THE SHIMOKITA SOUL

Last week, I blogged about chancing upon KOENJI and how much I loved its dynamic energy. If you have been following my blog or if it is just your first time to read an entry, you'll more or less figure out how I prefer to go and visit the less dense and traveled areas of a city or a country. I find pleasure in discovering the culture, the unknown, and the creative ambiguities that I get to see and experience when I go to places like these. This week, I shall be sharing with you the kitschy and charming soul of Shimokita or Shimokitazawa.
Despite it being far enough from the central Tokyo district, Shimokitazawa is a destination for bohemian, creative souls, and the like. Known for its array of vintage clothing shops, unique concept cafes, live house, retro furniture, and art studios, Shimokita is a neighborhood that is just a few train stops away from Shibuya or Shinjuku. The place is a household name for every budget traveler and the like, from the indie fashion outlets and 500 yen pizza, it's definitely a place worth visiting if you have a few hours to spare when you are visiting Tokyo. 
If Seoul had HONGDAE, Tokyo has Shimokita. Visually, you will never get tired of looking at different typographic signs, architectural textures, and different fashion concepts. It is a great place for those who are seeking to have some pump of creative juice flowing in their drained system (like me!) ;) Shimokita is divided into two areas, the northern part would be that of the shopping areas and quirky restaurants and cafes and the southern area is heavily focused on music halls, tattoo shops, and bars. I would like to describe my walking experience as a labyrinth experience - you will never know which one you will run into and if you've already been on that same area!
So how did we navigate? We followed what I read on JAPAN TRAVEL which was to take the north exit and take a right turn to Ekimaedori. This is not really a strict rule, as this is a very contradicting view from the concept of exploring. But there's no harm on starting systematically to avoid wasting time as well! To be honest, we arrived at a good time because there were less people around due to the holiday blues. The only thing we struggled with was the navigation which in the end we decided to reject and just let our feet take us to places (as cliche as it might sound!).
What I loved about Shimokita is its nonchalant approach to modernity and uniformity. Unlike the other parts of Tokyo, you will see more color and informal yet creative approaches to design, architecture, and lifestyle. This is probably one of the reasons why it is considered as one of the highest three cities that young people would like to reside in in Tokyo.
Though most famous for its indie fashion outlets, there are a few stores that carry in retro furniture and even porcelain collections. Some of the retail carriers of clothing also merged in some furniture and home accessories in their store.
Penchant as it may seem, I still found it really nice and a little bit haunting to see old houses like this to remain as a residence in the middle of commercial establishment. It gave a trace and a quick mental flashback of how the town looked like when it was less commercialized and urbanized.
Young blood. This is definitely one of the places in Tokyo where I found a lot of young people strolling and hanging out. I know, since I rode the train with most of them, that these kids actually come from the central Tokyo and it's just amazing how they would prefer to go the more out-skirted part of the Metro to find things and hangout. 
There were a lot of Flamingo stores around the area! One would not be enough as this store particularly has a wide variety for clothes, bags, and shoes at a cheaper price. Not to mention, their very eye catching neon signs are also a must see for the 'grammers and those who just really fancy them.

One of the things that I noticed also would be the unique fashion of the people who were walking around. I was expecting to see these people in Harajuku, but I actually encountered more fashionistas and Lolita fashionistas in this area!
There's always room for bargain and for finding the right piece. Shimokita is a place where one should spend time to look around and really see everything to be able to get the best deal and the best find! We saw a lot of shoe outlets and fashion outlets with the same style and brand but they vary in price and even offers, some come with accessories, and some with discounts! It's really a skill to select and get the best deal there is!
After walking and exploring, a Shimokita experience will never be complete without dining and getting yourself a drink! As for our case, we randomly found this cafe named Rainbow Kitchen that was situated at the second level of a two-story building with retail shops at the ground floor.
I like how small and quaint the place is, it's just fit for people who are in for an intimate dining session with a friend or two. The servers were very friendly as well despite our great language barrier, they were able to understand and serve us in the best way that they can!
My forever and always date, who lovingly and willingly always say yes to all the crazy and random things I ask for us to take. I will never get tired travelling with you :)
To be honest, the trip to Shimokita was very short and lacking. I know there are still a LOT to be covered and seen. We came in the afternoon and on a New Year's holiday at that, so shops were mostly closed and I had limited light source to discover all the bright and fun things to see. It's definitely a place worth going back to and it's on my list!

How to get to Shimokitazawa: 
Take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku Station or Keio Inokashira line from Shibuya Station.

I cannot wait to go back and explore more of Shimokitazawa. Second to Koenji, I definitely found myself belonging to this place! Have you been to Shimokitazawa? Let me know what you experienced and how you thought of the place!

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