If you know me personally, you will probably already know where my new favourite place in Tokyo is. I have raved about it a lot and recommended it to so many people already. During my trip to Japan, I visited this place a good 6 times and every time was just as enjoyable and fun. This place is a place called Shimokitazawa.
Shimokitazawa is a neighbourhood in Tokyo which full of independent shops, cafes, bars and live houses. Easily accessible from major train stations, a trip on the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station or a trip on the Keio-Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station will take you straight to Shimokitazawa Station. When I was preparing for my trip to Japan, I was researching on different and local places I wanted to visit. I watch many Japanese Youtubers and a couple of my favourite ones did videos on Shimokitazawa and it looked very appealing so even from the beginning it was one of the places I wanted to visit the most. I would have never heard of it unless I had watched these videos, so I want to tell you guys all about it.
I must admit, on my first visit the neighbourhood was a little mis-leading and confusing. At first, I did not think there was actually a lot there as I just walked in a straight line from the train station however, the trick is you have to walk down different streets and not follow a single ‘route’ as the shops are scattered everywhere. Every time I went I swear I discovered a new row of thrift shops which I swear I had not seen the time before. This adds to the fun, exploring down the different streets. There is something for everyone here. The best part is, currently it is not that touristy as places such as Harajuku so it means you can enjoy a leisurely walk down the streets at your own pace without being pushed and shoved like you do in the more touristy places. Overall, I feel that Shimokitazawa has a lot of heart and soul which is something I particularly fell in love with.
Shimokitazawa is well known for its ‘vintage’ feel which is obviously displayed by the amount of thrift shops there are. Before I got to Japan, I was so excited to thrift. I know it is quite big in Asian countries and in America but in Britain I feel there are not many local thrift stores and where we do, they are normally quite expensive and only in London. Shimokitazawa has a variety of different thrift stores and all have a variety in their price range. Ever since I discovered Shimokitazawa, I have a new found love for thrifting. I think I now have a mission to have most of my wardrobe thrifted as I now love finding items which are unique and I love the idea of recycling old goods which all also contributes to lower the environmental damage the fast fashion industry has.
Another aspect I found really fun was just sieving through the endless racks of beautiful clothes and trying to find the best deals and bargains. In general, I think a lot of Japanese thrift is designer and you can find a lot of designer goods for amazing prices.
I took Becky and Alex there also and I’m sure Alex will not mind me mentioning that in a thrift store named DYLAN he was able to pick up two YSL Bomber Jackets (which for the most part retail for £1,000) for £50 each. Furthermore, I was able to pick up a Comme Des Garcons T-Shirt which actually retailed for around £62 for £17.56. Shimokitazawa is filled with many Adidas, Nike and Fila items also.
Listed below are some of my favourite thrift stores in Shimokitazawa (the ¥ sign represents overall what the price range of the shops’ products are)
Flamingo (there are a couple of these scattered around Shimokitazawa) ¥¥¥
Flamingo stocks good quality retro clothing for both women and men. They also sell a lot of designer shoes and jewellery. However, it is one of the more expensive thrift shops. The photo below shows one of the 3/4 Flamingo stores there are in Shimokitazawa.
Florida has a variety of styles for low prices. You will find a lot of cool prints tops here and many jackets. It also sells jewellery.
Inside Florida. The coolest interior I have ever seen in a shop.
Putti ¥¥ A very vintage orientated thrift shop which mainly sells woman’s clothing. All items have a very 90s feel to them and are fairly cheap.
Located two doors down from Putti. The best store in terms of selling Adidas, Nike and most sportswear jackets for incredibly cheap. This is where I got my Comme Des Garcons top also. The shop is run by a man who takes wonderful care of picking the best items out for his shop. Defiently worth a visit.
Dylan is filled with what I would call ‘contemporary’ thrift. Everything sold is on trend and also has that ‘indie’ vibe to it. Stocks both men’s and women’s clothing.
Ragla Magla ¥¥¥
Ragla Magla has a very 90s American vibe to it. One of the more expensive thrift shops but this can be justified through the condition and quality of the clothing.
On top of the endless amount of thrift stores there are in Shimokitazawa, there are also shops which sell other goods which can be potentially nice souvenirs
One of my favourites is Village Vanguard (a chain store which can be find throughout ). Shimokitazawa is home to a massive Village Vanguard located near the supermarket, near the South Side of the train station I believe.
Village Vanguard sells a variety of random goods. A quarter of this store is dedicated to manga and books and the another part stocks a lot of character goods including Studio Ghibli, Star Wars and Hello Kitty. It also sells beauty products, CDS, stationary and home goods. In addition to this, it also sells big versions of popular Japanese sweets. It’s fun to walk around and see what they have as they have so much. You will always find something you will want to buy.
In between Hula-Hoop and Putti there is the cutest knick-knack shop. In there, they sell jewellery, home accessories and stationary. They have a lot of variety and sell such unique and quirky goods. They have the most adorable kitchen accessories also. It is 100% a shop you can purchase practical items which are stylish and aesthetic.
One of Shimokita’s most well known places to visit is the massive garage which is located about a 3/4 minute walk from the train station. Not only does it stand out because of its artwork printed on the wall outside but inside it has more thrift shops and it has a whole section of handmade jewellery made by local artists. I love this idea as each artist’s work has its own section and they are displayed so effectively. Keep in the mind, the section where the accessories are kept is small so it gets crowded very easily. I love supporting homemade jewellery so I brought a lot from this section. The majority of the jewellery is really cheap, I got a pair of copper wire earrings from ¥500 (£3.51) which is good for the fact they are homemade. The first time I went to Shimokita I nearly missed the garage as the route I chose did not lead me to it however it is pretty near the station if you take the North exit and turn left instead of going down the first main street and work your way back, you will find it, it is quite hard to miss.
In terms of eating, there are many places to choose from. Right away from the exit of the train station there are a vast amount of little restaurants and café. The majority of food places in Shimokitazawa seem to be individual and local restaurants rather than chain ones. There are also an abundance of local coffee shops. There is one coffee shop where they will draw different characters or images on your coffee with chocolate powder. Furthermore, Shimokitazawa has a famous pancake shop which sits on the opposite side of Flamingo (the one next to Dylan). There is always a massive queue for this little café as they sell out quickly. Becky tried one of their pancake sandwiches which they do in 3 flavours, she let me try some and it was just the perfect sweet treat.
Some of my favourite meals from my entire trip were from restaurants I went to here. The first time I visited myself I visited the Rainbow Café, a natural food café. I ordered a lunch set for around ¥800 (£5.62) and got a cup of miso soup and salad alongside my main dish. For my main, I ordered a tuna doria. Doria is a pretty dish in Japan, it’s basically rice which is mixed with meat (in my case tuna) and then topped with a layer of cheese. This doria was one of the nicest things I ate on the trip for sure. Everything tasted so freshly prepared and it was a good quantity for the price you paid. I also went there with Alex and Becky and we ordered some more Mexican type dishes (Mexican food is quite rare in Japan) and all of those were lovely too. They also served cocktails and it was overall well priced.
Another place where I enjoyed eating was a place called Sunday Brunch. This again was a little bit like a natural food café. Everything again was so freshly prepared. They had a good selection of their menu ranging from a large array of pancakes to salads and then to other rice/spaghetti dishes. Both times we went, me and Becky got the Omurice (Omelette rice). It was the best omurice I have ever had. The flavours were amazing and it was also a big portion for the price we paid. We paid just over ¥1300 (£9.10) and most main dishes were priced around that, another really reasonable place to eat. Additionally, it was one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants I have eaten at. It was full of greenery and had a very peaceful and artful atmosphere about it.
In summary, Shimokitazawa is the trendy, cool and unique shopping district of Tokyo and dare I say the more exciting and fun than the world famous Harajuku. I love the vibe of this neighbourhood, the fact it feels so local and everything is so compact. There are so many unique things to see and the best part is every time you go you know there is going to be different stuff. I got spend hours and hours looking through all the gorgeous thrift and slip on iced coffees all day (that would be the dream). Some of my best memories of my trip were made in this special place. If you are ever around in Tokyo take a walk around and do some thrifting.