Shimokitazawa remains resiliently cool as we move into the second year of the pandemic. While this youthful town’s vibrant music scene cannot shine as brightly during the state of emergency, there is still a lot going on. Theatre festivals, outdoor markets and seasonal events are all happening soon.
Additionally, several new restaurants have opened recently, which is bittersweet, as it reminds of the shops that might have closed down due to the hardships of running a business during this time, but it also gives a chance for new shops to try to make their mark on Shimokita.
As we are all used to doing, be sure to check for the latest information before visiting these restaurants, events and galleries, as restrictions are constantly changing. Take the appropriate precautions and try and enjoy what Shimokita has to offer as winter turns to spring.
Shimokitazawa Cheese Factory
Have you ever visited an ice cream shop only to be disappointed that they didn’t offer stinky blue cheese as a topping? Me either. However, after reading about Shimokitazawa Cheese Factory’s gorgonzola cheese soft serve ice cream with honey as a topping, I am certainly curious enough to try it. This small restaurant also offers loads of other cheesy dishes including pastas, curry, and omurice. Be sure to stop by when you are craving something cheesy.
When: 11:00–20:00 (hours subject to change)
Pho’Minh, which has been operating in Vietnam since 1947, has opened its first Japanese location in Shimokitazawa. The spacious second-floor location serves pho and Vietnamese coffee, meat pies, banh mi and some desserts too.
When: 11:00–23:00 (closes at 20:00 during state of emergency)
Ko Sui Spice Curry
Ko Sui Spice Curry is a new curry shop operating out of Bar and Cafe Duke Saloon on Friday, Saturday and Sundays at lunch time from 11:30–16:00. Of course, Shimokitazawa is a competitive location in regards to curry, but Ko Sui seems to be gaining popularity, and while I haven’t yet been myself, I am looking forward to trying it out soon. If you are hesitant to dine-in, you can also swing by and grab a take-out meal.
When: Fri–Sun | 11:30–16:00
Kabuto Shimokita is a new casual pasta restaurant and bar on the east side of the station. This restaurant has modern decor and serves several creative pasta dishes. Reviews seem to rave about the cotton candy-topped bolognese spaghetti, so I won’t knock it till I try it. Maybe I will even try the smoked salmon and cream cheese macaron for dessert. It also looks like they are selling their own craft beer. It is always good to see new and creative restaurants pop-up in the area.
When: Weekday lunch 11:00–15:30 (15:00) | Weekday dinner 16:30–20:00 (19:00) | Sat, Sun & national holidays 12:00–20:00 (19:00)
Shimokitazawa is famous for having a ton of venues where you can find both new bands and masters of niche genres. The venues here have teamed up with guitar effects maker Blackberry JAM to release a series of guitar effects pedals called Kitazawa Effector. The pedals feature graphics that showcase each venues’ style. This is one of the coolest collaborations I have seen in a while; if you are a guitar player, or have friends who play, please check out and support this great endeavour that will help Shimokita’s live houses stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic.
There will be an outdoor market for used clothes and some other knick-knacks held at an empty lot on the north east side of Shimokitazawa station. This is a great chance to find some new vintage shops in a comfortable outdoor environment.
When: Until Feb 28 | 12:00–20:00
Bonus Track Valentine’s Day Events
Bonus Track, located half-way between Shimokitazawa and Setagaya Daita will be holding two smaller scale Valentine’s Day events. The first is a collaboration event between Ho Chi Min based multinational creative team, rice, and Vietnamese bean to bar chocolate producer MAROU. They will be selling posters, paper crafts, magazines, and of course, chocolate.
The second event is the New Year Romantic Market which is a collection of Taiwan based shops that will be selling a huge variety of food and goods. Both events are held at the same time, so Bonus Track is sure to be an exciting place to be on Valentine’s Day weekend.
When: Feb 13–14 | 11:00–17:00
Gallery Hana holds a solo exhibition for photographer Minami Onodera’s A Window to Anywhere. His work focuses on black and white photography and 25 new works will be displayed at the exhibition.
When: Feb 18–23 | 11:30–19:00 (closes at 18:00 on Feb 23)
Shimokitazawa Theatre Festival
Shimokitazawa Theatre festival looks to be going ahead this year after having to cancel last year’s festival. The site warns of changes to the program and notifies attendees to check for information about the festival at the participating theatres. As it stands, 10 theatres will be taking part in the festival with about 20 groups performing.
When: Until Feb 28 | Check online schedule for times
Where: Various locations
Umegaoka Plum Festival
The Umegaoka Plum Festival at Hanegi Park is not exactly in Shimokitazawa, but it can be accessed from Shimokitazawa in 5 minutes by train or 15 minutes on foot. The festival this year is unfortunately limited to the small garden market, but the flowers will still be beautiful and are already blooming. Try to avoid crowding and make sure to follow the guidelines displayed in the park.
When: Until Mar 1