Shimokitazawa
Pic: Angela An

Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa – often shortened to Shimokita – is a trendy bohemian neighbourhood just a few train stops from central Tokyo. Popular with young people, and the young-at-heart, the narrow streets of Shimokitazawa are stuffed with vintage clothing shops, quirky cafes, live houses, indie fashion outlets and artist studios making it an oasis for creative types, as well as cheapos looking to snag some bargains.

In fact, because of the extremely high hip-to-yen value ratio, we voted Shimokitazawa as the #1 neighbourhood for cheapos to live in Tokyo.

If you’ve never been before, catch a flavour first by watching our video above and listening to our Shimokitazawa podcast episode.

What’s new in Shimokitazawa?

Regular visitors to Shimokitazawa will know that there always seems to be construction going on. The good news is that some is finally finished, with the opening of Tefu Lounge in January 2022. Tefu Lounge is part of the Nansei Plus complex located near the south-west exit of the Shimokitazawa Station. This five story building is home to a mini cinema, cafes, retail spaces, co-working lounges, shared offices and even an event space.

Where is Shimokitazawa?

Shimokitazawa is a neighborhood in Setagaya Ward, west of Shibuya ward. It is serviced by two train lines, making it quickly and easily accessible from both Shibuya (Keio Inokashira Line) and Shinjuku (Odakyu Line).

What is Shimokitazawa like?

Shimokitazawa was originally a farming community, and to this day it hasn’t lost its laid back attitude despite its close proximity to some of the busiest parts of Tokyo. It’s considered a very trendy area, but in a hipster way – think vintage clothes and record players at indie coffee shops instead of the latest fashion and newest hits at a popular cafe. In summer, the neighborhood returns to its more traditional roots with its a number of popular events including the Bon Dance Festival and Awa Odori Festival.

What is Shimokitazawa known for?

Shimokitazawa is best known as a popular and affordable shopping and entertainment area. It is the perfect destination to go thrift shopping for vintage clothes, with a wide range of shops to visit including a few well-known vintage clothing chains such as Chicago, as well as many smaller independent shops.

Historically, Shimokitazawa was well known for its live music and stage theatre, and that culture is still alive and well. There are plenty of live music houses, bars, clubs and other venues to choose from, and record shops as well.

What to see and do in Shimokitazawa

One of the best things to do in Shimokitazawa is wander through the streets and stop in at all and any shops that tickle your fancy. Most of the clothing shops specialise in vintage fashion, and that’s one of the things this neighborhood is known for. But don’t let that stop you from going into other shops as well, there are excellent record shops, cafes and restaurants too.

There also a number of small shopping malls to explore. Most of them are recent developments, like reload and Mikan, however they stay true to Shimokitazawa’s spirit.

Where and what to eat in Shimokitazawa

Independent coffee shops are the go-to in Shimokitazawa. You’ll find them dotted all along the streets, each with their own unique atmosphere so take your pick. Keep in mind most of these places are quite small though, so they’re more suited for individuals or small groups of two – three.

Somewhat surprisingly for such a small neighborhood there is a good range of international foods, especially in Mikan. Mikan is a new shopping mall that has sprung up under the Keio tracks and is home to a number of restaurants as well as a popular bakery. You’ll also find restaurants selling foreign food dotted throughout the streets, complimented by Japanese classics like yakiniku and ramen.

Nightlife and entertainment in Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is not known for its nightlife in the way that Shibuya or Roppongi are, but it still has its fair share of offerings, particularly when it comes to live houses. There are also a variety of entertainment options, including theatre shows, and comedy. Of course there are a good number of small izakaya and bars tucked away in the narrow streets, so you can definitely still make the most of a night out.

Shopping in Shimokitazawa

Shopping in Shimokitazawa is all about vintage and thrifting. You don’t come to Shimokitazawa for brand name clothing, but if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease and dig through the racks there’s a chance you’ll find a treasure. And even if you don’t walk away with bargain priced brand name clothing, you’ll definitely find a piece with plenty of personality to add to your wardrobe. The thrifting nature of shopping in Shimokitazawa also extends to other things like records and even antiques.

How to get to and from Shimokitazawa

The best way to get to Shimokitazawa is to take the train to Shimokitazawa Station. It can be reached via the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station and the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station. Both of these lines stop in Shimokitazawa Station, but because they are owned by different railway companies they have different entrances, exits and ticket gates so when you’re heading home make sure to enter the correct part of the station.

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