There is no doubt, Shimokitazawa has the same energy of Shibuya and Harajuku. Yet with abit more of a laid back vibe leaning towards a bohemian atmosphere. Than the hustle and bustle, fast paced organized chaos of Shibuya. Nor the uber packed fashionista pavements of Harajuku on a weekend.
I would say this would be my second favourite place to spend a weekend at, after Kichijoji.
I had came across a quirky fortune reading corner, and a music cafe. Eavesdropping in the evening at one point, to a male singer strumming his guitar in a cute little zakka cafe hidden in one of the alley ways.
Zakka influenced cafes, numerous Vintage/Second Hand clothing shops catering to a more indie crowd perhaps mainly made of of the twenties and early thirties crowd.
Yet retaining it’s certain quiet dignity of a Japanese neighbourhood, with the existence of Traditional looking eateries and home fronts.
Seafood evidently still holds the main staple of a Japanese diet and evidently showcased. Through the display of fresh fishes and crustaceans to entice diners. An emphasis on food quality – Again very much appreciated.
Imagine Grafitti art galore, independent shops almost similiar to Haji Lane in Singapore but bigger. With much more flamboyant, forward and open fashion/design approach that is Japan.
Shopping feels like a reminiscent of the 90’s of Singapore’s Far East Plaza, where scouring the independent small shops with it’s Japanese inspired/imported fashion. When nooks and run down shops/pubs existed. And individualism was very much emphasized.
A mix of the old and new.
Shopping in Japan is never cheap in my books. But the satisfaction that comes with owning a piece that will not be found in Singapore – Joy.
To even be able to scour for 1000Yen bargains which was my main objective is possible – even better.
My impression of the focus here is mainly on second hand goods. With a few quirky and independent brands.
People here seemed abit more direct in approach and more openly approachable with a western influence. Not to forget good looking people galore. Tourists it seemed were not in abundance – Awesome.
Happily I managed to purchase a really good quality Japanese designed, dye dress from a African themed shop – Maasai Market for the price of a mere 1600Yen.
And a pretty well cut second hand jumper (Which looked brand new) made in Japan for a 1000Yen from Grand Bazaar! An outlet who seemed to have a few branches throughout the neighborhood with a really good selection of Second hand/Vintage clothing.
If only I had more time to spend around the neighborhood.
Customer service though differs compared to the rest of the areas in Tokyo I have visited so far. Though in most of the well maintained shops, one can definitely still expect tip top personalized service. I really appreciate the initiative taken when it comes to fashion advice and recommendations. Not overtly pushy and always polite. And in good taste.
Yet in a random small and casually maintained second hand shop, service is almost non existent. Trying on of clothes openly was possible. Which surprised me, considering that i have not came across that so far except in Shimokitazawa! Did I mention, there was even a small gift (Of a dragonfly brooch) that came free with my purchase? Sweet.
Something I have yet to find in SE Asia but in so far in Taiwan, Japan and Australia – Customer Satisfaction.
Cycling also seems to be encouraged with the numerous bicycles I saw parked as with in Kichijoji.
Let’s put it this way, this neighbourhood reminds of a European setting akin to a Yōshoku dish. Quirky that is Tokyo.