One day I had the brilliant idea of choosing a random station on a map, and spending an adventitious evening there. Shimokitazawa happened to be the lucky place. Most of its alleys are not accessible by vehicle. As a result, you can make the most out of exploring on foot and relax.
It is a very small area, mostly consisting of shops and small cafes. These include second hand stores, fashion boutiques, antique shops, vintage stores, western cafes and bars, and even few Japanese bars and restaurants. One of the popular stores is called Ragla Magla
. All about this shop showcases vintage, but the most prominent decor of it is the “ALL 990 YEN” sign in neon. From blazers to denims to coats – everything is only 990 yen. Another popular store is called Don Don Down
. The lowest price of any item here is 100 yen. Some of the premium items can start at a steep price. They make up for this by giving huge sales every Wednesdays. Sadly however, their website
states that this shop will be closing down on June 30, 2016. They want to sell their clothes and are offering sale of up to 50%.
On the South exit, the Chazawa dori
mainly has cafes. One name that pops up right away is City Country City, also known as CCC. It is the mash up of everything you want - coffee house, vintage record shop, bar, and restaurant. Although they specialize in the dance genre, you can also find soul and R&B, old-school funk, classic rock and roll. Again, it maintains its “mash up of everything” theme all around its shop. Their pastas are exceptionally delicious as well. It could be because they make them from homemade noodles. They also serve beer, wine, and various cocktails.
Adding to its miscellaneous nature, Shimokitazawa even hosts popular theaters and music venues. Although most of them are not too big, they are popular locations for many big companies. For example, the Honda Geikijou
theatre. It is without doubt one of the best theatres in Tokyo. It always hosts sell out pieces from famous directors and actors. Another unique theatre is the Tollywood Theatre
. It mostly shows short movies. You can even rent it to show a movie you made. Other theatres include Ekimae Gekijo
, Off Off Theatre, Suzunari
, Theatre 711, and Komaba Agora Gekijou
. The reason why this is important is because Shimokitazawa is known for making aspiring actors and singers’ dreams come true. With the many theatres and live houses that attract big industry names, the many college students flock here to fulfill their dreams. In fact, two (2) TV shows and films were screened here in 2006, including Shimokita Glory Days
You are more than welcome to visit Shimokitazawa anytime of the year you want. However, there are few suggestions. Every February, it hosts a month long Theatre Festival. It is what it sounds like; a month long display of various performances at all of the theatres here. July is another special time. During this month, the live houses and alleys are filled with music from the Shimokitazawa Music Festival.
The number of large, brand shops are increasing. Especially with the development project that is going on, there is a good chance that it will start looking a lot like the other typical shopping areas of Tokyo. However, Shimokitazawa’s main attraction will always be the small-scale stores that scream youth, ingenuity, and vintage.by Khalid Saifullah