entrance to Shimokitazawa

An Afternoon in Shimokitazawa (下北沢)

shimokitazawa welcome sign

Shimokitazawa: Tokyo’s Hipster Paradise

New York has Brooklyn and Los Angeles has Abbot Kinney, but Shimokitazawa is Tokyo’s answer to those hipster enclaves.  Shimokitazawa is only five minutes away from Shibuya by train.  Unlike its neon-splashed neighbor’s packed streets, Shimokitazawa is a quieter and dare we say hipper place to spend time.  When you mention the neighborhood to locals, they’re likely to mention the dozens of used clothes stores that dot the streets.  However, due to a station redevelopment and the rise of three new development projects the neighborhood is getting more “oshare” than ever.

Sidewalk Coffee

If you haven’t already gotten your coffee fix in nearby Tomigaya, then be sure to stop by Sidewalk Coffee.  This small storefront in the lobby of the minimalist Mustard Hotel has an array of coffee and pastries.  Inside the shop you’ll find creative types heads down on their latest venture at the family-style study table.  If there’s warmer weather, we recommend sitting outside for some people watching as folks head towards Shimokitazawa Station. Sidewalk roasts and brews its own coffee, so coffee aficionados should make a point of stopping by. For those guests looking for something stronger, they typically have a couple of craft beers on tap.  Last time they had a Yorroco Beer from nearby Zushi and an additional ale from Kyoto Brewing.  Whether refueling from your day or fueling up, Sidewalk Coffee has what you need for a successful day in Shimokitazawa.

sidewalk coffee mustard hotel
sidewalk coffee menu
sidewalk coffee shimokitazawa food
sidewalk coffee outside
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Secondhand Clothes Hotspot

No matter what street you’re on in Shimokitazawa, you will be within sight of a used clothing store.  For fashionable Tokyo youth looking for used goods, there’s no better place to be. Many of the stores have their own specific niches, but larger operations share similar themes.  For instance, you’ll find all manner of US college and university, as well as sports apparel.  If you’re not in the market for used clothes, it’s still worth dropping into a few shops to get a sense of the style that represents the neighborhood.

The High Line-esque “reload”

In the past few years, the area around Shimokitazawa has undergone a dramatic transformation.  Inspired by The High Line in NYC, many cities are finding ways to repurpose old railway tracks and Tokyo is no exception.  In Shimokitazawa, a new 24-shop development named “reload” has popped up in the last year.  Sidewalk Coffee and the Mustard Hotel are part of this development, but the centerpiece are the independent shops that fill the white washed walls.

As of February 2022, not every storefront has opened, but more are opening by the week.  Right now you can find a barber shop, a bespoke coffee shop, coffee table book shop, and even a vegan bakery.  Vegan food in Tokyo have been hard to come by, but with its growing popularity it’s unsurprising to find one at reload.

The setting of reload is also purpose built for the Instragram era as the all-white design lends itself to many a photo shoot.  Additionally, the angles, corners, and views from the second floor are often occupied with aspiring influencers.

reload Entrance

A Hipster Neighborhood without Craft Beer?

It wouldn’t quite be a hipster neighborhood without great craft beer, now would it?  Shimokitazawa doesn’t disappoint and its craft offerings are expanding with each new development. If you’re exhausted from a day of shopping or just want a quieter drink, we have three spots that we recommend.

First up, is Tap and Growler.  Their two locations in Shibuya and Shimokitazawa have some of the best variety and depth to their tap selections.  The Shimokitazawa shop is a tad smaller than Shibuya, but it creates an intimate and cozy environment in which to enjoy a beer. Tap and Growler’s strength is that they’re able to sell large cans or growlers of any of the beers on tap.  If something has struck your fancy, you’re welcome to buy enough to bring back to your hotel!

tap and growler exterior
shimokitazawa location tap and growler
tap and growler 下北沢2
tap and growler 下北沢1
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For a larger group atmosphere, we recommend Coaster.  Coaster specializes in sourcing their ~20 taps from geographies around the world to provide unparalleled choice.  In addition, they have a great food menu with Korean-inspire flavors in standard pub grub options. Beyond the drinks, the industrial atmosphere is incredibly welcoming and attracts a diverse crowd.

coaster shimokitazawa exterior
Coaster Bar
Coaster Food Menu
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Last is the just opened TDM 1874 Brewery in the amazing new Tefu Lounge complex. Located at the Odakyu only exit of Shimokitazawa, this new five-floor complex has a theater, restaurants, and TDM 1874.  When thinking about the future of Shimokitazawa, Tefu Lounge is exactly the kind of multi-purpose, but still independent, development that keeps popping up.

In addition to Tefu Lounge, there’s already construction (seen below) on a new under-the-tracks development near the main entrance of Shimokitazawa Station.

tefu lounge

How To Get To Shimokitazawa?

The Keio Inokashira Line runs frequent, express non-stop trains between Shibuya and Shimokitazawa.  Shimokitazawa has great food options in its own right, but if you’re staying in Shibuya it’s easy to get back for dinner.

Where To Stay in Shimokitazawa?

For western-style hotels, there aren’t a ton of options in Shimokitazawa itself.  Given its proximity to Shibuya, it may be more central to stay there.  However, the neighborhood is clearly undergoing change and is now home to the Mustard Hotel.  This boutique hotel, with Sidewalk Coffee in the lobby (!) is an affordable and chic option to stay in the neighborhood.

Mustard Hotel Shimokitazawa

Mustard Hotel Shimokitazawa

With a stay at Mustard Hotel Shimokitazawa in Tokyo (Setagaya), you’ll be within a 5-minute drive of New National Theatre Tokyo and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. Featured amenities include multilingual staff, luggage storage, and laundry facilities.


Navigating Shimokitazawa

All told, Shimokitazawa is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo.  Beyond the places to shop and drink, there are plenty of places to eat as well!  Whether for an afternoon or a full day, there’s plenty to do in Shimokitazawa!

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