Shimokitazawa is a Tokyo suburb known for its colorful youth subculture scene. Here, you will come across all kinds of eclectic book stores, bars, vendors, and artists like no other neighborhood in Tokyo. Many of these are open until late at night, and are a great destination for the adventurous night owl!
This article will specially pick up on 3 of these locations, that are all perfect for enriching your quirky Shimokitazawa experience. Mingle with bookworms and discover new tomes at a town bookstore, and explore a jungle of exotic products at the Shimokitazawa night market. A night outing like no other awaits you in Shimokitazawa!
Things to do in Shimokitazawa! The City comes to Life after 8:00PM
Shimokitzawa is a Tokyo suburb known for music, theatre and subculture., The neighborhood boasts a nightly buzz like no other.
For many decades, Shimokitazawa has been a magnet for young actors and musicians dreaming of success. These young men and women spend large portions of their days practicing their band performances or stage plays, and often exchange stories throughout the night. Shimokitazawa thus becomes a neighborhood of late mornings and long nights; the city's many antique clothing stores and cafes regularly open their doors around noon and close deep into the night.
This makes Shimokitazawa a great place to visit at night. At a time where you would only expect bars to be open, Shimokitazawa will greet you with a much larger variety of stores.
Here are 3 places and things for you to enjoy during your night visit to Shimokitazawa, that you definitely should not miss out on past 8:00PM!
1. Read, drink and mingle with bookworms at Bookstore B&B
This is the perfect place to visit if you are craving for more of Shimokitazawa's subculture, even after a gig or a theatre show.
B&B is about a 2-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, tucked away in the basement of a commercial building. B&B stands for “book and beer,” and as its name suggests, it is a place to enjoy reading while drinking.
B&B is a 2-minute stroll away from the local station
Walk down to the basement to find B&B
A massive book collection welcomed us as we stepped inside B&B. At a first glance, it seemed like an ordinary bookshop, but they had more to offer than just books.
In the back of the shop, there were tables and a counter serving craft beers brewed in various areas of Japan. They also had wine and soft drinks. This is a fantastic place to unwind, sit back, and enjoy a book with a delicious drink in hand.
B&B displays its new book recommendations next to the entrance
Payments and orders are made at the counter in the back
B&B has gained a steady following since opening in 2012, and it moved to its current location at the end of 2017.
B&B is open until 11PM, making it a nice place to drop by on a whim, late at night.
The books are organized by genres, and the vast selection includes novels, visual dictionaries, and photo books. There are also many books about music, art and other genres that strike the hearts of Shimokitazawa's people.
Film-related books on display in this corner of the store
The books are hand-selected by the store staff, and are generally not the best-selling books that you would see lining the shelves of popular bookstores. You are more likely to see books of more niche genres and tastes, and the bookstore also stocks various lifestyle products to enrich your daily reading. Pick up a beer, forget about time
Bookshelves and furniture are also for sale
If you like the vintage Scandinavian bookshelves, why not buy them ?
The bookshelves already hold books, so it is easy to visualize them standing in your home or office.
Price tags attached to vintage bookshelves
If you fancy any of the chairs, you can also purchase them on the spot.
Most of them were made in Scandinavia between the 1950s to 1970s. All the chairs are one-off pieces, so have fun trying all of them out to find your perfect seat.
counter chairs are also vintage items
Speakers are invited to book-related events held daily at 8PM
If you plan to visit B&B at night, check out their nightly event schedule.
The events start every 8PM and feature talks by authors, or book club meetings. It is a wonderful way to meet other bookworms and discuss your favorite books over drinks.
Events are held in a space tucked away in the back of the bookshop
We recommend checking the bookshop’s website (http://bookandbeer.com/event/) to keep track of daily events. Bookings are required for all events, so it is best to register your interest early to avoid disappointment. The events are great for meeting people and discovering new titles.
Look around for a book to your liking
2.tagcafe -- pick up drinks and sweets until midnight
There you are near Shimokitazawa station, after a satisfying night out with great food, drinks and company, but still feeling like there's more to explore. Tagcafe is your place to go, only a 90 second walk away from Shimokitazawa station's south exit.
Shimokitazawa is a youthful neighborhood, many of whose cafes do not close until 10 or 11PM. Even among them, tagcafe outdoes the others by staying open all around the clock! This of course makes it a great place for dinner, but also for your second stop of the night.
tagcafe is located about 90 seconds away from the station
The delicious food menu, available 24/7
The varied western-style deli menu is what keeps people coming back. Especially the "little deli" (interpreted by the translator) menu is a popular and reasonable way to experience their offerings. From a list of 9 dishes that includes fried potatoes and shrimp fritters, (¥600 individually) you are able to pick a drink and 3 items, whose prices progressively decrease by ¥100 with every added dish.
A variety of alcoholic beverages like beer are also in stock, for those who want a quick drink, or couldn't quite get their fix at the bar.
"Deli of the day." A limited-quantity 3-piece platter (¥1000)
Tagcafe also offers classic dinner a la carte such as pasta and pizza, and a "dinner set" (¥1,400) including a drink (alcoholic drinks available) and dessert. This is a great place to satisfy yourself with a solid dinner too!
From left to right: fried chicken with youlinji sauce, ham and ginger salad, deep fried gnocchi with tomato sauce
Cake & coffee all around the clock
Another good reason to visit tagcafe is the delicious homemade cakes that are available all day. The cakes are reasonably priced between 500 to 600 yen. If you are not sure what to order, you can never go wrong with a slice of rich chocolate cake (¥500).
We recommend ending the night with tagcafe’s syphon dripped coffee, which complements your cake. The coffee at tagcafe is best enjoyed straight to fully savor the aromas and flavors.
All beans are straight coffees such as Mandheling and Brazil's No.2
tagcafe is a gem of a cafe perfect for every nighttime occasion, whether you are on a date, or drinking with friends. They have wifi too -- which is helpful if you like to work over dinner. tagcafe has a cozy warm feel that warrants a revisit.
The drawings displayed on the wall and blackboard were created by an illustrator
3.Enjoy shopping at the Shimokitazawa Night Market
Only about a minute's walk away from Shimokitazawa station is the Shimoitazawa Night Market. This market is open about once a week, and takes place inside the "Shimokitazawa Cage", a fenced-off rectangular space that took Shimokitazawa by storm in 2016.
Shimokitazawa Cage: multi-purpose venue surrounded by fenced walls
As the area surrounding Shimokitazawa station undergoes renovations, the Shimokitazawa cage was built to vitalize the neighborhood using the vacant plots brought by the area's development. Shimokitazawa Cage doubles as a place to rest during the day, and a multi-purpose venue at night.
An Asian food stall and bar called Long Va Quan stands just outside the tall fences. A glass of beer here will make a great companion to your night at the cage, and the colorful chairs and tables are reminiscent of street food stalls in Vietnam. They blend perfectly with Shimokitazawa’s eclectic vibe.
Long Va Quan serves Asian dishes and beer
rows of colorful tables and chairs inside the "Cage"
Shimokitazawa Night Market: shop for imported knick knacks and second-hand clothing
As mentioned earlier, the market runs roughly once a week with more than 10 stalls offering handicrafts, miscellaneous items and used clothing from around the world. The night market runs from 5PM until 10PM. On this day, 12 stalls were open.
To learn more about this night market whose vibe fits right in with Shimokitazawa, we talked to Ms. Sakuragi, the organizer of this recurring event.
The night market gets busy as passersby stop by
By 8PM, the sun had long set and several passersby could be seen browsing the Shimokitazawa Night Market. Ms. Sakuragi tells us that holding the night market in the Shimokitazawa cage is a great way to make the event more approachable.
“Subculture is deeply rooted in Shimokitazawa’s streets, which is wonderful if you’re familiar with the vibe. Otherwise, you might feel a little nervous walking into a gig or theatre show. We wanted to make Shimokitazawa Cage a big open space where people could casually stop by and linger.” says Ms. Sakuragi.
The Night Market is also based on a similar concept. Various stalls are placed outside the fence facing the streets. Sometimes the night market spills inside Shimokitazawa Cage when many stalls participate.
Long Van Quan is a friendly and welcoming space
An array of shops gather for the night
Let’s take a quick look at some of the Night Market stalls we visited.
「little fatima」sells items from Morocco
This stall sells miscellaneous items from Morocco. The shop owner travels there several times a year to buy goods. On this day, popular items, such as bags and glass tea pots, were almost sold out, and only had a handful of items left. There were many exotic items colorfully decorated with Islamic patterns.
「Chiinii」 sells items from India and henna tattoos
We next visited a stall offering goods from India. The stall owner also draws henna tattoos on the spot. These tattoos use plant-based ink and are considered to be lucky charms in India. The temporary tattoos are also popular in Japan, known as henna art.
The stall owner, Ms Taki, is an expert on henna tattoo painting. She learned the ropes in India for several years. It takes her about 10 to 20 minutes to draw a simple pattern. She displays her work on Instagram. You can follow her art here: (https://www.instagram.com/chisatotaki/).
The stall owner easily draws henna tattoos.
This handicraft shop called "Hitotsubu" sells shibori-dyed turbans.
Silk shibori-dyed turbans （adult size 3800 yen、child size 3000 yen）
Exquisite dying techniques were used to create the soft colorful hues of these turbans.
The silk turbans can be worn comfortably even in the summer, as they absorb moisture and dry away quickly.
The shibori-dyed turbans are soft and stretchy, and they fit your head for long hours without putting pressure on it. The stall will help you choose a color that suits you best and will also adjust the turban to fit your head.
Flower jewelry made with real flower petals
The next stall was an accessory shop called "Aromariage." It sold charming little items such as chopstick rests and resin jewelry embedded with real flowers and petals.
Before the flowers are cast into the resin, they are pressed and dried. Drying the flowers prevents them from fading.
All the pieces are differently shaped as they use real plants -- now how special is that!
There were many other shops selling various items.
Cute and tiny dinosaurs
"&CHAOS" is a dinosaur-themed stall.
Accessories using real gambling chips from the US
"KITTEN" offers accessories made from vintage US goods.
Reasonably priced second-hand clothes
A stall run by a shop called "rebirth" offered cheap second hand clothes, with prices starting at 2000 yen.
There were many other unique stalls, but sadly, we are unable to mention all of them in this article. All of them were worth visiting!
We asked Mr Sakurai to describe the Night Market’s charm.
“The people running the stalls are plainspoken, and you'll enjoy chatting with them. Also, enjoy your time discovering one-off items such as imported sundries, second-hand clothing, or handmade pieces. The Night Market is simply a nice place to wander around and soak up Shimokitazawa’s night vibe.
Shimokitazawa Night Market also serves as the perfect place to meet up with a date, or to swing by with friends after a few drinks.
Do note that Shimokitazawa Cage is a temporary pop-up space that is scheduled to close at the end of the end of September. Visit before it is gone!
Enjoy Shimokitazawa's nightlife as you like
Bookworms can read the night away at Shimokitazawa, shoppers explore the Night Market, while others wind down with a drink at a cafe. Whether you are alone or with company, Shimokitazawa's night scene has something for everyone. Visit Shimokitazawa after 8PM to discover what awaits you.