We all have that one friend whom seems to know the cool, odd little places to visit when he or she is out travelling to a new location and posts his/her pics on their Facebook, Instagram or share on your Whatsapp or Line groups, don’t we? If you happen to be visiting Tokyo soon, we’re hoping to be that friend to you!
These are the places that mostly catered to your shopping, food and picturesque spots, perfect for uploads on your Facebook and are definitely “insta-worthy”.
Kichijoji is quite a popular local alternative to the busier main streets of Shibuya or Shijuku, though it is located in the city of Musashino, in the west of Tokyo, about half an hour from the center by train. Since World War 2, the place has been an entertainment and shopping center and is filled with department stores such as Parco, Isetan and Tokyu and also tons of music venues, bars and restaurants.
What makes this area really popular during certain months is definitely the Inokashira Koen or one of the best parks for Hanami or cherry blossom viewing. On weekdays it is usually quiet and filled with lush greenery to rest your tired eyes though it is particularly crowded especially during the weekends (especially Sundays). On Sundays there are usually entertainers and a local market selling and promoting local handicrafts and arts.
Intending to do more shopping for cool stuff but don’t want to deal with the big crowds? Have you ever heard of Cat Street? This quaint little road that stretches from Harajuku to Shibuya or particularly from Miyashita Park near Meiji Street all the way down to near Shibuya’s Welfare for the Disabled building is another definite treasure!
Also sometimes known as ‘Ura-Harajuku’ or ‘Rear Harajuku’, this cute little stretch of road is littered with cozy cafes, nice big brand boutiques and even much more tiny stores offering the best of the city’s beauty and fashion related products. (Here’s a secret: there are lots of “Japan Only” releases by some of your favourite big brands and “Made in Japan” articles for a lot of the Japanese labels.)
Why Cat Street? Well legend has it that it was either because cats were found everywhere or because the streets were narrow like the forehead of a cat or even because the legendary band ‘Black Cats’ were born on these streets. It is an interesting place to visit, clearly for more reasons that one.
Still want more shopping? Why not try somewhere completely different? Have you heard of Shimokitazawa? Located near Shibuya and Shinjuku, this place is really popular with the ‘cooler’ local crowd because there’s something definitely special about its unique and rustic charm and energy and the town itself is unlike the crowded bases of closeby metropolises.
A short train ride from Shinjuku station will bring you to Tokyo’s popular creative bohemian acclaim, Shimokitazawa, an enclave of rock n roll pubs, small boutique stores carrying carefully curated, vintage items, cute little cafes and of course tons of shops selling used items from Americana themed t shirts, to Americana themed flags all the way to Americana themed vintage records.
Obviously slightly more chaotic as compared to other city centres around Tokyo, Shimokita, as it’s popularly referred to as, is more organic and its unique and sinewy road structures makes it nearly too narrow for cars, which gives the small town its added charm. Fans of the hipster movement trends will definitely enjoy this one!
If you’re a huge seafood fan, you’d probably have Tsukiji in your mandatory ‘to-visit’ list but you’ve heard stories of waking up in the wee hours and paying exorbitant amounts for taxi fares to get yourself to a busy yet wonderful parade of raw fish, big aggressive businessmen and fishmongers carrying 2 feet samurai Katanas to welcome a beautiful day of work!
Well, here’s a good alternative if you want to experience the whole Japanese fish market experience but without the crazy hecticness? Try Ota Wholesale Market located in Shinagawa, almost 30 minutes by bus from JR Shinagawa Station. Compared to its big brother Tsukiji, (they are on the same side of the bay, so trust us when we say the catches are quite comparable), this one is much more low key and you’d unlikely to be elbowed by other excited tourists.
This giant, modern market has much more space to accommodate people. You can choose to do it at 9am and still have a good time! Once you’re tired of the seafood section, there are even the huge vegetables and fruit sections and all of the wholesalers there are generally friendly to all customers.