VIDEO: Strolling through Tokyo’s hip Shimokitazawa for curry, tunes, vintage shopping

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO: Strolling through Tokyo’s hip Shimokitazawa for curry, tunes, vintage shopping

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Shoppers and foodies alike can spend countless hours in Tokyo’s hipster hotspot Shimokitazawa.

The neighborhood, also known as “Shimokita,” is home to hundreds of vintage clothing, book and music shops, as well as dozens of restaurants and cafés to keep your energy up as you shop.

Shimokita is a popular bohemian district that draws thousands of visitors of all ages thanks its many dining and shopping options, restricted vehicular access, and busy squares with buskers, food trucks and periodic flea markets.

New York Joe Exchange, housed in a building that was once a sento bathhouse, offers a unique shopping experience with a touch of the neighborhood’s history. Other vintage shops worth a browse are Antique Life Jin and Tokyo Retro a.m.

At the turn of every corner, you’ll find cafés like Bear Espresso Café or Bookends Coffee Service. The area is also known for curry houses like Planet Curry and Nan Station. And, since the neighborhood is only a 10-minute train ride from major stations Shibuya and Shinjuku, getting there is quick and easy.

Keep in mind that many of the cafés and restaurants here are quite small, so you may have to wait to get a seat. If you’re a larger group, check out the larger izakayas and restaurants in the area instead like Shimokita Rokkaku or Shirubee.

Besides being a center for shopping and dining, Shimokita draws a crowd in the evenings thanks to its thriving live theater and live music houses. The prestigious Honda Gekijo Theater, also inside an old sento bath since 1982, hosts many festivals with famous theatrical troupes throughout the year. For great tunes, check out Half Moon Hall Shimokitazawa, LIVEHOLIC and any of the many live-houses in the district.

For a more traditional escape, every August the area celebrates Awa Odori Festival. This year, 21 groups paraded while dancing throughout the street Aug. 19-20.

The mix of old, new and vintage you’ll find in Shimokitazawa is what keeps visitors coming back for more. There is always something new to discover here, so you won’t want to miss out on the lively, laid-back scene.


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