Archive for the ‘Setagaya City’ Tag

tokyo: the quirky neighborhood of shimo-kitazawa   2 comments

Saturday, July 15:  As my time in Japan is winding down, I’m slowly but surely marking places off my go-to list.  This hot summer Saturday, I’ll cross off two places, the neighborhood of Shimo-kitazawa and the Yamatane Museum; the museum features an exhibit by Japanese artist Kawabata Ryushi. I’ve decided I’m going to try to do one museum during each of my remaining outings, the main reason being to escape from the heat and humidity into an air-conditioned environment, at least for part of the day.

Shimo-kitazawa is a bohemian neighborhood of narrow streets that has been a favorite hang-out for students, musicians and artists. Although there is an active underground bar, music and theater scene, I’m interested mainly in the quirky boutiques, secondhand shops, and cafes. It turns out I am surprised by the colorful street art and delightful vibe of the neighborhood.

Shimo-kitazawa

It seems I’m always arriving in places right around lunchtime, so I immediately begin looking for a place to eat.  I’m not in a rush, as it’s only 11:40, so I can wait until the right place calls to me.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

One of the nicest attributes of Shimo-kitazawa is its lack of cars. Despite being on the intersection of two major train lines, there are no proper roads – only narrow lanes barely wide enough to drive down.  Riding bicycles and walking are the main modes of transportation.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

At a few minutes after noon, I stop into a small family restaurant where the woman speaks perfect English.  I order a salad, asparagus soup, and fresh bread.  It’s also a nice escape from Tokyo’s relentless heat.

lunch stop

After lunch and feeling refreshed, I continue on my merry way through the colorful streets.

Shimo-kitazawa

fashionable street art in Shimo-kitazawa

I love the street art, the funky store windows, the laundry hanging on balconies, and the container gardens I pass in the neighborhood.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

In one area of Shimo-kitazawa, I stop in at several women’s clothing boutiques, where I buy a couple of cute tops. 🙂  Now my bag is heavier, and I have more places to go!

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Always drawn to vibrant colors, I find myself enticed by a wild sticker-covered table sitting outside of a shop called B-side Label; the entire shops sells stickers.

sticker shop in Shimo-kitazawa

sticker shop in Shimo-kitazawa

The salesgirls are easy-going and welcoming and I ask them if I can take pictures of the stickers.  They’re quite expensive but very cool.  For example, there is a sticker of Tokyo Tower shown in different colors, at sunrise, mid-day, sunset and night-time.  Each sticker has several different versions.  Besides the vast array of fun stickers, the shop offers respite from the heat, so I linger for some time.  I find souvenir stickers of Tokyo sights, plus I get stickers for my three children, based on their interests (food, exercise and surfing).  In the end, I spend about 2,120 yen ($19.50) on stickers, which luckily don’t add any weight to my bag. 🙂

Just before getting on the metro, I see this pretty flower shop.  If I lived permanently in Japan, I’d love to live in this neighborhood and take home a potted plant, even though I’d probably kill it before long (I usually do, quite by accident). 🙂

Flower shop in Shimo-kitazawa

I get on the metro at Shimo-kitazawa Station heading to Shibuya.  Then I’ll change to the Yamanote line to Ebisu Station; from there I’ll walk to the Yamatane Museum. Little do I know how hot and exhausted I’ll be after that! 🙂

 

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