Shimo-kitazawa Area


Looking for a funky and inexpensive evening of bar hopping and live music? Shimo-kitazawa is my favorite place to find decent food, eccentric bars, excellent craft beer, and awesome music in places so small, you’ll feel like you’re part of the performance

After wandering around looking into all the fun shops – this is an especially good area to find primo quality secondhand Japanese fashion and kimonos – we’ll be ready for some food-bevs and entertainment. There are sidewalk signs pointing the way up to bars and eateries on the upper floors along all the streets and alleys.

Unlike the tiny bars in Shinjuku’s Golden Gai, in Shimo-kita the places without live music usually don’t have a cover charge. Plus, they’re more relaxed about welcoming non-Japanese as well as locals. It’s unlikely you’ll find anyone who speaks English, but it’s not really necessary – eating, drinking & merrymaking are a universal language.

The Apollo is a tiny basement bar serves up live jazz most nights of the week. The music is always excellent, and because the place is so small (seats about 15), you really get up close and personal with the musicians! Cover charge is only around $15 plus a drink.
As you walk through the streets, it’s never a mistake to try little restaurants that strike your fancy, like this open-air yakitori (skewered chicken) café.
And we can’t leave without checking out the latest wild offerings at Village Vanguard. It’s stuffed to the rafters with prank gifts, I-need-that items, books, magazines, and more.
The little backstreets of Shimo-kitazawa always make me feel like I’m in Real Japan, far from the tourist centers, mingling with people who have lived there all their lives.


Click here to explore more

Jonelle Patrick is the author of five novels set in Japan

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Know someone who’s planning a trip to Japan? Or maybe you’d just like to find more fun stuff spicing up your email from time to time?

Subscribe to The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, and I’ll send you all the hidden treasures, travel hacks and best of the best, the minute I post them!

It’s easy: Scroll down to the subscribe button, enter your email, and push the button. You can unsubscribe at any time, of course, and I promise: no ads and no sharing of your information EVER.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s