1. Shimokitazawa
    Photo: Akulamatiau/DreamstimeShimokitazawa
  2. Ogawa Coffee Laboratory Shimokitazawa
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaOgawa Coffee Laboratory Shimokitazawa
  3. Brooklyn Roasting Company
    Photo: Brooklyn Roasting Company
  4. はしり 下北
    Photo: Keisuke TanigawaHashiri Shimokitazawa

40 things to do in Shimokitazawa: restaurants, cafés, coffee, shops and more

This west Tokyo neighbourhood is a hub for vintage fashion, vinyl records and independent cafés and restaurants

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Shimokitazawa’s relaxed bohemian vibe is a welcome respite from Tokyo’s fast-paced, frenetic energy – and yet it’s located surprisingly close to the city centre, just three minutes away from Shibuya Station on the Keio-Inokashira express line.

The neighbourhood, affectionately known as Shimokita by the locals, is an incubator for small, independent businesses. And it's known for two things: its treasure trove of vintage fashion and its love of vinyl records. In between stores selling one or the other – sometimes both – is a vibrant community of quaint cafés and cool restaurants scattered throughout Shimokitazawa's small streets and alleys. If that wasn't enough, the hip hub has seen a recent influx of new shopping and dining complexes, which has helped solidify its place as one of 2022's top 10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

So start your visit with a stroll down Ichibangai for some thrift shopping, then make a pit stop at one of the many soup curry restaurants Shimokita is famous for, and end your day at Bonus Track or Reload for a drink or two. A chill day out in Tokyo, sorted.

RECOMMENDED: Explore the coolest streets in Tokyo

Eat and drink

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

While Kyoto’s Ogawa Coffee may be best known for its kissaten-style cafés, the chain’s latest outpost in Shimokitazawa is an entirely new concept. Ogawa Coffee Laboratory is not a café, and can best be described as a bean salon, offering coffee masterclasses where you can learn to do more with your beans. 

The sleek salon sells numerous types of coffee beans and staff will teach you how to brew the best cup of joe using a selection of 40 different coffee tools.

  • Restaurants
  • Sushi
  • Shimokitazawa

Hashiri is a Tokyo offshoot of a San Francisco institution, which earned a Michelin star for three consecutive years between 2017 and 2019.

Hashiri serves up omakase courses consisting of exquisite sushi and kaiseki-style dishes paired with wine chosen by the inhouse sommelier. The fish at Hashiri are sourced from Toyosu market while the sushi is crafted by chef Tokunori Mekaru who trained at Hashiri San Francisco. The menu here changes every season to highlight the ingredients and produce at their prime.

There are roughly 120 labels of wine on offer, and they are all displayed on the restaurant walls. You can purchase bottles to take home, too, as the restaurant has an instore wine cellar and bottle shop.

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  • Restaurants
  • Daita

Entering this café hidden in residential Shimokitazawa feels like opening a secret door into the owner’s imagination. A good 15-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, Hi Monsieur is decorated with quirky knick knacks that seem random except for a vague association with Europe and America. 

Many of the cups, plates, clothes and books on display are also for sale, or you could just admire them while you savour a cup of coffee from Yokohama’s Tera Coffee. Light snacks on offer include a selection of baked goods from Higuchi Noriko and cinnamon sugar doughnuts from My Picnic.

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

This popular New York vegan burger joint has made its way to Tokyo and boy, does Superiority Burger live up to its name. The meat-free menu offers the store’s two signature burgers: the classic Superiority Burger with lettuce, tomato, mock cheese sauce and pickles, and the Sloppy Hide, a vegan take on a sloppy joe. There are Japan-exclusives, too, like the New Japan Creation burger, which features yuba (tofu skin), herbs, onions, pickles and mushroom mayo. Don’t miss the housemade gelato, where you get to pick from three seasonal flavours.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more spacious café in Shimokitazawa, especially one with free wifi. This Brooklyn import is located at the end of the Mikan Shimokita complex and it occupies a sprawling, lofty space.

The menu offers all the usual café drinks (which can also be made for takeaway) along with an extensive food menu. You can eat out all day at Brooklyn Roasting Company, with breakfast starting at 8am through to dinner last orders at 9pm. The food here is reminiscent of American diner staples – think breakfast plates, pastas, pizzas and steak. There’s freshly baked pastries, too, at the coffee counter if you just want a nibble.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Shimokitazawa

Kitade Tacos is one of the restaurants and bars at Shimokitazawa’s Nansei Plus area, which is also home to Tefu Lounge. The lively eatery features plenty of indoor seating as well as a small outdoor terrace. 

While Kitade Tacos prides itself on using local, Japanese ingredients, the flavours are unmistakably Mexican. The authentic corn tortillas are made from 100 percent Hokkaido corn and you can choose from a variety of fillings including pork carnitas, beef suadero and chicken tinga. For non-meat eaters, there’s a vegan option: tortillas topped with soybean tempeh, guacamole and avocado salsa.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

While there are a plethora of curry restaurants in Shimokitazawa, there’s only one offering a quirky combo of curry and gelato. Ordering here is similar to a ramen shop, where you purchase a food ticket via a vending machine. You can pick either two or three daily curries served with jasmine rice, along with condiments like pickled red onions and coconut sambol.

Always order your curry set with a cup of gelato for dessert. You can pick two flavours, and since this is a curry restaurant, you can expect Kalpasi to infuse its ice creams with spices. 

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Cheerful owner Takeda Masada brings the rice and sake of his home prefecture, Akita, to Tokyo at this casual food and drink spot. Masada comes from a family of rice farmers, and is passionate about the grain and all it produces. Bonus Track is the second Andon location, complementing the first shop in up-and-coming Nihonbashi. Inside the pint-sized Shimokitazawa store, you order at the counter, then take a seat around the courtyard to enjoy your Akita sake or beer and bites.

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  • Restaurants
  • Daita

Hakko means ‘ferment’ in Japanese, and fermented food and drink is the speciality of this grocery store and café – the cute logo is a creative version of the two kanji symbols for hakko. Opened by fermentation specialist Hiraku Ogura, the grocery and liquor section here has just about every fermented Japanese product you can think of – and many you didn't even know existed.

  • Restaurants
  • Ramen
  • Shimokitazawa

A shop with a name like ‘noodles of the future’ has to be doing something different, and the noodles here are like an udon-ramen hybrid. Handmade fresh every morning from mochi-hime wheat sourced from Mie prefecture, the noodles have a wonderfully chewy, or mochi mochi, texture that keeps ramen fans coming back for more. The speciality is the shio (salt) ramen, which costs ¥850 and comes with a hearty helping of the shop’s signature hand-cut noodles and a broth that isn’t too salty, so you can slurp up every last drop.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

To get here, wind your way through the backstreets south of Shimokitazawa Station for about 10 minutes – you’ll know you’ve reached Dashinsoan when you spot a traditional wooden gate fitted with noren curtains, and behind it a remarkably lush garden. Inside the soba specialty restaurant, the dining room is bright, spacious and serene, with large glass walls overlooking gardens and a leafy courtyard. In one corner of the light-filled open dining area, you’ll find the room where soba noodles are made fresh each morning, and the large granite grinder for making fresh buckwheat flour.

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

Located in the jumble of Shimokitazawa’s backstreets, this izakaya looks as traditional as they come, but serves up classics with a twist – think wholesome nikujaga (beef and potato stew) served with garlic bread, and a glorious ‘tofu cheese’ with honey. If there’s space and you’re not with a large group, try to nab one of the counter seats for a prime view of the chefs in action, plus a whiff of the fragrant pot of oden bubbling away.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

Ten To Sen has the most visually appealing spicy ramen around, prepared with an abundance of colourful toppings: wood-ear mushroom, cashew nuts, pepper, chives, coriander, burdock, red onion and pork slices. It may be pretty but it still packs a punch. This curry ramen is based on the Japanese-style soup curry originating from Sapporo. The spectacularly good curry is made with pork bones, chicken, seafood, vegetables and a handful of spices while a hint of sweetness works beautifully to counter the heat. Don’t worry if you’re not a spice fiend: you can choose from six levels of heat and order the rich lassi to cool your tongue.

Hiroki
  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

Okonomiyaki joints are dime a dozen in Shimokitazawa, but none of the others get quite as busy as Hiroki. Unlike Osaka-style okonomiyaki, in which the batter and fillings are mixed together before cooking, Hiroki makes them Hiroshima-style by spreading out the batter on a hotplate, and then topping it with cabbage, pork, noodles, egg and other ingredients.

Hiroki also offers noodle-free versions; however, first-timers in particular will want to go the whole hog, which is expertly prepared right in front of your eyes if you’re lucky enough to grab a counter seat. Seafood options are available for those averse to meat.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shimokitazawa

This kotatsu café, Stay Happy in Shimokitazawa is run by a cosmopolitan, English-speaking Japanese couple who travelled the world before opening their comfy base. A kotatsu is a low table with a small heater underneath and a blanket draped over it, making Stay Happy a perfect winter hangout. Besides the half-dozen kotatsu, you'll find communal tables and even some hammocks.

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  • Music and entertainment
  • Shimokitazawa

Owned by musician Keiichi Sokabe, this Shimokita joint combines the functions of a café and a record store. Tucked away on the fourth floor of an office building that's seen better days, City Country City stocks more records than the space can handle – as evidenced by the piles of vinyl stacked against the walls.

Genres range from acid folk to house and ambient, and you can listen to any disc of your choice on the in-store players. Look out for the monthly lounge parties, and remember to order a serving of the shop's much-vaunted pasta.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is Tokyo’s soup curry hot spot, and with its relaxed vibe and eclectic interior Ponipirica is particularly popular. Hailing from Hokkaido, soup curry is characterised by a flavourful broth infused with a bounty of spices, tender chicken cooked on the bone, and laden with a rainbow assortment of fresh vegetables like baby corn, lotus root, pumpkin, turnip, sweet potato and aubergine.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Shimokitazawa

Ballon D’essai’s café latte is difficult to drink, but this has nothing to do with the taste. In fact, according to Susumu the barista, the latte is made from secret blend of five beans, and it’s as mellow as the jazz wafting out of the speakers. The flavour is smooth with just a hint of bitterness; the balance between milk and coffee is just right.

What stops you from sipping your cuppa straightaway is the cute latte art adorning your drink. Whether it's a coffee or matcha latte, you can request designs for an extra charge – but we recommend that you leave it to the barista for a surprise.

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  • Restaurants
  • Daita

From baguettes and croissants to melonpan and aromatic herb focaccia, all the goodies at this vegan bakery are free from eggs, milk, butter and honey. We recommend the amazake roll, which has a naturally sweetened white bean paste mixed with amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink) in the centre of a satisfyingly chewy bread roll.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Shimokitazawa
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Opened in 1980, Trois Chambres feels a world away from the busy streets of Shimokitazawa. Antique cups line the shelves, regulars strike up conversation over the counter and the corner tables are practically always occupied by someone reading a book – time truly appears to stand still at this kissaten, which might even feel a little intimidating for first-timers. But fear not: the cheesecakes here are heavenly and the coffee comes with a free refill.

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

If you're on the hunt for a reasonably-priced wine bar, head straight to Hagare. It's run by the popular imported goods store Kaldi, where Tokyoites go to get their hands on  international wine, cheese and other foreign goods.

Hagare comes from the Japanese word for 'peeling', and it refers to the condition of the wine bottles here, many of which have labels with minor imperfections. However, this doesn't affect the contents of the bottles, which is just as good to drink.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Shimokitazawa

Try craft beer from around the world at Shimokitazawa’s Coaster Craft Beer and Kitchen. Boasting 15 taps in total – five from Europe, five from North America and five from Japan and Asia – there’s no shortage of unique brews to try. Pair your beer with either lunch or dinner; the open kitchen serves up classic hamburgers and sandwiches as well as buttermilk fried chicken and barbecue pulled pork.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Shimokitazawa

Operating in what used to be a public bathhouse, this spacious store sells imported, non-branded used clothing, while also buying items from customers, or even allowing them to swap threads they no longer want for pieces from the store. (The clothes have to meet certain criteria though – so showing up with a sack of baggy old T-shirts isn’t going to get you much more than a raised eyebrow.) Look out for the incredible sale on the first Sunday of every month, when everything is half price.

  • Shopping
  • Consignment store
  • Shimokitazawa

A haven for thrifters, this small shop tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming building sells everything at just ¥800. It mainly offers used clothing, accessories and re-styled fashion items, but you'd be hard-pressed a find a better deal elsewhere. Dig deep enough through the massive denim pile and you might even find some familiar labels such as Levi's and Lee in the mix.

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  • Shopping
  • Shimokitazawa

This Shimokitazawa store – sibling to its Harajuku and Kichijoji namesakes – stocks a mix of new clothing and American vintage duds that date from the ’40s to the ’80s. Thanks to its US-based buyer, new stock comes in quickly, and there’s a good selection of both men's and women’s clothing – as well as a few extras such as retro-look tableware. You can count on the prices here being low, and if you stop by at the right time you might even catch one of their occasional sales.

  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops
  • Shimokitazawa

Stocking a wide selection of vintage sneakers, Soma sources its curated selection locally as well as from North America. Sifting through the store you'll mainly find rare and secondhand kicks from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Converse. We highly recommend you check the website often to see what's new in store.

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  • Shopping
  • Shimokitazawa

A giant scarlet shoe marks the entrance and sets the tone for Haight & Ashbury, a chic store that specialises in American and European clothing from the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s been plying its trade for more than 20 years now – and it’s in good hands too, as the owners also run vintage store Boy and boutique store Fake Tokyo in Shibuya.

The shop is divided into menswear and womenswear (with a slight skew towards the ladies) and there’s a vintage section where you’ll find old lacy numbers, embroidered antique dresses and summery floral accessories.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Daita

Small but substantial, Pianola Records has quickly become a favourite haunt for local music otaku (nerds) for its eclectic collection of tapes and, of course, vinyl featuring unique and rare music from around the world. You’ll find soul, jazz, classical, experimental tunes and much more housed in its neat timber shelves. The store’s owner also runs a record label, Conotala, so if you’re lucky, you might even be able to pick up a pressing by a local artist – they tend to sell out fast, though.

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  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Shimokitazawa

One of the top record stores in Shimokitazawa, an area littered with shops dealing in both vinyl and CDs, the spacious Flash Disc Ranch is found on the second floor of a run-down building on the south side of the station. The vintage sound system is usually turned up almost all the way, accompanying your search for everything from rock and jazz to house and new wave. Make sure to check out the 'three discs for ¥2,000' box, which has been known to contain real gems from time to time.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Shimokitazawa

Based in Shimokitazawa and Kyoto (and online), Jet Set covers all genres with albums selected by expert buyers. If you’re looking for soft rock, soul, house, disco and techno, you won't be disappointed. And if you’re into Japanese pop, you’ll be amazed by Jet Set’s limited-edition 7/12 inch records.

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  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Shimokitazawa

Stockmart is a lifesaver for those living in Tokyo. The inconspicuous shop, tucked away in a basement just a few minutes’ walk from Shimokitazawa Station, offers a large selection of goods you’d usually find at Costco. The best part is, you don’t need a Costco membership to shop here. Plus, everything is separated into smaller portions so you don’t have to buy in bulk.

Do

  • Things to do

Shimokitazawa has just opened Mikan Shimokita, a brand new commercial complex built right under the Keio Line tracks. 

While the name of the new development might have you thinking of oranges, ‘Mikan’ in this case is short for mikansei, which translates to ‘unfinished’ or ‘incomplete’. One of Shimokitazawa’s charms is its constant state of transition, continuously changing with a new, diverse mix of people and businesses.

  • Shopping
  • Daita

Bonus Track is a group of about a dozen shops gathered around a small courtyard in Shimokitazawa. Just a three-to-four-minute walk from the southeast exit of Shimokitazawa Station, the area feels like a small town. The stores include a sake shop, a juice bar, a record shop that also serves Taiwanese food and a bookshop with craft beer. You can mix and match food and drinks from any of the shops and grab a table outside, or dine-in at one of the venues with indoor seats. 

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  • Things to do

This sleek complex is designed to encourage visitors and store owners to connect and interact with each other. The stark white building is accented with lush greenery courtesy of Solso Park, and there’s also a ton of free public seating, with tables and benches dispersed around the building for people to relax and hangout. You’ll find a number of restaurants, cafés, shops, a bookstore, and even a barber shop.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Tokyo’s trendy neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa just keeps getting cooler with the addition of new developments like Nansei Plus, which is home to Tefu LoungeThe complex is also connected to Shimokita Ekiue, the shopping centre attached to Shimokitazawa Station.

Tefu Lounge is a mish-mash of hip, new venues like organic supermarket Bio-Ral, Kitasando Coffee, French café Belleville Brûlerie, and the mini theatre Shimokita Ekimae Cinema K2. True to its name, the second and third floors feature comfortable lounges designed for co-working, while the fourth floor has shared offices and the fifth floor features an event space.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Shimokitazawa

Located on the busy shopping street of Ichibangai, this quaint gallery is a place for young, up-and-coming artists to showcase their work. To know what's showing, check the gallery's official website for its exhibition roster.

Suzunari Yokocho
  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

This alley is sandwiched between two local theatres: Theater 711 on the left and Suzunari to the right (the latter is the Honda Gekijo troupe's oldest theatre and a Shimokita landmark). Walk through the middle entrance and you'll find the yokocho; this narrow alleyway was once dedicated to rehearsal rooms, but now houses about a dozen small restaurants and bars.

Stay

  • Hotels
  • Higashi-Kitazawa

Adjacent to Shimokitazawa's Reload complex is the youthful, minimalist Mustard Hotel, which opened its first property in Shibuya Bridge in 2018. Designed by architect Shin Ohori, this second property features a clean, modern aesthetic with plenty of greenery and seating areas for people to socialise.

The hotel offers 60 rooms ranging from semi-double bunk beds to deluxe abodes with spacious outdoor balconies. All rooms come with a record player. To enjoy that, just pick up a vinyl from the pop-up shop at the hotel lobby; you can rent records for free during your stay.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Yuen Bettei Daita is a day spa, ryokan and tea house rolled into one. The ryokan is situated at the edge of the trendy Shimokitazawa neighbourhood, though you wouldn’t know it from inside the hotel. With indoor and outdoor onsen baths featuring alkaline water sourced from the natural springs of Ashinoko Onsen in Hakone, this traditional haven feels miles away from the city. Arguably the best thing about this place is you don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy the facilities. 

Attuned to the needs of city folk who just want the experience of an onsen getaway without actually leaving the city, the ryokan offers several packages for daytime guests who aren’t planning to spend the night.

Check out other 'hoods

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