When you think of Tokyo, you may think of the blaring lights of Shinjuku and the hustle and bustle of Shibuya Crossing. But, one thing that may surprise you is that Tokyo has a blossoming secondhand scene underneath all that. Shimokitazawa is a lively area west of Shibuya that boasts a unique and trendy shopping experience.
Locals and tourists know and love this vibrant neighborhood for its secondhand stores, vintage clothing shops, and cafes. It has quickly become a popular destination for one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and a glance back to the ’80s. With its energetic atmosphere and secret streets, it’s easy to see why Shimokitazawa has become a must-visit area!
Shimokitazawa station is located in the western part of Tokyo and is easily accessible by train. The best way to get there is by taking the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station. The train ride takes only 5 minutes and costs around 160 yen (1.20 USD).
Alternatively, you can take the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station, which takes about 15 minutes and costs 130 yen (1 USD). Both stations are located in central Tokyo, making it easy to reach Shimokitazawa anywhere in the city!
In the early 1900s, Shimokitazawa was a rural area on the outskirts of Tokyo. However, with the construction of the Odakyu Line train tracks in the 1920s, the area began to grow and develop into a bustling residential neighborhood. The Odakyu Line connected Shimokitazawa to Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s major transportation hubs, making commuting to and from the area easier.
During the 1950s and 60s, Shimokitazawa became a hub for the performing arts, with several theaters and live music venues opening in the area. The neighborhood also became a popular destination for young people and artists, with a lively counterculture scene emerging.
In the 1980s and 90s, Shimokitazawa continued to develop as a center for alternative culture, with many independent businesses opening in the area, including secondhand stores, record shops, and unique boutiques.
The neighborhood also became known for its underground music scene, with many bands and artists getting their start playing in Shimokitazawa’s live music venues.
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There are dozens of stores selling various vintage and secondhand clothing. Whether you’re after t-shirts, dresses, jackets, trousers, and accessories, Shimokitazawa has it all!
The streets in Shimokita (as the locals adoringly call it) are lined with stores making it a bit overwhelming knowing which ones to go to, especially for a bargain. So where can you go in Shimokitazawa for thrift shopping?
One of the most well-known secondhand stores in Shimokitazawa is Flamingo. Located just a few minutes from the station, this iconic store is spread across three floors. It offers a vast selection of vintage and retro clothing from the 60s to the 90s. If you’re looking for something unique and stylish, Flamingo is a must-visit destination!
Another popular chain of thrift stores in Shimokitazawa is Chicago. With several locations in Tokyo, including one in Shimokitazawa, the store offers various clothing and accessories for both men and women, from vintage to modern styles.
For high-end designer clothing, shoes, and accessories, check out New York Joe Exchange. They have a great selection of items from brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent and are a great option if you’re looking for something more upscale.
This store is one of the favorites to visit, not just for its clothes. But for the interior too! This clothing store is located in a former bathhouse that was renovated! Make sure to come for the clothes, but stay for the architecture of cool vibes!
Kinji Used Clothing and Treasure Factory Style are great options for a more budget-friendly approach! These stores are known for their affordable prices and various styles, from vintage to modern. They have a large selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories for both men and women.
In addition to secondhand clothing, Shimokitazawa is known for its vintage clothing shops! These stores offer a curated selection of high-quality vintage clothing from Japan and worldwide. Many stores have a specific theme, such as 50s Americana or 70s disco, making finding the perfect vintage outfit easy. Some popular stores include Big Time, which specializes in vintage workwear and denim, and Little Trip To Heaven, which has a wide selection of vintage blouses, sweaters, camisoles, and dresses. Other stores to check out include Flamingo, Second Street, and Kindal.
If you’re looking for unique home décor or quirky gifts, Shimokitazawa’s secondhand stores also offer a wide variety of furniture and knickknacks. You can find unique furniture at stores like Tokyo Recycle, which has a wide selection of mid-century modern furniture and home décor. And Antique Yamamoto Shōten, which specializes in vintage furniture and restorations. But we suggest walking down the bustling streets to find one-of-a-kind Japanese items!
You’ve traversed the winding roads of Shimokitazawa; now it’s time to take a break and review your spoils! Shimo has various cafes and restaurants catering to different tastes and preferences. You’ll find plenty of options whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal.
Some popular cafes in the area include Bear Pond Espresso, known for its delicious coffee and cozy atmosphere. Sarutahiko Coffee has a wide selection of specialty drinks and pastries.
Other cafes to check out include Blue Bottle Coffee, a popular chain from California, and Streamer Coffee Company, which has a wide selection of coffee drinks and snacks!
Shimokitazawa is a vibrant and exciting neighborhood in Tokyo that’s well worth a visit, especially for first-time visitors to the city! Whether you’re a fashion lover, a foodie, or just looking for a fun and unique experience, Shimokitazawa has something for everyone.
Would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
Tokyo based writer that's very enthusiastic about snacks, treats and all things sweet!
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