Muryoku Muzenji (無力無善寺, literally “no strength, no good temple”) is a small live venue under the railway tracks of the Chuo Main Line in Koenji, eastern Tokyo. It ranks among the top weirdest places in Tokyo (and maybe the entire world).
When a cool show is taking place, things can’t get any weirder than this. A psychedelic experience altogether, Muryoku Muzenji is a small, living room-size space with a corner reserved for the musicians, and the rest of the floor is covered with sofas and pillows to chill on.
The whole place is decorated with garish and colorful paraphernalia, typically based on cats and other Hello Kitty-related merchandising combined with flags and traditional Japanese elements, or rather an art collection of obscure toys and pop culture elements. This might be their official webpage.
I visited Muryoku Muzenji on a chilly April night, and I must confess I struggled to find the place. Seeing little information on it online, I feared it would no longer be open, but don’t worry, it is still open as of today. When my friends and I got there, we found a bunch of old men and old women sitting and laying down on the pillows, calmly talking while having some beer. It felt like they were stuck in time and space.
Half of them were disguised as high school girls, and the other half didn’t mind that. We were warmly welcomed, and they let us know a gig would take place in a few minutes.
The guys that took to the stage played a blend of American grunge and post-rock that kept knocking on the doors of psychedelia. In retrospective, this performance was very “normal” compared to the typical genres of events that take place there. Have a look at these YouTube videos to get a real grasp of the atmosphere.
The whole district of Koenji is great for live music. The main streets that extend from the train station are teeming with live houses and some other low-profile cafes where you can have a listen to a wide range of Japanese artists.
Featured photo credits: Live From Tokyo.
Access: Koenji station is on Chūō Main Line. There is a shopping street under the railtracks. Muryoku Muzenji is accessed through a tiny door decorated with Hello Kitty-like elements.
When: who knows!