WANDERING IN KOENJI

Halfway through 2017 and I seem to have been swimming along the sea of work, graduate school, family and church that I failed to go back to blog about my past Japan trip. There has to be some sort of way for me to be able to blog more often and tell you guys more about my heydays, despite my awry schedule. So, I shall start by doing this on a weekly basis and see how consistent this goes!
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Let me start off by telling you about this kitschy place in Tokyo that my family and I discovered when we went there during the New Year's holiday. It was the first stop I visited upon arriving and it simply left an impression on me that's why we had to come back for the second time around so that we can explore the place more and walk around its alleys.
 Koenji is a lively neighborhood that is known for live music, thrift shopping, and retro hints. Bearing a similarity to Shimokitazawa (which I will blog about next week!), this small neighborhood is known to house a lot of underground music bars, mostly jazz and punk scene. While most people like me would love this place because of the artsy culture and strong influence of music, this place is also known for its second hand branded stores and retro thrift shops.
Koenji used to be a rural farming town until the Great Kanto Earthquake happened in 1923. Since then, merchants found refuge in the place and built their lives back in this town with the aid of the farm owners. Koenji was known for its serene temples and tea and coffee houses in the 50's and transformed into a breeding ground for young musicians in the 70's. 

Its history and how it came to be is still evident in the footprint of the place. Anyone would still see the energy and free spirited philosophy of the neighborhood.
 I personally don't like going to crowded places. I don't see the fun in just breezing along a place just to say that you've step on its soil-I like to immerse myself in the places that I visit. I'm just really happy that it was a holiday when we got here, the usual crowded alleys were controlled-barely crowded, and we were able to enjoy the winter breeze while walking around the place.
 Taking a selfie with my sister in law, Ileana. I was not able to see her for a long time since she is now very busy with Medical school and our Tokyo trip became her break away from it! She enjoyed rummaging through the shops of Koenji and got herself a few good finds :)
Meet my husband's family! We love to call ourselves the "D's" since we are a combined family. It is also my first time to join them in their annual trip and to commemorate this, we put our kawaii on and posed for a photo. We're missing three important people from this trip, our brother Alecco and sister in law Jen took their baby girl EV to Singapore. I'm looking forward to the next trip, hopefully we'll all be present by then.
 My hubby and his bro, Dave wandered around the streets while half of us went to check out the thrift shops. We accidentally ran into this music store and we just had to stop by and check out the place. We were used to closed, airconditioned music stores but this one was open for everyone to check out! I also observed how most of the shops in Japan were single manned, I must say I deeply admire the discipline and the order of this country!
My body was adjusting to the weather! I felt like a veggie wrap with all the layers :P
 The sun in Tokyo just passed so quick! As early as 5pm, the sky turned dark already. Since we arrived in Tokyo in the afternoon, we didn't really get to maximize our time in Koenji during our first visit, so my husband suggested for us to come back another day and at an earlier time so we can enjoy walking around.

I fell in love with Koenji even more during the second visit. We really took our sweet time in the area to look around though some of the stores were not open due to the holiday schedule. Koenji to me, houses one of the most genuine artistic and retail culture among the places that I've visited. Each store had a story that spoke to its passerby strongly.
 Since majority of the stores were closed, we were only given the chance to appreciate the store fronts. I had the idea of blogging about it at that time and finally, I am able to! Here are just some of the many tiny yet quirky spaces I chanced upon during our walk.
 We just had to! It matched our outfits :P
 I loved this store so much! It had a lot of unique pieces of clothing, majority of which were very bohemian and middle eastern. The quirk behind this store would be the intentional involvement of kawaii Japanese patterns and anime influence in products you will randomly see inserted in the middle of a bohemian pattern. I liked it as it gave a romantic chance encounter with its visitors! You really need to take your time to look around and find that one thing that you will have a strong connection with.

 Our Koenji visit will NEVER be complete if we did not purchase anything from it! We chose pieces that we would hardly find in regular stores. We chanced upon Village Vanguard, they have small branches around Tokyo but this particular store in Koenji was the best as it was bigger and had more choices! From clothing, bags, food, disposable cameras, postcards, socks, magnets, books, magazines and more, they have it! Categorized in different corners, Village Vanguard is one of those stores in Koenji where you really need to spend an amount of time to see everything. I got myself some disposable cameras, magazine books which the fondly call 'mooks', while my hubby opted to buy his Star Wars collectibles in here!
For some weird reason, travelling for me became so therapeutic. The chance of being able to travel would always come during times of creative block and drain from my usual setting. Koenji to me is like Hongdae, I felt a certain connection to the place and its creativity just gave me a boost to continue for the next few months until I get to travel again!

Koenji Street is located in 3-70-1 Koenji-minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 
How to get there: Take the JR East Train Chuo Line to Koenji Station

I'd love to hear about your chance encounters with a place you've visited! 
I will see you next week, in Shimokitazawa!

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