The Reinvention of Shimokita: Tokyo’s New Groove
The once-gritty Shimokitazawa area—or Shimokita, as the locals call it—strikes a stylish note.
The reinvention of this walkable, former punk-rock neighborhood began 10 years ago with the opening of Frank & Easy. At the tiny boutique, owners Ryo Shibata and Keisuke Morizawa turn salvaged gold into angular rings and pendants, and make cool clutches out of hand-dyed Italian leather. For lunch, follow the crowd down a narrow side street to the alwayspacked Rojiura Curry Samurai, which is furnished with vintage chairs and tables. Loyal fans love the curries (try the pork belly). Nearby, Rainbow Soko 3 is a sleek five-story warehouse with a gallery, artists’ studios, and shops selling surfboards and stationery. Don’t miss the café’s organic drip coffee. The bookstore B & B blends quirky intellectualism (they have lectures on topics such as impasse capitalism) with rotating beers like Osaka Minoh. The area is also known for intimate music venues, or “live houses.” If you have time for only one, make it Shimokitazawa Three, which gets going around 6 p.m. The eclectic lineup ranges from female punk DJs to electronic indie-folk acts.