24 Hours in Shimokitazawa Tokyo: Budget and Hipster Friendly

 
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Shimokitazawa is the hipster brother of Shibuya, boasting flannels, organic single origin coffee, and rows upon rows of records.  Hosting mostly young locals visiting the array of shabby chic coffee shops, thrift stores, and bars in the area.  I lovingly refer to it as Tokyo's Brooklyn (well, maybe the Brooklyn of a few years ago).  This neighborhood is great for a relaxing Sunday, strolling around and finding little treasures. Here's some of the best for a budget friendly day in Shimokitazawa:

10AM- Kick off with Japan's famous souffle pancakes

Even if you aren't a sweet breakfast person, you have to give these a try.  They're about 3 inches thick, so fluffy you could scream, and topped with mountains of, well, that's up to you.  Flippers is the most well known in the area, and you'll find yourself waiting a while for a seat here, but it's worth the wait.  If you're not down to stand in line for breakfast go to JS Pancake Cafe and order as much as you can stomach (and don't forget a pancake pie on you way out!).   Price: about $10-13

 one of the more traditional menu items

one of the more traditional menu items

11AM- Get you jam on

Shimokitazawa is mecca for all things old, so let's start with the music.  The area is littered with record shops, covering everything from new, special edition records to classic reggae and small-batch British punk.  A great thing about the Japanese used market is, you don't have to worry about condition.  Even a record with one blemish (not a scratch, mind you, a blemish.  Like, on the cover) will be noted and the price dropped.  Make sure to check out Flash Disc Ranch (major sale section in the back) and Disc Shop Zero.   Price: 0-millions

12:30PM- Take a gander at Antiquaille

A tiny shop jam-packed with everything antique under the sun, find your next film camera, figurine, or Army garb here.  Very reasonably priced, this spot has a little something for everyone.  Price: 0-millions

 
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1:30PM- Get stuffed on a curry or two

Nearly every Asian culture has a curry their known for, and nearly all of them can be found in SHimokitazawa.  Called curry town for a reason, there are streets lined with the stuff.  If you haven't tried the Japanese version yet, do it here.  Otherwise there's a cool, customizable soup curry at Cocoro that isn't too build-your-own to lose flavor.    Price: $6-13

2:30PM- Grab some new (to you) rags

Speaking of the used market in Japan, have you gone second hand clothing shopping here?  Please do.  Shimokitazawa had tons of spots to choose from like well established chain Chicago (Americana and kimonos), to corner 300Y shops and lesser known New York Joe.  Just strolls around this area will easily pull up Louis Vuitton for $250 (yes, a bag, with maybe a bit of wear on the corners) or threads from Prada or Comme des Garcons for $50.  Price: 0-millions

4PM- Have a coffee

There are so many great coffee shops in the area, it's hard to give recommendations.  Whether you want Australian coffee served up in a standing bar or American drip in a hammock, there's something for you.  If you're looking for a cup of joe costing less than $4 though, try Bookends, where it starts at 180Y in a still very cute atmosphere.  Price: $1.50-3

 
 Hipster hang out cafe stay happy.  Worth the $6 coffee

Hipster hang out cafe stay happy.  Worth the $6 coffee

 

5PM- Catch a live show

You don't have to speak Japanese to appreciate a show at the Honda Theater.  Watch a slap-stick Rakugo and make up your own words as you go. The stop by the "bookstore" and get a peak at the theatrical subculture of Japan.     Price: varies, about $9

6:30PM- Hang out in a cage

An outdoor venue plopped right under the station, this is the spot for people watching.  Grab a beer or snack from the food trucks and see a whole cast of characters emerging for the night.  Price: 0-$5

 you thought I was joking about the cage part, didn't you?

you thought I was joking about the cage part, didn't you?

7:30PM- Island noms

Another thing you should know about Japan is that kitschy absolutely does not mean bad.  Champ Rouse is a perfect example.  Serving up well-prepared and beautifully plated food from Okinawa, this three story joint looks like manga came to life.  Price: $10-25

9PM- Get a drink in a lair

There are as many themed bars in Shimokitazawa as coffee shops.  Stroll (or stumble) through the winding streets and take your pick.  Two faves are Mother Bar for the interesting decor or Bar Gari Gari for the beyond weird entertainment.   Price: $10-15 for one drink with cover charge 

 
 Entrance to Mother.. only gets stranger within

Entrance to Mother.. only gets stranger within

 

10PM- Go with the band

Hosting bands from Japan, America and beyond, Garage puts on four shows a week and is sure to win you over with one of them.  As one of the oldest and most established venues in the area, you're almost guaranteed a good crowd.  Check the schedule here.    Price: $10-20

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