KOENJI is in Suginami Ku in the western part of Tokyo on the Chuo line just four stations west of Shinjuku.
KOENJI received its name from the temple – Koenji – which was visited often by Tokugawa Iemitsu, who regularly rested in its tea room on falconry hunts in the area. There are a few other temples in the area as well. Koenji Temple and Hikawa Shrine are, along with Koenji Smith’s School of English, well known landmarks in Koenji Minami 4 chome.
There is another interesting aspect of visiting Suginami Ku which is the Shiruku Road Scenic Pathway which was established in 1988. It is a walking path which is 36 kilometres long and consists of two circles that wind around the city. It’s a great way to exercise and at the same time become familiar with the sites of Suginami Ku.
Suginamu Ku is a city with a population of around 550,000 people and as such has numerous festivals throughout the year. There are three festivals which are important to Smith’s Schools of English as they are held in Asagaya, Koenji and Ogikubo in which there are Smith’s Schools of English.
The Asagaya Tanabata Festival in early August is held over a five day period in the PAL Shopping Centre where the stores sponsoring the festival display magnificent bamboo decorations. Tanabata is the festival of Vega (theWeaver Star) and is celebrated on the seventh night of July.
Koenji is famous for the Koenji Awa Odori on the last weekend in August. It is was first held in 1957 and is a street dance festival based on the festival that is held in Tokushima Prefecture. The dancers wear unique oufits and dance to the music of bands that accompany them on their street circuit. It attracts very large crowds of visitors on both the Saturday and Sunday evenings and is the second largest dance festival in Japan and Smith’s School fo English Koenji is right near all the action.
The Ogikubo Hakusan Shrine festival held on September 7th and 8th involves the carrying of portable shrines (mikoshi) through the streets. An unusual aspect of this festival is that local women are allowed to carry one of the Hakusan Shrine’s mikoshi.
Koenji is also famous and popular for its Live Rock Houses and is well known for its recycled clothing shops which are very busy on weekends with visitors from other parts of Tokyo and Japan. It has some great places to eat including many izakayas and drinking places.