Kunitachi, a town hiding an international je ne sais quoi…

Kunitachi Roundabout 

Hi, This is my first post on Kunitachi. And for this post, I would like to point (clockwise) towards one particular spot in Kunitachi.

I have been living near Kunitachi for more than 10 years now. Near enough to spend many weekends and evenings walking around, doing picnics inside the University campus and discovering many bars and restaurants. I am French and yes, I miss cheap smelly cheese, affordable wine, my family and a lot of things from home. At the same time, I have been here for 10 years, so there are many things I like here too. Kunitachi and its atmosphere is definitely one of them. It is really foreigner friendly, green and spacious enough to not feel crowded except on Matsuri days and…. Wait, back to the point of this post.

The Roundabout of the station South exit (clockwise). This very strategic spot in town which distributes most of the south lively areas with Daigaku dori, Fujimi dori and Asahi dori (where I now have a wine bar) and two more is a roundabout! While riding my bicycle around it the other day, it took me a few rounds to realize that I was on a roundabout… like home, I cheerfully spinned around it once more. Although the marking on the road gets a little confusing (overdone to my taste) it is a real official regular roundabout, yes it spins clockwise, but well let’s not start arguing about who is right: right or left driving. Here left is right, simple!

Anyway, it is well located, it merges nicely with all roads and serves all sides of South Kunitachi. It is such an obvious urban choice, that it took me many years to realise that it is a roundabout and it’s been here for many year. Actually, I tried to check when roundabout were introduced in Japan just to note that… it seems they were just recently introduced about 3 years ago! According to some reports and magazines which back in 2013 were talking about roundabout pilots in North Japan, and confusion among drivers… Well it seems that Kunitachi is very much ahead of its country. Yes that roundabout has been here for many years. At least 10 years since I arrived.

Note for the roundabout purist out there, he or she might say that the 4 traffics lights near the roundabout are redundant, however, let’s not forget that we are in Japan and the pedestrian community is dense and roughly 100,000 people leave in Kunitachi. Security is paramount and non-negotiable. These traffic lights are not for cars but to protect pedestrians and their flows to and out of the station. I asked a few local people who, of the car on the roundabout and the car entering, has the rights to go through…? The answers where rather enjoyable and I think representative of the good nature of the Japanese society: “whichever car you are driving slow down, do an eye contact and a polite sign either to go through or to let go.” Nice and safe behavior, outside of the protocol.

Under the image of a calm, traditional and very respectable town, there are some very dynamic, avant gardism decisions being made here. Kunitachi is hiding an international je ne sais quoi that makes this town good to live in and good to enjoy. Just wondering how good it would look with a small version of the Arc de Triomphe seating in the middle… I let you imagine! Happy roundabouting to you.


the Arc de Triomphe seating in the middle
the Arc de Triomphe seating in the middle
Philippe Gautier

La Cave Du Chateau
Higashi 2-6-6, Kunitachi, Tokyo