Shimokitazawa, a district in Tokyo, is quickly growing into one of the most popular and fashionable places to be, largely due to an influx from artistic and creative minds, both local and foreign. Here you will find musicians, actors, fashion gurus, vintage clothing stores, cafes, theatres; and the frequent izakaya or local restaurant to add a Japanese flair.
Fashion outlets are not in short supply in Shimokitazawa, and ever popular with the youth. The vintage clothing stores are especially excellent treasure boxes and one can find items to suit any budget. One of our favourite stores, both for ladies and gentlemen, is Height-Ashbury. They boast an impressive collection of both vintage street-style fashion and more elegant attire.
This small town-like area is also famous for its music. CDs and records of both Japanese and Western music are present in abundance. The owner of ‘Flash Disc Ranch’ has been selling music there since he was in college, and there’s not better person to ask for advice when it comes to records. You might also catch a glimpse of a few popular Japanese artists who use studios in the area to practice.
And what hip and trendy area would be complete without coffee shops? Although the coffee comes highly recommended, you can also choose from a variety of Japanese restaurants and dessert cafes. Another one of our favourite hangout spots is Café Trois Chambers. The vintage décor filled with old pictures, chair and tables, makes you feel like you’re somewhere in the past and is the perfect place to devour a book by oneself or just meet up with friends for some good conversation. As you’re exploring its corners, you’ll also find a few international espresso shops and ever-so-cute Japanese-sized cafes.
Vintage shops and cafes are great for when the sun is out, but when nighttime comes around we see a very different, but equally enjoyable side of Shimokitazawa.
Enter the Japanese bars known as ‘izakaya’. Not only can you quench your thirst, but also eat your fill of yakitori (grilled chicken), okonomiyaki (a kind of savoury pancake), and fresh fish.
The music lovers out there will appreciate the rock, jazz, soul (and so may more) tunes emanating from the performance venues.
Rock is a current favourite among the youth, while jazz (organised almost every night) is popular with those looking for a smoother experience. Clubs also play various kinds of music made by both amateurs and elites, which makes it a place for young musicians to dream and start the process of ‘making it’.
Shimokitazawa is a place for everyone. And although it is evolving with the modern world, it retains its appreciation for traditional Japanese culture, while still creating one of its own.
So if you’re an up-and-coming trendsetter, or just into your fashion and music, come on and visit this energetic little place, and experience both its distinct day- and nighttime flavours!