Kichijoji: What to Do
Kichijoji is a pleasant spot in Tokyo to have an autumn stroll and watch the leaves change. It’s also the location of the Ghibli Museum. There are gluten-free options nearby, so you won’t have to go hungry. All the shops mentioned in this post can be found on our custom map.
Ghibli museum is located on the edge of Inokashira Park, a large tree-filled area to have a picnic, visit a temple or shrine, admire spring blossoms, or ride in a swan boat on the pond.
Local urban legend claims riding in one of these boats will cause a breakup. This is because a shrine to the goddess Benzaiten overlooks the park; she reportedly casts jealous curses on happy couples she sees. Superstitions aside, it looks pretty romantic.
Kichijoji is also known for clothes shopping, cute cafes, and lively yokocho (small alleyways).
There are several gluten-free bakeries in the Kichijoji area. We recommend checking their hours and holidays on Instagram or Facebook as shops sometimes have irregular holidays.
Rizriant (11am-6pm, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) is a 100% GF bakery with other allergies clearly marked on the labels too. Everything I bought from the shop was delicious.
Mom’s Chiffon Update: 11/12/2019 Mom’s Chiffon is permanently closed.
(10:30am-4pm, closed Sundays and Mondays) is a 100% rice flour chiffon cake shop. I haven’t gotten a chance to visit their shop yet, but I confirmed with them that their chiffon cake is gluten free.
City Bakery (8 am-9pm) in the Parco building usually has one type of gluten-free friendly muffin made from rice flour and yogurt; staff told me it is not certified gluten-free, but it is guaranteed not to contain wheat.
A couple stops away from Kichijoji, Komehiro (9am-5:30pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays) is worth going a little out of your way. It is the first GF bakery I visited in Tokyo back in 2013, and it gives celiacs an opportunity to try some unique Japanese-style breads you might have spotted. This shop’s bread loafs also freeze really well.
If you make the journey, you’ll probably want to visit Komehiro first, grab some bread, and head to Kichijoji for a picnic. Komehiro is takeout only.
Gluten-Free Restaurant Options
I ate at Cafe du Lievre “Bunny House” (10:30am-7pm) last time I was in Kichijoji. Their galettes (buckwheat crepes) are the most GF-friendly option, but they warn you that they are cooked on the same surface as the wheat crepes. Buckwheat, soba, is a staple of Japanese cuisine, so galettes are a way to get a GF taste of Japan even though they are French cuisine. The curries here are wheat free, but the staff could not confirm if there is CC or hidden barley or rye, so we cannot say for sure if the curry is gluten free.
Another vegetarian shop, Atatakana Osara (11am-9pm), has a gluten-free menu, including some Japanese dishes and pasta.
粋 Sui Cafe is an all-vegan and gluten-free business, but the owner says that while they guarantee the ingredients themselves are gluten free, they cannot guarantee that there is no cross-contamination in the factory. They also sometimes have cooking classes that are not gluten-free, so CC is possible. Any soy sauce used is GF tamari. Look at their focaccia lunch set…
An Italian restaurant chain called Cafe Rigoletto (11:30-midnight) has an option of gluten-free pasta on their menu, but sometimes they do not have it in stock. Also, some people have said that they cook the noodles in wheat-contaminated water, so for most people this will not be the best option.
Shopping for Snacks
When you arrive in Kichijoji, there are several markets inside and near the station to stock up on snacks and goods. Sometimes there are also small farmers markets inside the station selling local products like honey, organic vegetables, and gluten-free sweets.
Natural House (10 am-9pm), a chain specializing in organic and natural foods, carries many GF items, including rice flour, snacks, 100% buckwheat soba, and gluten-free soy sauce.
F&F (10 am-9 pm) is another small natural food chain that carries some GF products like bread, sweets, and natural condiments.
Carnival (10:30 am-9:30 pm) is an import shop that seems to carry the most variety of GF products in Kichijoji, including energy bars, various snacks, and a wide variety of items for cooking different cuisines.
There are also a couple of branches of Kaldi Coffee Farm (10 am-9pm), a shop that specializes in imported products and often has some GF items.
Seijo Ishii (7:30 am-10 pm) also often carries GF breads, snacks, and sweets. Since Seijo Ishii is a specialty chain around Japan, it is one of the best places to check for rice bread no matter where you are traveling.
If you want some gourmet fried chicken, there is a small stand in Atre Kichijoji that sells GF-friendly fried chicken—the “shio” or “shio-yuzu” types. The allergen chart says it does not contain wheat, and the staff said the breaded part is katakuriko (potato starch). However, since other fried chicken might be fried in the same oil, CC is a high probability. Also, allergen-free, does not guarantee gluten-free since barley, malt, and rye are not considered allergens and don’t need to be labeled. Anecdotally, I ate a couple pieces and had no reaction, but I am not so sensitive to cross-contamination.
Gluten-Free is Growing
We hear from a lot of followers how difficult it is to travel gluten free in Japan, but believe it or not, gluten-free options are increasing. When I visited Kichijoji a couple weeks ago, a small art gallery was doing an exhibit and had gluten-free cake for sale. It was a one-day event, but it was encouraging to see the options and awareness increasing. A few years back when I first went to Kichijoji, most of these gluten-free bakeries didn’t exist.
Is there a neighborhood you would like us to scope out? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by.
Keep an eye on our blog and our map as we will keep adding businesses when we discover them.