Shimokitazawa area sign

Discovering the Quaint Neighborhood of Shimokitazawa

Every spot in Tokyo has its own unique feature. Akihabara is a gaming mecca, Shibuya has its crossing and Harajuku is an iconic fashion district. Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling Shibuya and Shinjuku is Shimokitazawa, a uniquely popular neighborhood. The once quaint farming village has transformed into a dense residential area, and later into a thriving arts and music community.

Shimokitazawa in winter

Quiet Shimokitazawa street in winter.

The charming village is low key commercial and entertainment district in Setagaya,Tokyo and is also popularly known as “Shimokita”. The area began to evolve into a residential community after the devastating Great Kanto earthquake in 1921. Many of the people living in the inner city moved further out to avoid the potential dangers of living in such a densely populated urban environment. During World War II, Shimokitazawa survived the bombings and became one of the favorite go-to places for US soldiers after the war.

The streets in the area are lined with small independent fashion retailers, theaters, cafes, bars, and live music. Shimokitazawa is a vibrant, trendy neighborhood infamously described as bohemian, hippie, artsy, and indie with a hipster vibe. Shimokita has somehow escaped the lure of the many chain stores that make the other busier districts in the Tokyo area lose its old-world charm.

Shimokitazawa second-hand Shop

Shimokitazawa second-hand Shop.

The neighborhood of Shimokita can be compared to the back streets Ura-Harajuku, the smaller version of Harajuku and Koenji, where smaller shop units and vehicle restriction have less  of an appeal for the larger chains and other international businesses to take any interest in the area. This allowed the smaller mom and pop retailers to thrive in the area. The districts is comprised of streets surrounding Shimo-Kitazawa Station where the Odakyu Electric Railway and Keio Inokashira Lines intersect.

Shimokita rice cracker shop

Shimokita rice cracker shop.

Shimokita locals have always kept their area fresh with alternative shops and avant-garde ideas. It has become a gathering spot for creative people of all kinds as well a favorite hangout for many students from the nearby universities. The neighborhood has grown into one of the focal points of Tokyo’s thriving alternative youth culture. A great place to discover!