5-minute train ride on Inokashira Line from Shibuya takes you to Shimokitazawa, where deep and cool culture is hidden underneath its down-to-earth first impression. The key to fully enjoy the town is knowing exactly where to go. Here are some of my recommendations for you to start from – try chatting up with people you meet to find places they love in this town.
Shimokitazawa Open Source Cafe
If you want some geek or design talk with the locals, make sure to stop by at Open Source Cafe coworking space. Just for 1,000 yen/all day (including one drink), get your mobile devices charged up and hop on the Wifi. It’s where Tokyo techies, designers, book authors/editors, cartoonists and students meet and work. Their library is powered by “Librize“, web service developed by the owner of the space and his friend. You can check out books using your Facebook account, or just browse through and learn Japanese tech & design trend among regulars of this coworking space.
6-11-14 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo (map) / 10:00 -20:00, closed on Fridays
Had too much coffee and needs something else for a break? Shisha Cafe offers hookah (waterpipe), cheap drinks and relaxed atmosphere until late at night. Smoking hookah is not what everyone expects in Japan, but that means you are likely to meet some people who enjoy unexpected.
3-30-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo (map) / 14:00 – Whenever
New York Joe Exchange
Shimokitazawa is a mecca of used clothing stores. So, how unique is NEW YORK JOE EXCHANGE? Well, their building once was a public bathhouse; the store is not as cramped as usual used clothing stores around here, and it’s fun to shop while thinking of the old time. As interesting as their namesake (“Nyuyoku-Jo” means bathhouse in Japanese) is their selection of clothes. If you’re into buying something different but don’t want to spend too much, you are going to like it here.
3-26-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo (map)
It’s not Bed and Breakfast, it’s Books and Beer! B&B is a newly opened bookstore / event space where you can order a pint from the counter while browsing books. Most of books are Japanse, but you will not feel so lost because of its comfy setup and beautiful publications they’ve hand-picked. And sure, beer will certainly help. For a quick bite, I also recommend the next door Tag Cafe, where you can search the next place to visit on an iPad placed on each table.
2-12-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo (map), 12:00-24:00