Shimokitazawa (下北沢) is a fun Tokyo neighborhood filled with cool music venues, awesome shops, and excellent restaurants. Swarms of Tokyo hipsters are a common sight in Shimokitazawa, so if you want to see what the hip kids in Tokyo are wearing or what they do on the weekend, check out Shimokita. As someone who moved from Brooklyn to Tokyo, I see similarities to the infamously hip neighborhood Williamsburg, but definitely not as pretentious or annoying. There are a bunch of clothing, shoe, and record stores neatly packed within a few blocks and nightlife options abound.
Shimokitazawa Neighborhood Highlights
The really great thing about Shimokita is that the hipster culture is just an accent and not the defining characteristic. Japanese culture still shines, with pop culture silliness sprinkled in for good measure as well. You will encounter a few arcades that are distinctly Japanese for example. J-Pop and “kawaii” merchandise are represented too, so you will get different slices of Tokyo culture in one stop.
Good Eats in Shimokitazawa
Cream puff workshop of Shirahige
One of the most popular places to get a snack in Shimokita is Cream puff workshop of Shirahige. They have amazing cream puffs, which look exactly like Totoro(super popular anime character). It is actually located closer to nearby station Setagayadaita, which is a pleasant walk through shopping streets.
Creative and deceptively simple noodle soups. Not much to say except eat and be fulfilled; slurps not needed.
South Asian cuisine done well, with their own unique spin on a few favorites. Tummy comfort galore.
Shimokitazawa: Music Venues
Shelter is a popular spot for indie acts to play. Prominent performers play here and therefore their cover charges are a bit higher than the other places mentioned below; but still cheap compared to most Tokyo live music venues.
Garage is a great place to see bands, without paying insane cover charges. Live music in Tokyo can be expensive, but Garage is good to your wallet.
Live House: Fever
Fever is an awesome venue with an even better price point. Very affordable and their roster of shows is “indie” related, but varied in their styles.