Varies per item; from less than ¥1,000 to as high as hundreds of thousands of yen
- 4 Chome-29 Koenjiminami, Suginami, Tokyo
- Distance from Station:
- Area starts 2 minutes south of JR Koenji Station
- Most staff likely speak Japanese only, though some places may also handle English communication
KOENJI SOUTHEAST VINTAGE CLOTHING AREA
One-of-a-kind Finds Scattered About
Of course Koenji is well-known by now as the vintage clothing mecca of Tokyo, yet the southeast area of used and vintage clothing seems to be more hidden and less frequented than other areas of the neighborhood, unless you are one of those in-the-know. While the west side offers more organization in the way that all the clothing shops are lined up down Pal Street, Etoile Dori Street, and Look Street, shops on the east side are scattered about everywhere south of Koenji Station and east of the Konan Dori Street. A handful of shops are clustered in the area just south of Hikawa Shrine (Green Light, Hiraru, Laugh, Shinto, etc.) and more open up on the street heading south from there (Whistler, Chart, Gasoline, S.O, Re’all, Fifty-Fifty), and there are many more scattered about the area. It’s a great area to go walking around anyway because here you can find truly unique self-owned vintage clothing shops and get some real bargains on rare finds. Your time here could be spent shopping at the unique shops, checking out the shrine, relaxing in Koenji Chuo Park, and drinking coffee at Poem, the Japanese coffee shop at the beginning of the area.
In the neighborhood you mostly see residents with the exception of the vintage-hunters, so it is a good place to observe the real life of the neighborhood, more quiet and relaxed, where people know each other and with a completely different vibe from bustling areas like Shinjuku or Shibuya.
If you want to grab a bite, try the popular izakaya, Marukyu, on the corner of the street right next to Laugh. There are also more options two streets over to the west, just south from the entrance of the area, including Chinese and fresh oysters at Kakigoya Oyster Shack.
On the opposite corner of Laugh across from the shrine at the beginning of the street, you will also find a small but well-stocked record shop, Ead Record. The owner is very kind and is happy to give you information on new items and let you listen to records before you buy. Down at the bottom of the main vintage drag to the left across from the park you’ll also find Amp Cafe for art and events and Koenji High on the corner, the largest music venue in Koenji.
Keep walking through the streets of the area and you will find a small Bonsai shop that also serves drinks, Rabi Adesso. You can enjoy a good hot drink in the company of the friendly owner. More vintage shops are found along this road, such as Super Old and the girly-pop-kawaii Dai Dai that sandwich Rabi Adesso. If you need a drastic change, there are also a couple of really rock and roll hairdressers in the area, specializing in crazy colors and voluminous crests!
Location: The vintage clothing area on the southeast side of Koenji is located east of Konan Dori Street, the main road that heads south from Koenji Station. The best way to enter the area is to head east (left) from the south exit not immediately but at the bottom of the open square in front the station. When you reach Koenji Hikawa Shrine on your left, begin heading south (to the right). A variety of vintage clothing stores are spread out south of the shrine, 3 minutes on foot from the station.
When to go: Most shops open late in the morning or early afternoon, so if you want to be sure to find them open go there from 1:00pm onward. Restaurants in the area open especially for dinner time, but you can find some ramen such as Tenka Ippin open for lunch.
Prices: As in all areas of Koenji, typically prices are usually lower than other more fashionable places. Koenji has more of a punk and underground atmosphere and is certainly an economic area compared to other places known for fashion shopping such as Harajuku. However, you can also find top-of-the-line and best-of-the-best vintage items in Koenji, which fetch high prices.
Koenji Awa-Odori– a traditional festival born in Shikoku, takes place in this area along Konan Dori Street the last weekend of August.
Koenji Fest– a subculture festival featuring live music, wrestling, food and costumed characters in the end of October. Some events take place in the area at Koenji Chuo Park.
Guidance: Grab a copy of the “Koenji Vintage Clothing District” guide and map from the station. The Southeast area is shown in orange on the map.
[published October 2018]
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