Shimokitazawa (下北沢) has been gaining popularity as a hip and trendy neighborhood. With an abundance of shops and cafes, it is very easy to see why this suburb in Setagaya-ku (世田谷区) is being called as the newest must-visit place in Tokyo. It is also popular among the Japanese youth and is one of the top places they want to live.
Easily accessible from Shibuya (渋谷), the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa is filled with a variety of cafes which people can visit. There is so much to choose from that it may be a little overwhelming to plan which ones you want to visit. In this article, I write about my Shimokitazawa cafe recommendations. So grab a pen and paper and let’s start planning your cafe-hopping itinerary!
RAINBOW CAFE & WINE DINING is one of the popular trendy cafes in Shimokitazawa. With their diverse menu and drinks, this place is perfect for brunch or a groovy night out.
This cafe’s cream puffs or choux creams have become very popular because they look like Totoro from the Studio Ghibli animated film, My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ). Their choux creams come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate cream, peach cream, custard and cream, and matcha cream just to name a few.
Around the cafe, you will also see various Totoro merchandise on display. Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory is a must-visit for Studio Ghibli fans!
Inside this curious shop, you will see well-preserved specimens of real otters, zebras, butterflies, and other animals. There is a small area inside where guests can dine. DARWIN ROOM can be a little peculiar to some, but it is definitely another must-visit.
— kaeru geko (@kaerugeko) 2017年7月1日
Neighborhood and Coffee by Starbucks is a redesigned Starbucks Reserve cafe. All the amenities that you see in other Starbucks branches are available here, like free Wi-Fi and electric sockets. What separates this particular branch from the others is the design of the place. Its matte black and dark mahogany entrance give off a classy vibe to the place.
VILLAGE VANGUARD is known as a quirky shop where you can find loads of unique things. What a lot of people are not aware of is that it has a burger joint in Shimokitazawa. Their fast food-style burgers have gained quite the following, so to understand the hype surrounding those burgers, visit VILLAGE VANGUARD DINER in Shimokitazawa!
Sunday Brunch is very popular, especially among women. The cafe can actually get quite full, so if you are planning on having a meal here, better make sure that you visit during non-peak hours!
The place is very simple and clean. Inside, the ceilings are high and the lighting is refreshing.
Aside from food cafes, Shimokitazawa also has a decent offering of animal cafes. There is not a lot compared to other places, but for the animal lovers out there, these are good enough.
Usagi no Ehon, which translates to “picture book of rabbits,” is the first animal cafe on this list. Visitors can pet, feed, and play with the rabbits for a corresponding fee. Their schedule can be a little irregular, so make sure to check out their website before visiting.
Aside from the real rabbits, this cafe is also filled with picture books that feature rabbits. Be sure to check those books out, too!
Usagi cafe Ohisama is the second animal cafe on this list. Compared to other animal cafes that only serve drinks and snacks, Usagi cafe Ohisama serves full meals and drinks. But like other animal cafes, you have to pay a fee to get to play with the rabbits. There are about 20 rabbits in this cafe, with breeds such as the Holland Lop, Netherland Dwarf, and Lionhead.
For a more pleasant experience, you can book reservations. Just go and visit their website for more details.
Cateriam cat cafe is the third and last animal cafe on this list. If you are still craving the company of our little furry friends and rabbits were not enough, then you have to visit this cat cafe. It is usually packed, so I guess right timing and luck will help you out.
When you enter, they will ask you how long you will be staying. After paying the fee, you can immediately enter the comfortable and spacious lounge area and start playing with the resident cats.
cafe Stay Happy is a quaint travel cafe in Shimokitazawa. This is another cafe with hammocks inside. Its bohemian-inspired interior is a sight for sore eyes. Their menu is reasonably priced, with all of their food being organic, with vegan and vegetarian choices. cafe Stay Happy is another perfect place for brunch and afternoon tea.
『えんえん 其の弐』上映会場だったトリウッドさんから下北沢駅に向かったらすぐ。右手。 pic.twitter.com/AbCuqMnUfG
— 明逸人 8月はあっちこっち佐藤さん (@myou_hayato) 2016年8月24日
MOLDIVE is one of the longest-running cafes in Shimokitazawa. They opened their doors in March 1984. MOLDIVE is a cafe that serves a wide range of coffee from all over the world. All the drinks in MOLDIVE are handcrafted with care, so customers can expect nothing but the best coffee.
Aside from coffee, you can also buy other coffee-related instruments here. MOLDIVE is a must-visit place for every coffee lover.
CAFÉ TROIS CHAMBRES is a kissaten (喫茶店), or an old traditional Japanese cafe. If you are curious to see what a kissaten looks like, then this place is the perfect example. You can sit at the wooden counter and enjoy a drink with your companions. The cafe’s interiors are quite beautiful, too.
pebble is another cafe you can go to if you are looking for breakfast. Their coffee and sandwiches are the perfect way to start your day.
LITTLE SOUL CAFE opened in Shimokitazawa in 1999. Since then, the cafe has always aimed to provide a space where people can relax while drinking and listening to soulful music. This cafe has been well known for attracting overseas artists and their collection of records have also attracted record buyers from all over the world.
Buying coffee can get expensive, especially in a city like Tokyo. But at BOOKENDS COFFEE SERVICE, they believe that getting you a cup of your favorite coffee should not cost you much. This cafe places an emphasis on a relaxing coffee experience with affordable coffees and a simple place to stay at.
Reading books and drinking coffee have always been a perfect combination. Here at Brown’s Books & Cafe, you can get lost in your own little world with books and coffee. Their menu is quite simple and cheap. You can get drinks and food starting at 500 yen, and never going over that.
— 筋金珈琲焙煎所 (@CAFEUSE) May 19, 2017
Sujigane Coffee Baisenjo is a popular place in Shimokitazawa where you can buy freshly roasted coffee. There are also signs outside that ward off smokers, gadgets, young children, and people looking for espresso and cappuccino. This cafe is really for coffee purists.
This cafe used to be called cafe use but has recently changed its name.
If you are somehow looking for a taste of Melbourne, Australia in Japan, then you better visit FRANKIE MELBOURNE ESPRESSO. This coffee shop uses beans from Allpress Espresso. They offer a variety of Melbourne coffees such as Piccolo and flat white, and also Italian espressos such as macchiato and cappuccino. You will also find Australian favorites such as Anzac biscuits, lemon slice, and banana bread. There are also non-caffeinated drinks like fruit juices for those who prefer less caffeine in the morning.
FRANKIE MELBOURNE ESPRESSO is a wonderful East-meets-West classic and modern cafe where people can relax.
This place is not a cafe per se, it is more of a coffee stand. Nevertheless, this place is too cute for it not to be included on this list!
ON THE WAY gives you what you want – coffee and cupcakes for the on-the-go person. If you have a busy day ahead of you and only want to rest for awhile, then ON THE WAY is your go-to place.
Shimokita ka dokka no cafe is a cafe that is perfect despite its imperfections. The interior looks very raw and paired with the wonderful choice of music they play, you will definitely have an enjoyable stay in this cafe.
When translated, “shimokita ka dokka no cafe” means “a cafe somewhere in Shimokita.” Just like all the cafes in Shimokitazawa, this one also has a very unique personality that would make you not forget about it.
kate coffee is a very photogenic cafe located on the second floor of a corner building. Its location is perfect for photographs because a lot of natural light shines through the windows. The owners are also very warm and welcoming. Coming to this place feels like you are coming back home!
kate coffee has an extensive menu, with curry and pasta as some of the most famous items. They also offer a variety of drinks, including their specialty kate blend coffee, which is available in mild, light, and bitter.
If you do not pay attention, you might miss Bear Pond Espresso. Based on its undecorated, white exterior, you would not think that this is the most famous coffee shop in Shimokitazawa – but it is. When you enter, you will see the espresso machine that Katsuyuki “Katsu” Tanaka (田中勝幸) uses to make the Angel Stain, an espresso that expresses Katsuyuki’s love and philosophy for the brew.
BALLON D’ESSAI is French for “trial balloon.” This cafe’s concept is that when customers come and visit, hopefully, they can find what they are looking for from a hot air balloon perspective.
Aside from being a cafe, it is also a place where art lovers can interact. The harmony of coffee and art makes for a perfect blend of artistic expression.
mois cafe can be found at an old, traditional Japanese house located in the backstreets of Shimokitazawa. On a quiet street surrounded by trees, this cafe is a perfect date spot. They offer a wide variety of drinks from coffee and tea, to beer and wine. Their lunch menu also shuffles regularly.
Rainbow SOKO 3 is a five-story “creative warehouse” owned by rental space operator, Rainbow SOKO. Each floor offers different interesting things such as booths, galleries, and exhibitions. Here, you can find THE PLASTER’S CAFE, a coffee stand that sells perfectly brewed coffee.
Just like how its name says, Waffle Cafe ORANG is a place where you can get your daily waffle fix. This place offers waffles in different ways. You can taste their sweet or savory waffles. With the aroma of waffles and syrup filling the place, this charming cafe can be the perfect spot for you to start your day.
COFFEA EXLIBRIS is the place for people who love or want to appreciate specialty coffee. Here, you will learn more about single-origin coffees, which are displayed in a way that people can appreciate their depth and variety.
Another interesting cafe in Shimokitazawa is PANNYA CAFE CURRY. The Japanese absolutely love curry. If you love this dish as much as they do, then you definitely have to eat here!
This clean and cozy ten-seater cafe is said to have the best curry dishes in Tokyo. This place is really popular and it can get a little busy sometimes, but it is definitely worth the wait.
And last on this list is Shimokita Chaen Ooyama, a Japanese tea and shaved ice cafe. They serve shaved ice all throughout the year so you can enjoy a cold delicious treat regardless of the weather and season.
Shimokitazawa is really full of cafes and there are still a lot more that are not included on this list. It is almost like you can spend days in this neighborhood but still be unable to fully explore what it has to offer. In Shimokitazawa, it is best to take it slow and enjoy the experience. You do not necessarily have to go to all of the cafes in one day. Have fun with your cafe-hopping adventure!