A to Wa of Japan: Week 13

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with さ (sa) and we looked at Sakura (桜). This week we are looking at things beginning with し (shi). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with suggestions this week:

Hideki suggested Shibuya (渋谷 / a part of Tokyo); Japan Australia suggested Shikoku (四国 / one of Japan’s four main islands), Shiga (滋賀 / a prefecture in Kansai), Shinto (神道 / a religion in indigenous faith in Japan), and Shinjuku (新宿 / a part of Tokyo); Zooming Japan suggested Shizuoka (静岡 / a city and prefecture in central Japan), Shirahama (白浜 / in Wakayama Prefecture), Shibata Castle (新発田城 / in Niigata), and the Shimokita Peninsula (下北半島 / the remote northeastern cape of the island of Honshu); Jay Dee suggested Shirakawa-go (白川郷 / a village in Gifu), Shibuya, Shizuoka, shinigami (死神 / gods that invite humans towards death), shimbun (新聞 / newspaper), and Shinto; and Sophienokatana suggested Shikoku.

Wonderful suggestions as always – it seems like there are lots of possibilities for ‘shi’. I’ve written about some of these topics on quite a few occasions, so I’m going to try to write about a place I haven’t mentioned much before today. Bizarrely, just as I was about to publish this post, furo-chan suggested this very topic…

Shimokitazawa (下北沢)


(Image source)

Shimokitazawa, or ‘Shimokita’, is an area of Tokyo I wish I could have explored in more depth, although I have been there once. It’s a very funky part of town, full of vintage shops, cool-looking people, and interesting bars and cafes, with a much more laid-back vibe than Harajuku (which is awesome, but can get a bit hectic).


Shop in Shimokitazawa

(Image source)

Located in Setagaya-ku, Shimokitazawa is easily accessed from the Keio Inokashira line or Odakyu line from Shibuya or Shinjuku – just get off at Shimokitazawa Station. As you can see on the map below, Shimokitazawa is on the western side of Tokyo.

Tokyo train map showing Shimokitazawa

The area is a winding mass of narrow streets and curious independent shops, which generally attracts a crowd of students and artists, and less tourists than you usually find in Harajuku. It’s also popular with music-lovers, as there are a number of small live music venues there, as well as the historic Honda Gekijo (本多劇場) theatre building, and second-hand music shops.

Honda Gekijo

Honda Gekijo

(Image source)

If I was in my 20s and lived in Tokyo, I would absolutely want to live in Shimokitazawa! In the short time I spent there a few years ago I found lots of second-hand clothes shops and could have spent a fortune on unique clothes and accessories. It seems like a very cool place to be – perhaps similar to Notting Hill in London, if Camden is like Harajuku.

As with all areas in Tokyo, Shimokitazawa has its own unique atmosphere, and its own local festivals, including the Shimokitazawa Theater Festival in February, Kitazawa Music Festival in July, the Tengu-matsuri in January/February, and  the Mikoshi-matsuri (portable shrine festival) in September.

Read more about Shimokitazawa:

JNTO – Shimokitazawa Area

Culture Japan – Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa at night

Shimokitazawa at night

(Image source)

Apologies for the slightly shorter post this week – there’s a lot going on now that I’m in the middle of planning my move to Bristol, but I didn’t want to not post at all. Whilst I’m moving there may be a week or two when I can’t post as usual, depending on what Internet access I have (and what time I have), but I will keep posting as much as I can!


Next week we’ll start with す (su), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with す. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese (for example, you can’t suggest ‘summer’ for ‘su’, because ‘summer’ in Japanese is ‘natsu’, but you could suggest ‘Suzuki’, the Japanese company.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

14 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 13

  1. Shimokitazawa, nice choice, Ali.

    Before I forgot again (missed 2 weeks..Ha ha ha), I suggest words start with す。
    Sushi(寿司), Sugamo(巣鴨 / famous place where looks like Harajuku for old person, especially ladies), Sumo(相撲), Suzuki(鈴木/ My family name!), Suzuki Seijyun(鈴木清順/ one of famous Japanese film directors)


  2. I suppose we should get the obvious suggestions out of the way: Sushi, SuICa, Sukiyaki, Sugoi…

    How about…
    Susabi 😉

    That’s all I can think of for now! 😀


  3. I can’t say that I’ve ever visited Shimokitazawa. I’ll have to fix that the next time I’m back in Tokyo. A few suggestions for next week are Sumo, Sunomata Castle, Sukiyaki, Sukiya, and Sushi.


  4. Too many good ideas already taken. Of course sushi, sumo, Sukiya, sukiyaki. What else could I add? Suupaa (supermarket), suutsu (suit), Subaru, Suzuki. How about Suzuki Ichiro?


  5. Haven’t spent only about two weeks total in the Tokyo area, I had never heard of Shimokitazawa–and it’s on my list next time I need to find a place to hang out there! Harajuku was fun the first time I visited Tokyo, but I don’t feel much of a need to go back to the hustle and bustle. In contrast, this looks like a place that would be a more comfortable scene for regular visitors.

    As for す, I second the Susanoo suggestion, but as a San’in region representative I’m more than a little biased!


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