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Shimokitazawa – hip area in Tokyo

Shimokitazawa – hip area in Tokyo

The bike trip to Suginami animation museum in Tokyo did fill our eyes with wonder, but our stomachs were still empty and had been rumbling.

To go for dinner, we cycled down to Shimokitazawa, a popular district for a young and alternative Japanese crowd.

Shimokitazawa features a lot of second hand fashion, unique vintage stores, music shops and cafés lining small streets. A trendy and fashion conscious area, but more of a laid back place than Harajuku, located close to where we live, in Setagaya.

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The stores are super hip and have crazy displays.

Vintage anime mini-toy-shop.

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A to-die-for music store.

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The hairdresser had Spiderman guarding the entrance.

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And as all of Tokyo, Shimokitazawa was getting ready for Christmas these days.

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Pet shops. The strangest Japanese need, to pet animals in a café like setting. This one, in contrast to the more popular dog and cat shops, served bunnies.

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Shimokitazawa is the place to get dressed. Coolest of fashion trends and designer stuff for cheap, hanging in neatly selected used clothes shops.

Tomek just got himself one-of-a-kind pants (made in Japan) for the colder season. I didn’t leave empty handed either. My head proudly supports a bunny ear shaped furry hat from today on. The type you can only get away with in Tokyo. My store tip for men: Bazzstore (open till 22:00).

The formidable thing about Japan is that you don’t have to look hard to find very cool outfits for men. Which is why Tomek walked into that store and bought this window outfit. Jacket, vest, shirt and bow tie. Love it!

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This second hand store sells very avantgarde clothes, imported from the States. A lot of it is very unique, if not close to unwearable but not in the same great shape as Japanese second hand clothes. I spotted stains and tears on garments, and the shoes looked very worn out.

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Before our main dinner, Lawson lured us in. We cannot resist conbinis, the sophisticated Japanese version of a convenience store. Call it a prelude supper, we had salmon cheese sandwich, fresh pineapple (Dole calls itself Beauty Factory and sells well), a hot Relax jasmin tea and an Apfelstrudel dessert which looked like concocted by a Michelin star chef and tasted fantastic.

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Shimokitazawa has some popular seafood restaurants which have beautiful traditional Japanese images and outer façades. Many of the shop shutters are hand painted with typical Japanese images.

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Shimokitazawa offers plenty of fantastic dining opportunities but sometimes it can go wrong.

Let me digress and tell you my psychologically most disturbing restaurant experience in Tokyo – when we were invited to dinner at a seafood izakaya and I was shocked to see that what I had determined to be my dinner was moving also. They served us kind of an oyster half shell looking animal.

Things got disturbing when the living shell fish was put on a grill and as the heat from the flame increased, it began to squirm and wiggle until it met its demise, cooked alive.

I am still shocked by the sight that stuck to my mind and there is no way to remove the graphic images of the dying shell fish but I have learned and now know how to check before I go in.

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Pasta places are fantastic and you will not be served living creatures (most likely). Haunted by the dying shell fish images when looking at fish izakayas, we finally settled for Italian inspired Spajiro in Shimokitazawa.

Location: 14-13 Kitazawa 2-chome, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo /www.spajiro.com/ Expenses: Dinner which consisted of two main meals was well priced, we paid around 2500 yen.

The place was full but we were the last ones leaving, so I took a picture of the cool kitchen counter. If you can see it steaming, the cooks stirring, tossing the pasta from their woks, the mouthwatering smells that evaporate into the restaurant air, a good meal will await.

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On our table. Parmesan cheese,  sesame seeds, dried garlic, chilli powder, salt and pepper.

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A special service of the restaurant, the kids get served what they deserve.

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After adjusting our super adult sized bibs, Tomek and I decided to have a dinner battle. The winner was the one with less oily stains on the bib.

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I was going into the game with salmon vegetable spaghetti (which turned out to include a slice of bacon – I do know how to avoid living creatures but ordering from a Japanese menu does provide the occasional meat surprise, when we dine on our own).

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Tomek was competing with mushroom shrimp pasta.

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We completely finished our pasta bowls – the food was great and did not spare the bibs. The winner was… well, what can I say…  it looks like I have been defeated by Mr Immaculate. All I can say in my defence is that I had to squeeze a lemon over my dish and that unfortunately there are no more excuses I could think of.

Tokyo, Japan

Tomorrow, I will tell you how I came to see the rabbit on the moon, after a very Japanese, a bit rabbit-y meal.rabbit

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