Shimokitazawa – A Guide to the Hippest Part of Tokyo
Shimokitazawa is a hive for Tokyo's young and hip. Discover why with our guide.
Shimokitazawa is renowned for being one of the coolest parts of Tokyo. With numerous live houses, theaters, bars and vintage stores scattered around the area, it has proven to be a popular destination for the young trendsetters of Tokyo. Unlike it’s more polished counterparts, Shibuya and Roppongi, the area has an undeniable character and charm which makes Shimokitazawa a great area for exploration. What’s more, being but a 15-minute train ride on the Keio-Inokashira Line from Shibuya, it’s well within reach from central Tokyo.
Shimokitazawa Bars & Nightlife
Shimokitazawa is brimming with quirky little bars with old school vibes. Most of them are run by locals who provide a very friendly service and, often, interesting late night conversations. Head out through the Shimokitazawa South Gate, and you’ll soon find lots of hidden little gems.
1. Music Bar Rockaholic Shimokitazawa
If you enjoy rock and pop rock music, give this bar a try. The bar itself is decorated with plenty of music references and classics are played in the background. Whether you are looking for a short pit stop or somewhere to boogie the night away, Music Bar Rockaholic could be for you.
Address: 2-6-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 18:00 - 05:00 Website: Bar Rockaholic Shimokitazawa
2. Little Soul Cafe
The first thing you will notice about the Little Soul Cafe is the impressive selection of records covering the walls, a tell-tale sign of this bars popularity with music enthusiasts and record buyers alike. Feel free to make song requests, ask for record buying advice or spark a conversation with the ever friendly staff.
Address: 3-20-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 21:00 - 04:00 Website: Little Soul Cafe
3. Cafe & Bar Comp.
If you are looking for the perfect combination of good food and drink in Shimokitazawa, this is the place for you. It’s also a popular spot for birthday celebrations though make sure you let them know in advance if you want the full works! As an added bonus, the bar also offers an exceptional view of Tokyo.
Address: 6F, 2-1-7 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 17:00 - 05:00
4. Good Heavens Comedy Club
A very well-regarded pub-style joint run by Brit expat Paul Davies. The vibe is relaxed, the interior cosy and the food and drink selection healthy. Good Heavens is also host to regular events; in the past including comedy nights and film screenings.
Address: 2F, 5-32-5 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 18:00 - 01:00/Fri 16:00 - 02:00/Sat 14:00 - 02:00/Sun 14:00 - 24:00 Website: Good Heavens Facebook Page
5. 下北沢 Mother
With an interior resembling a woodland grotto designed by Gaudi, Mother is certainly one of Shimokitazawa’s more original bars. Get over the wacky decor and you’ll discover a great menu of Okinawan and Thai food, a well-curated drink selection and a genial atmosphere soundtracked by old-school greats.
Address: 5-36-14 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Rock Mother
6. Beer Bar Ushitora
Ushitora, to be precise, is two bars: Ushitora One and Ushitora Two. The former a more formal affair, serving well-executed Western food, the latter more casual, with the drinks taking priority over the nevertheless tasty snack menu. In all, there’s 35 beers on tap, which no doubt makes it one of Tokyo’s most well-stocked bars.
Address: 6-3-27 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Ushitora
7. Bentley’s British Pub
Slightly away from Shimokitazawa’s epicentre, Bentley’s British Pub is worth the walk if you’re after a little slice of Blighty. Fairly spacious, friendly, good food, beer and lager on tap and a well-stocked liquor shelf – it’s got it all.
Address: M' s Shimokitazawa 1F, 2-24-9 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Bentley's British Pub Gnavi Page
Shimokitazawa Live Music Venues & Clubs
Shimokitazawa’s music scenes are very much alive, with gig events occurring regularly. Acting as the central part of the indie scene, it is a proven pit stop for many upcoming artists and big acts alike. Also home to the Shimokitaza Music festivals, this is one of Tokyo’s definitive hubs for music.
SHELTER is part of a collection of live music venues called the Loft Project (Shinjuku Loft, the Naked Loft and the Shinjuku Loft plus One). Although the smallest of the four, it’s almost always a full house at SHELTER so arriving early is recommended. Having been around for over a decade, this great little venue mainly offers performances by local acts and leans toward rock in terms of genre.
Address: B2F, 2-6-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Loft Project SHELTER
2. Club Que
Similar to SHELTER, this place has garnered a good reputation within the indie music scene. Attracting musical acts from a wide variety of genres, you’re guaranteed to find something to your taste. Hosting live bands and late night DJ’s, you’ll be entertained all day and night at Club Que.
Address: B2F, 2-5-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Club Que
3. Shimokitazawa THREE
Shimokitazawa THREE is a great spot for up and coming artists to showcase their talents and a good place to go if you want to discover new acts. This live house offers a variety of musical genres from punk, indie rock to DJ’s. The venue opens as early as 15.30 through to the early hours of the morning. Shimokitazawa THREE offers something for everyone.
Address: B1F, 5-18-1 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: THREE
4. Shimokitazawa Era
A relatively small, subterranean live house notable for its eclectic line up, dominated, perhaps, by rock and punk acts. Shows are typically pretty cheap and well attended.
Address: 2-34-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Era
4. Shimokitazawa (下北沢) Garage
Attracting both international and domestic acts, the Garage has proven to be a hub for rock acts in Shimokitazawa. Having opened its doors in 1994, it regularly draws large crowds. Their calendar is regularly updated and there is also the option of buying your tickets in advance.
Address: B1F, 3-31-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Garage
5. Shimokitazawa GARDEN
A decently sized live house with a special interest in rock, punk and up and coming artists. There’s events most nights of the week, meaning there’s always something to check out.
Address: 2-4-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: GARDEN
6. 下北沢 Club 251
A veteran venue of the Shimokitazawa music scene, Club 251 continues to put on some of the area’s most exciting shows. There’s visible signs of ageing, but, as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Address: 5-29-15 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Club 251
7. 下北沢 MORE
Although small, MORE is key to Tokyo’s DJ scene, an incubator for fresh talent and showcase for establised artists. Shows are always interesting and worth checking out.
Address: 2-18-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: More
8. Basement Bar
The name says it all with this simple but effective little venues. Popular with indie acts and fans for its cheap prices and rough and ready attitude.
Address: 5-18-1 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Basement Bar
9. Daisy Bar
A relatively large live house roughly 10 minutes from the station, with seperate performance and bar area, tables and a good line up of established and new acts.
Address: B1F, 2-2-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Daisy Bar
In 1982, Kazoo Honda, a former actor, built a collection of theaters around Shimokitazawa called the Honda Gekijo complex. Since then, Shimokitazawa has become a hotspot for theater fans and performers. Performances are regular and a great chance to see a lesser-explored side to Tokyo’s cultural landscape.
1. Honda Gekijo (本多劇場)
Address: 2-10-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
2. Ekimae Gekijo (駅前 劇場)
3. Off Off Theater (オフ・オフ・シアター)
4. The Suzunari (ザ・スズナリ)
Address: 1-45-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
5. Rakuen (小劇場 楽園)
Address: 1-10-18 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
6. Theater 711 (シアター711)
Address: 1-45-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
Actually a movie theater specialising in shorts, experimental films and forgotten gems.
Address: 2F, 5-32-5 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
Shimokitazawa Restaurants & Izakaya
If you start to feel a little peckish after your exploration around Shimokitazawa, you’re in luck. The streets abound with eateries and restaurants cater to every palette.
1. Champ Rouse (ちゃんぷるー 沖縄料理)
For Okinawan food, Champ Rouse is the most popular spot in Shimokitazawa. This Okinawan eatery has three floors with a range of different dishes to offer, and it’s guaranteed to transport you to the island itself.
Address: 5-32-7 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 18:00 - 01:00 (Closed on Mondays) Contact Number: 03-3413-6489
2. Mexican Dining Avocado (メキシカンダイニング アボカド 下北沢店)
If you’re a fan of Mexican food and avocados, you’re in for a treat here. Head here at lunchtime for the buffet, where diners can devour as much Mexican grub they can stomach, or, obviously, a more healthy avocado dish.
Address: 2-13-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Mexican Avocado
3. Genpachi (澤乃茶屋 源八)
For those of you who don’t know, yakitori is skewered grilled chicken and very popular dish in Japan. The menu here offers a range of different yakitori, as well as grilled fish, pork and vegetables. With a cold glass beer by your side, it’s a tasty dining experience.
Address: 2-18-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 17:00 - 24:00 Phone Number: 03-5430-4129
4. Magic Spice Shimokitazawa
Soup curry is a local dish from Sapporo. Rivalling ramen, soup curry has become hugely popular in Japan with the promise of sending you on ‘a holy trip into the unknown world of spice’. At Shimokitazawa’s number one soup curry spot you have the option of choosing your toppings, soup and spice level and you also receive rice as a side dish. If you haven’t tried this dish, this is your chance!
Address: 1-40-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 11:30 - 23:00 Phone Number: 03-5454-8801
5. Chabuzen (Vegetarian Ramen)
A tiny, unassuming ramen joint on a Shimkitazawa side street with one important twist: everything on the menu is vegetarian or vegan-friendly. The ramen is so fantastic carnivores are unlikely to notice the difference.
Address: 6-16-20 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Chabuzen Facebook Page
6. Tepito (メキシコ料理 テピｰト)
Tepito serves up authentic Mexican fare at reasonable prices; the vibe is always chilled and come the weekend you may even be treated to a few songs by a mariachi band.
Address: 3-19-9 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Tepito
7. Robson Fries
Canadian fast-food in the heart of Shimokitazawa. Unusual, yes, but tasty all the same. The speciality is chips (fries) topped with cheese, gravy, curry or chilli, which is, apparently, a dish hailing from Vancouver.
Address: 2-31-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Robson Fries
8. La Befana (Italian) Shimokitazawa
A solid Italian joint in the middle of Shimokitazawa. The lunch menu gives the best value: salad, pizza or pasta and a drink for just over 1,000 yen. Fantastico!
Address: 5-31-3 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: La Befana Gnavi Page
9. Shirube Shimokitazawa
A much-loved izakaya (Japanese pub), boasting a classy, traditional interior and food so good you won’t mind the rather high prices.
Address: 2-18-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Phone Number: 03-3413-3785
10. Zakoya Izakaya (ざこや)
A popular, family-run izakaya which serves up excellent Japanese specialities in a warm environment. Ask about that day’s specials for something a little different, but rest assured that whatever you order, it’ll be fantastic.
Address: 2-9-21 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Zakoya
Coffee is one thing that is always in style, even in hip Shimokitazawa. Indeed, the district has more than its fair share of cafes for the caffeine starved to choose from. Take a look.
1. Bear Pond Espresso
This coffee shop has been named as one of the best in Tokyo, attracting coffee connoisseurs from all over the city. The owner, Katsu Tanaka, even lived in New York to learn from the best and perfect his coffee making skills. However, expect it to be busy as the place is almost always brimming with other fellow coffee enthusiasts. With a book in hand, enjoy a shot of coffee at Bear Pond Espresso.
Address: 2-36-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 10:30 - 18:00 (Closed on Tuesdays) Website: Bear Pond
2. Frankie Melbourne Espresso
This coffee spot is known for bringing the Australian coffee scene to Tokyo. It’s a trendy shop providing you with authentic Melbourne coffee and a range of Australian desserts. With classics such as the lamingtons and brownies, browse through their menu to find something you’ll like.
Address: 2-12-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 11:00 - 21:00 Website: Frankie
3. Coffea Exlibris
Coffea Exlibris won first place in 2013’s Cup of Excellence Competition for its Brazilian Grota Sao Pedro, going some way toward explaining the popularity of this coffee shop. There is a wide choice of single origin coffee types and, for anyone interested, an information profile is provided with each cup.
Address: 5-8-16 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 13:00 - 22:00
4. On the Way, Coffee & Cupcake
A cafe so cutesy it’s almost sickly, which will nevertheless not fail to tempt you. The coffee is delicious, the cupcakes homemade and although there’s little room to hang around (hence the name), it’s still well worth popping in.
Address: A Flat 1F, 2-16-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: On the Way
5. Mois Cafe
A large-ish two-story cafe on a side street not too far from the station. The drinks menu is impressively extensive (coffee, tea, juice, alcohol) and the food menu simple but tasty. The relaxed vibe and spaciousness make it a great spot to while away a few hours in peace.
Address: 2-21-26 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Mois Cafe
6. Sunday Brunch
Simple, clean decor and simple, delicious food, Sunday Brunch has found a winning combo. Lunchtime is particularly popular for its inexpensive lunch sets, but popping in for a drink and some dessert is just as good of an idea.
Address: 2-29-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Sunday Brunch
7. Darwin Room
A cosy little nook of a cafe, Darwin Room is as much a museum of arrayed oddities as it is a purveyor of food and drink. Don’t be fooled, however, the drinks and desserts are still fantastic.
Address: 5-31-8 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Darwin Room
8. Waffle Cafe Orange
Unsurprisingly, waffles are the name of the game here. Savoury, sweet, large small, however you like them, Waffle cafe Orange will happily oblige. Compliment your waffle with a coffee, tea or beer, all for a very reasonable price.
Address: 2-26-21 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Waffle Orange
Is your sweet tooth tingling? Yes? You’ll need some dessert in you stat. Shimokitazawa, again, has you covered.
1. Deli & Baking Co.
As soon as you enter this store you will be greeted with scones, pancakes, pies and muffins amongst many other desserts. These desserts are freshly baked each morning and you are guaranteed to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth. There is the option of take-out, but if not, this coffee shop offers the perfect environment for your afternoon tea.
Address: 1F, 2-29-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 10:00 - 21:00
2. Shimokita Chaen Oyama (有 しもきた茶苑大山)
If you are interested in something a little more Japanese, head over to Shimokita Chaen Oyama. This café offers customers Kakigori, a shaved ice dessert with syrup. The syrup itself comes in three flavors; Matcha (green tea), Hojicha (roasted green tea) and Matcha Azuki (red bean). It’s a nice little treat to enjoy as an antidote to the sweltering summer heat.
Address: 2-30-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening hours: 14:00 - 18:00 Website: Shimokita Chaen
Shimokitazawa is not short of vintage stores, with alleyways lined with plenty of quirky little stores perfect for keen thrift shoppers. Prices vary, but with a little bit of thrifting, you are bound to find clothing within your price range. Unfortunately, second-hand cameras aren’t Shimokitazawa’s selling point. However, you’re in luck. Camera No Kitamura [Official Website / Google Map Link], a used camera store, is just a 15-minute train ride away in Shibuya.
1. Haight & Ashbury (ヘイトアンドアシュバリー)
This store is a haven for European-style vintage clothes, with male and female ranges and regularly updated collections. There is also some exceptionally beautiful jewelry on display, as well as brooches and handbags. On the higher end of the price range but still a great store to check out.
Address: 2F, 2-37-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 12:00 - 21:00 Website: Haight and Ashbury
2. New York Joe Exchange (下北沢店)
This vintage store allows shoppers to bring in their own items for sale or exchange. It can prove to be a fun thrifting experience, provided that the quality of the pieces you bring in meet the store’s requirements. Also, on the first Sunday of every month, the store reduces all of its items to half price, every thrifter’s dream!
Address: 3-26-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 12:00 - 20:00 Website: New York Joe Exchange
3. Ruby Tuesday (ルビーチューズデイ 下北沢)
A great, medium-sized vintage store, catering predominantly to men, with a slightly 60s/70s moddish vibe. There are certainly treasures to be found here.
Address: 5-36-16 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Ruby Tuesday Facebook
Keep an eye out and you’ll spot a number of branches of vintage store Chicago dotted around Tokyo. The Shimokitazawa branch is one of the biggest and best, however; where you’ll find menswear and womenswear of all types, for all budgets.
Address: 5-32-5 Daizawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Chicago
5. Flamingo Shimokitazawa
Another Tokyo vintage chain store, where, although prices are somewhat high, you’ll no doubt dig out something special.
Address: 1F, 2-25-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Website: Flamingo
Shimokitazawa Record Shops
If you’re a record collector, Shimokitazawa is your Mecca. Home to many second-hand stores, you don’t even have to break the bank to meet your music needs. Stores provide a wide range of music genres from funk and soul to rock and punk. You can easily spend an afternoon wandering between stores, sifting through some records.
1. Jet Set Tokyo (ジェットセット下北沢店)
This record store is a hotbed for DJ’s, selling records from all over the world. Its popularity has also been cemented by the fact that it produces its own records which are played internationally. As an added bonus, there is even an English version of their website.
Address: 201, 2-33-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 14:00 - 22:00 Website: Jet Set Records
2. Flash Disc Ranch (フラッシュ・ディスク・ランチ)
This store is hugely popular among young record collectors for its affordable pricing. The store was opened by Masao Tsubaki in 1982 who still stands behind the counter, providing record buying advice. It’s a great store if you’re looking for some record buying help.
Address: 2-12-16 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 12:00 - 22:00 Website: Flash Disc Ranch/CD Soft Case
3. Diskunion Club Music Shop (ディスクユニオン 下北沢店)
With 40 stores all over the Kanto region, this record store chain sells new and old records at a very reasonable price. There is a large selection of genres on offer, meaning you’re likely to find whatever it is you’re looking for.
Address: 1-40-6 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Opening Hours: 11:30 - 21:00 Website: Disk Union Shimokitazawa
Address: 2-23 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo
How to get to Shimokitazawa
Located in western Tokyo, Shimokitazawa is accessible on the Keio Inokashira Line or the Odakyu Odawara Line. Popular stops on these lines include Shinjuku, Shibuya and Kichijoji.
Shimokitazawa Travel Info
For more information, check out TripAdvisor.