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Just 7 minutes west of Shinjuku, or 3 minutes west of Shibuya lies one of Tokyo’s coolest districts. Shimokitazawa is a tiny, crowded network of alleys and passageways surrounding the station of the same name, and is much loved by trendy Tokyoites who reject glitz, and aim instead for a somewhat more arty, alternative lifestyle. During the day there is shopping for fashion and second-hand clothes. In the evening the focus is on drinking in Izakayas (Japanese pub-restaurants, where you nibble on skewered chicken and sushi while gradually becoming inebriated). This can be followed by a trip to a karaoke box or a jazz bar. The more culturally inclined should check out one of the live music or stage theatre venues. The sheer number of eating and drinking places that are squashed into a tiny area is incredible – hundreds of bars and restaurants are within a couple of hundred meters of station – more than can be found in the whole of many British cities.
One of the nicest attributes of Shimokita (as it’s affectionately known by its aficionados) is the 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 get a car down. You’d better be quick though – plans are underway to build a highway and turn Shimokita into a clone megalopolis with high-rise office towers indistinguishable from those in heaps of other districts all around Tokyo.
Access: Odakyu line from Shinjuku Station or Keio Inokashira line from Shibuya Station.
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