Finding Treasure in Tokyo: Thrift shopping in Shimokitazawa

Shopping in Tokyo? Now that’s a given. The two just goes hand in hand - and Japan’s capital city has already cemented its reputation as one of the best places in the world for shopping - whether that be for fashion, electronics or merchandise from your favourite band in music or anime. Now, we all know of fashion meccas in Tokyo neighbourhoods like Ginza and Harajuku, but one of my personal favourite place to rummage for a good vintage sale or unique pieces that are hard to find is in Shimokitazawa. Shimokitazawa is the bohemian neighbourhood of Tokyo, and with that, comes the spirit of pre-loved goods, vintage finds, and thrifting! Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures! 

©flickr/ JahnmitJa

It goes without saying that because of those charms, Shimokitazawa is to the young cool Tokyoites what a moth is to a flame. This enclave of Tokyo boasts a plethora of vintage clothing stores, each with its unique style and offerings. From classic Japanese fashion (super kawaii!) to international trends, you can find an extensive range of clothing items, accessories, and footwear spanning several decades. Whether you're searching for a retro dress, a sleek leather jacket, or a funky pair of vintage sneakers, these stores have stylish pieces that truly fits anyone. 

Thrifting in Shimokitazawa allows you to explore and experiment with various fashion eras. The neighbourhood's thrift shops often showcase styles inspired by the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, enabling you to curate a one-of-a-kind wardrobe that reflects your individuality. When I say this neighbourhood is known for thrift shop - let me tell you, you definitely should allocate a few good hefty hours here because you can zigzag through a maze of vintage stores up and down the streets. Whether you're a fan of bohemian flair, punk aesthetics, or glamorous retro chic, Shimokitazawa's vintage stores offer endless possibilities to express your personal style.

©flickr/ Real Estate Japan

Plus as a bonus, thrifting aligns with the principles of sustainable fashion, promoting the reuse and recycling of clothing. As much as we love Uniqlo - the well-known style forward Japanese brand, Shimokitazawa's thrift shops provide an environmentally conscious alternative to fast fashion. By opting for pre-loved items, you contribute to reducing waste and minimising the environmental impact of the fashion industry. As a bonus, the joy of discovering unique pieces and breathing new life into them adds an extra layer of satisfaction to your shopping experience. The amount of times I went back to visit friends and family and they would ask me “where did you get that from?” and I said “oh, this piece? It’s from Tokyo” is truly fun to own as a badge of honour. 

©iStock/ LewisTsePuiLung

For me, one of the most exciting aspects of thrifting in Shimokitazawa is the element of surprise. The neighbourhood's vintage stores are brimming with hidden gems and unexpected finds. It's not uncommon to stumble upon rare designer pieces, iconic band t-shirts, or vintage accessories that add a distinctive touch to your wardrobe. Exploring the racks and shelves of these stores is like embarking on a treasure hunt, where the thrill of discovery is part of the allure. If I go into a Burberry store in Otomesando, I will most likely know what to expect in stores - the collection of that season. But when unique Burberry pieces and their iconic trenchcoats in various styles are dotted everywhere, well, it adds to the unexpectedness of what you can find. 

Thrifting in Shimokitazawa goes beyond the act of shopping. It fosters a sense of community and self-expression. The neighbourhood's thrift culture attracts a diverse mix of individuals who share a passion for fashion, creativity, and individuality. Just sit out on a cafe in the neighbourhood and be inspired by people watching yourself. Whether you're a local resident, a Tokyoite, or a curious traveller, engaging in the thrifting culture allows you to connect with like-minded individuals, share style tips, and immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Shimokitazawa. Beat that, salarymen suit and tie mass of Tokyo!

©iStock/ LewisTsePuiLung

As you roam around this free-spirited neighbourhood, it can feel overwhelm with just how many second-hand and thrift stores there are. I’m not kidding you when I say there will be at least one every 500 metres. All of them will have their own unique specialities, but from my multiple shopping trips through the times I’ve been living in Tokyo, here are some stores in Shimokitazawa not to miss out on:

Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, 世田谷区Kitazawa, 2 Chome−14-16

Every second hand clothing piece is priced at ¥700 - so you can go as crazy as you want here without breaking the bank. 

Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−25−12 リサビル 1F

This store is quite well-known, with great friendly service. If you can, make sure to be here the last Saturday of every month - as it’s half-price day here!

Address: 5 Chome-32-5 Daizawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0032, Japan

Those who love the 90s and the best of grunge, Nirvana, and what the 90s in America encapsulates - look no further than this store. 

Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−26−15 1F・2F 井上ビル 3階

A top-class selection of American clothing with a wide range of second-hand pieces.

Address: 2 Chome-25-8 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031, Japan

The prices here can be on the higher end, but there are pieces as low as ¥600, including local designers too.

Address: 5 Chome-6-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031, Japan

This is a store that I love as someone who lives in Tokyo, otherwise, it may be a bit tricky to fly out with these antiques! Nevertheless, if you can ship it back, then there’s a plethora of great furniture and home goods here. 


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