Shimokita in the 90s
A Look Back at Tokyo's Best Kept Secret
For me, the best decade of my life was definitely the 90’s. The world just seemed to be ‘better’. Bill Clinton was in the White-House, rock’n’roll bands were back in the charts and there was just a general feel good vibe about the world we lived in. The freedom we enjoyed then is now looked back upon as something that - although we took it for granted at the time, is now probably recognized as something we will never see again. The post 9-11 world we now live in is over protective and anything that is vaguely not politically correct attracts attention and cotton wool measures designed to protect us more often than not just spoil our fun more than anything else.
Although now well and truly on the map as a must see area of Tokyo for tourists, Shimokitazawa in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward was Tokyo’s best kept secret in the 1990’s and was a completely different world than other well known places in Tokyo such as Harajuku or Akihabara.
At any given night of the week you could find several budding musicians or other kinds of street performers plying their trade outside the south exit of the old Shimokitazawa station. Street vendors (one of them even selling magic mushrooms at a time when a loophole in the law made it legal) and a large area where people could sit down just outside a convenience store that sold liquor was the best bar in town for those who frequented the area.
Shimokita is still a fantastic place with many great music venues, bars, restaurants and vintage or collectable stores, but will always be a place held special in the hearts for those lucky enough to experience it back in the 90’s.
I was lucky enough to be in Shimokitazawa back in the 90’s and took some photos for you to enjoy. I’m sure there are some familiar faces there for those who were in this special place during a very unique period of history. Enjoy!
About the Author
Mat Buc is a long term Tokyo expat of Tokyo's Shimokitazawa. He has lived and worked closely with the Japanese and foreign community for almost 2 decades and is currently involved in tourism & Japanese antiques.