Here’s another post of me trying to catch up with my past adventure days. This one took place on October 5th and was one of the bigger ones. On this day I went to two different places. One was in Shin-Okubo where the famous Korea Town is and the other was to Shimokitazawa a.k.a Shimokita. Shimokita is a well known hangout space for the “younger” crowd of people in their twenties and is full of winding roads and expensive vintage thrift shops.
Part 1: Shin-Okubo Korea Town
To get to Shin-Okubo I first took the train from Fujimino to Ikebukuro and then from Ikebukuro I think I hopped on the JR Yamamote line, which is the one that just goes in a loop. I actually don’t remember too well about how I got there because I got so lost at the train station to get to Shimokita that all aspects relating to transportation that day has become a blur.
Once I got on the Yamanote line it was easy to get to Shin-Okubo. Right when I got there I could see signs written in Korean and it was great. This was one of the places on my Japan bucket list and I was so happy to finally get to go. I didn’t notice it but according to my friend the smell of kimchi coming from here is so strong that people can smell it even a few stops on the train before and after.
As expected, it was a kpop fan’s dream. So many shops that had different idol goods! I was pretty good and didn’t buy too many things, but I definitely couldn’t leave without picking up at least a few things.
After walking in and out of multiple stores and convincing myself not to buy anything over 1000 yen ($10), I headed back to the station to move onto the next place. I would want to come back here with friends some day so that we can eat some Korean food 😀
Part 2: Shimokitazawa
Getting to Shimokitazawa was wayyyy more difficult. It was such an ordeal. I got lost in the train station at Shibuya and went in circles multiple times. I was super stressed out and I want to forget that part so I won’t rehash the memories for this post sorry!
I’ll just skip the getting lost in the train station part and skip to getting lost in Shimokitazawa. What greeted me when I arrived had me very confused. There was so much construction going on that you couldn’t really see anything. I got out of the train station and it looked like some random backstreet neighborhood with not many shops. When I exited the train station I took a gamble and turned left. As usual, I found out later that I took a gamble and lost since I went the exact opposite way to where I wanted to be.
I had no idea where I was and didn’t know any landmarks to Google map so I just followed some young looking people straight to no where. Once I realized that I turned around. Even though I wanted to be picky and wait until I got to the main area to choose somewhere to eat, since I was hungry and tired and stressed out I just went into the nearest cafe.
It was super hipster-ish and I couldn’t really read the menu so I just chose the “kanji-I-couldn’t-read” hamburg dish. It ended up being a tofu hamburg. Surprisingly I really liked the food. It was so good that I would actually want to go back just to eat the same thing again. It was so much food and I also ordered a coffee so by the end I was so full that I could barely move. Ah, even thinking about that food again while writing this post is bringing up good memories. I would say that that lunch was the best part of my trip that day I think.
After I was recharged from lunch I headed back towards the same direction that I came from and ended up at the fork in the road where I made the wrong choice earlier. I don’t know how I missed it, but literally everything that I was looking for was on that street.
It had all of the cute and artsy cafes that I read about and also the fancy thrift stores. The picture above was from one of their thrift shop warehouses that housed different stores. It was all super expensive though so I just quickly looked around and then headed on my way.
Walking around I could definitely see the appeal for young people. The shops were lining the side streets and were all creatively decorated. I actually really liked it and would want to come here more often to try different cafes, but it is too far from home to be just a casual afternoon time killer.
I actually didn’t realize it until I got home and looked at my pictures, but it was a really visually appealing area. They had this huge pepsi can in a vending machine area. Shimokita is also well known for the artwork that is painted on shop shutters.
I also found a legit thrift shop that wasn’t just expensive “vintage” items. Almost all the shops I went into sold the exact same things. Champion sweatshirts at $50 a piece. I mean it is nice but I always thought the appeal of vintage clothing was that you would be unique. Anyways, whatever floats their boats. The shop that I found is actually a store that does buying so there were a ton of people with big bags of clothing selling their things.
It is called New York Joe exchange and is probably my new favorite thrift shop, even though it is not as accessible compared to the Mode-Off that is 10 minutes away from my house. They had a lot of stylish clothes at pretty good prices, unlike the other thrift shops. I managed to limit myself to just buying one sweatshirt.
At this point I was already starting to drag from the long and stressful day so I decided to head home. Luckily since I did all my getting lost on the way there, getting home wasn’t as bad. It was a pretty long train ride home so on that day I took my first nap on the train. It was pretty gee~
As for the damage I did, it was fairly extensive mostly due to the high cost to pay for the train as well as the black cardigan I bought. It was at one of the last stores that I stopped at before leaving that I did that bad thing. I can’t believe I did it but I did and now I better make sure I use it for the next 5 years.
The black sweatshirt is the one I bought at the thrift shop. I usually only buy sweatshirts if it has a soft material and this one was really scratchy, but I fell in love with the message on the front so I bought it. It was only about 1300 yen or $13 so I was especially happy with it.
From Korea Town I just picked up a BTS medium file folder and a Kakao Talk post card. Before I came to Japan I was really obsessed with Kakao Talk and I wanted to go to Korea to a store. They didn’t have a Kakao Talk store but they did have some items so I let myself get that postcard.
Lastly I bought some Halloween Gaufrettes for my host family because I thought it was cute and just wanted to get something for them while I was out having a “me” day.
This was a pretty long post for a pretty long and traumatic but fun Wednesday adventure that I had. Those were both places that I would want to go again in the future. Preferably with friends but I also wouldn’t mind going by myself again.
If you read this all, thank you!
Until the next post,