like “tako no tako raisu” (octopus and a variety of other toppings on rice) or gratin. 

Some of my favorite sweet treats include the “Ichigo Chan” pie which is a mouth-watering mix of strawberries, chocolate, and custard on a crispy tart and the “Zeitaku Nama Choko Yaki” cake which is made with the finest Belgian chocolate and carefully baked to perfection, balancing the bitterness of the chocolate with delicious layers of fresh cream and raspberry compote. One of Hattifnatt’s signature beverages usually completes my meal, and I often go for either their matcha latte (pictured above) which is neither too bitter nor too sweet or opt for their “Shirokuma Kun” caramel latte with homemade caramel sauce, fresh cream and a cute polar bear latte art. 

Check us out first for your Japan trip! Plenty of info on Japan hotels, tours, and experiences.

3. Inokashira Park - Kichijoji’s Picturesque Green Oasis That Will Soothe Your Spirit

Kichijoji’s vast Inokashira Park is another great spot to spend time before or after a visit to the Ghibli Museum that, with its abundant nature, will surely remind you of the scenery seen in many of the studio’s movies. 

If you are coming from Shibuya Station, get off at Inokashira Koen Station which is only a few minutes away from the park. There, you can view trains running along the Keio Inokashira Line and passing through the trees on an elevated rail bridge; quite an unusual and hypnotizing scene to witness!

Depicted in Utagawa's "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo" ukiyo-e series and other works, Inokashira Park’s pond has been a famous scenic spot since the Edo period (1603 - 1868) as well as one of Tokyo’s main sources of water in the past. The land became an imperial estate during the Meiji period (1868 - 1912) but it was then granted to the city of Tokyo that, in 1917, decided to open it as Tokyo’s first suburban park. Inokashira Park has been a place of relaxation since, providing an escape to nature within the city.

Today, Inokashira Park is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora and is extremely popular among locals and visitors alike, especially during the cherry blossom season when 400 cherry trees bloom, spreading their branches over the pond and create magnificent reflections over the water, as well as during the autumn foliage season when gorgeous red hues brighten up the panorama. 

People come to Inokashira Park to unwind in many different ways! I sometimes just enjoy strolling through the park’s trail and bridges, taking in the splendor of its wilderness, gazing at the pond, grabbing a coffee at one of the cafes within the park, sitting on a bench and reading - I’ve even seen locals paint before! Inside the park are several restaurants, playgrounds, sport facilities, and a zoo, ensuring anyone can find something fun to do when visiting! 

The centerpiece of the park is the Inokashira Pond where you can rent rowboats or pedal boats to explore the surroundings from a different perspective. This time, I jumped into one of the cute swan pedal boats available, as it might be a means of transport a Ghibli character would useーor so I thought, and had a tour of the lake. They are surprisingly easy to maneuver and allow you to refresh yourself by the water on hotter days. In spring, the edge of the Inokashira Pond is surrounded by cherry blossoms, so renting a boat is also a splendid and inexpensive way to appreciate the flowers from up close! 

The final stop of my jaunts across the park is usually Inokashira Benzaiten. Benzaiten is a deity associated with water, so temples and shrines where she is worshiped are often found near some source of water. Surrounded by the lake on three sides, the temple seems like it’s floating on water, with fragments of its vermillion buildings appearing and disappearing amidst the thick, luscious vegetation as you move around it. The only way to access the temple is through a bridge which makes the visit even more exciting. Distinctive of some of Benzaiten’s temples is the “zeniarai” ritual which consists of washing coins, and sometimes even bills, in water to bring good fortune and business prosperity. You can try it here at Inokashira Benzaiten! 

Kichijoji Petit Mura - A Hidden Fairy-Tale Village in the Heart of Kichijoji

Only a 15-minute walk from the Ghibli Museum is one of my all-time favorite tea-time spots in Tokyo: Kichijoji Petit Mura. Set in a scenery of local cafes, tiny eateries in Showa-period (1926 - 1989) buildings, and minimalist pottery shops, Kichijoji Petit Mura cannot help but catch the attention of passersby. It’s so unique that you’ll immediately want to step inside and explore! 

Two turrets covered in vegetation and flowers watch over the entrance, looking as if they were modeled out of clay into playful shapes by some fairy-tale creature. Step over the wooden gate and you’ll have the impression of having entered a village straight out of a storybook or even a scene from a Ghibli movie where crystal-clear streams run through verdant pathways and small huts and tiny doors appear amidst the vegetation, over tiny bridges or at the top of winding stairs.

The complex opened in 2018 on Kichjjoji’s Nakamichi Street and houses several different stores based on fairytale-like themes, providing a magical shopping and food experience.

It’s always exciting to open the door of Arrivee et Depart, Kichijoji Petit Mura’s cute select shop, and check for new accessories and unique small interior and indie designer items; or check the latest exhibit at Gallery Kashigoya, a little rental gallery that looks like it was built by dwarfs. 

If you are in a rush but still want to savor some of Kichijoji Petit Mura’s magical atmosphere, stop at Kichijoji Michi no Eki for some delicious take-away drinks and souvenirs. They all are original collaborations with stores in and near Kichijoji that utilize local specialties. But if you have more time, I definitely recommend you visit the complex’s two main food areas: Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro and TEA HOUSE Happa where you can fully immerse yourself in the enchantment of this hidden village!


4. Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro - Have a Tea Party With Adorable Cats 

I spotted some paw prints and followed them into Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro, Kichijoji Petit Mura’s cat cafe where I could spend time with cats as well as enjoy delicious desserts. 

“Oshiro” means “castle” in Japanese, so it only makes sense that the cafe’s concept is a quirky castle built by cats as many of the details adorning both its facade and interiors suggest. Outside, the cafe rises into a tower topped by a large cat-shaped decor; by the entrance, water flows from a cat-shaped fountain; and inside, it is full of playful embellishments and cat-themed installations such as small doors, fishbone-shaped lamps, and paw-shaped windows. 

Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro has two floors, both offering seating at small tables, which makes it easier for the resident cats to interact with you when they feel like it. Decorated with tiles and pastel colors, the rooms are designed to be as comfortable as possible for both cats and visitors. So, pick your spot and order some of the tasty snacks on the menu. 

With colder weather, I enjoy having a little tea party and ordering among the many teas available. One of my favorites is their “Hanasaka Musume” tea which comes in a transparent pot and with a real flower inside, making for the perfect drink for such a cute setting! On hotter days, I tend to go for one of their cold beverages like a smoothie or a soda which are all served in lovely glass goblets. If you want to stick to the cat theme, the cafe even offers the “Fuwa Fuwa Caffè Latte,” a fluffy latte with a cat-paw latte art. 

It didn’t take long before a couple of the cafe’s residents showed up, welcoming me into their cat kingdom. Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro is home to 22 cats, from playful Munchkins and Scottish folds to fluffy Maine coons, roaming freely inside the castle. Unlike your usual cat cafe, there’s no fixed time limit and visitors can stay as long as they like, so I was really able to spend a relaxing time with cats, observe them play and sleep peacefully, and even give them a rub from time to time.

Both Kotora, an American shorthair, and Karintou, a Maine coon, were intrigued by my presence and kept me company. Much to my delight, I ended up sharing my table with Karintou throughout my time at the cafe! 

As Cat Cafe Temari no Oshiro is a cat kingdom, visitors need to keep in mind a couple of rules when setting foot in it. This includes no cuddling or feeding any food or drink other than cat treats  which can be bought upon arrival at the cafe. A food cover will be also provided at the reception that you can use in case you need to leave your table. All the rules are displayed in a folder both at the entrance and at the table, so don't forget to take a look.

5. TEA HOUSE Happa - Take in the Tranquility of This Tea House Cocooned in Greenery 

Imagine having your tea in a building completely enveloped in nature where the windows open into walls of gorgeous plants, framing portions of vines that soften the light coming through them and make the space mysterious and cozy at the same time. TEA HOUSE Happa’s unique design makes it one of my favorite places in Tokyo to escape the busy life of the metropolis without having to travel far out of the city. I just enjoy sitting there, behind that comforting blanket of vegetation, and basking in the simple pleasure of drinking tea while listening to the calming sound of the stream outside and leaves swaying in the wind. 

The attention to detail is incredible and each space is filled with decorative plants and dried flowers, walls embellished by leaf-shaped windows painted in green and complemented by terracotta tile floors and brick walls, all of which contribute to TEA HOUSE Happa’s dreamy ambience.

Visitors can choose the outdoor tables where they can soak up Kichijoji Petit Mura’s enchanting atmosphere while gazing at the courtyard, the first floor seats which have a slightly more casual vibe, or go up the spiral staircase and explore the second floor which is furnished with wooden tables and chairs, counter seats by the windows, and even “tatami” straw mat flooring in a corner. No matter where you decide to sit,  you’ll feel as if you’ve entered the pages of a picture book yet again.

I took my seat by one of the windows and got ready for a scrumptious tea time! On offer are eighteen different kinds of selected teas, from delicious staples such as Darjeeling and Assam to elegant black teas with special flavors, fruit teas with chunks of dried fruit, and even refreshing herbal teas. Such an incredible array of flavors is a true dream for a tea enthusiast like myself.

This time, I went for their “Cherry Parfait Flavored Tea” and, as I poured the tea into my cup, the steam escaped the teapot and the sweet and sour fragrance of cherries filled the air, instantly soothing my spirit. My tea was served in a transparent teapot and its deep shade of red was such a pretty color that it was also a treat for the eyes.

TEA HOUSE Happa has an extensive menu of both savory and sweet dishes, so I ordered one each to go with my tea. It was my first time trying the salmon bruschetta and I was extremely happy with my choice. The plate was garnished with plenty of colorful vegetables and both the bread and its topping were exceptionally fresh and delicious. 

One of the most popular items on the sweet menu is the cat-shaped french toast, and I can testify for its unparalleled deliciousness and cuteness. Freshly made and extra fluffy, it will conquer your palate with its buttery texture and not overly sweet taste.

Must-visit site for your Japan trip! Book hotels, tours, and experiences here.

How to Get to Kichijoji

Easily accessible, Kichijoji Station is just a 20-minute train ride from Shibuya Station on the Keio Inokashira Line. You can get off there if you are planning to visit the Ghibli Museum, which is only a 14-minute walk from the station, or any of the colorful cafes we introduce above. If you are thinking of spending a blissful day in nature, stop at Inokashira Koen Station instead where the serenity of Inokashira Park is only a couple of minutes away on foot!

Explore the World of Studio Ghibli Along the Keio Inokashira Line

Board the Keio Inokashira Line and travel to a dreamy side of Tokyo. Within walking distance from the Ghibli Museum and all conveniently located in Kichijoji, these spots will surely immerse you in the same magical atmosphere portrayed in your favorite Studio Ghibli masterpiece! 

If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram!

Kanto Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

tsunagu Japan Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and we'll show you the best Japan has to offer!

Subscribe Now!

About the author

Stefania Sabia
  • Tons of tips from tsunaguJapan writers for a memorable Japan trip!

Restaurant Search

Sign up to our free newsletter to discover the best Japan has to offer.