- Distance from Station:
- Starts immediately south of JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station South Exit
- Shop hours vary, but mostly 10:00am - 8:00pm
- Mostly Japanese, some establishments have English-speaking staff
NISHI-OGIKUBO SOUTH SHOPPING AREA
Souvenirs, Curry, Sweets and More Lead You South from Nishi-Ogikubo Station
[published January 2021]
This Nishi-Ogikubo South shopping street called Kyu-Fudo or Old Capital Road may not appear buzzing at first glance, but then Nishi-Ogikubo doesn’t really buzz, it has more of a gentle hum.
The short and narrow Nakadori-gai arcade which is directly opposite the South exit of Nishi-Ogikubo station leads on to the shopping street which is a long straight road running north to south with unique independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants loved by locals, juxtaposed with other businesses and residences.
Pink Elephant: Starting from the covered Nakadori shopping street make sure to say hello to the Pink Elephant suspended from the roof in the arcade. This is the third generation Pink Elephant; The first generation arrived here in the mid-1970’s, originally intended to go on a float pulled by children during the Ogikubo Hachiman Shrine Festival. The Pink Elephant has become an iconic Nishiogi mascot and you will see images of it around this lovely neighbourhood.
Next to the elephant is Auckland jeans store, they sell not only jeans but many other items including Japanese design 5-toe socks and the ‘Nishi-Ogikubo’ T-shirts by David & Jonathan. Instead of the usual kanji characters you see on T-shirts; It’s not “Harajuku”, it’s not “Ichiban”, it’s “Nishi-Ogikubo”! It would be good show your Nishiogi love or use as a conversation piece. Established in 1951, the long-standing Auckland and the proprietor Tada-san have witnessed the ever changing Nishi-Ogikubo townscape and the generations of the Pink Elephants over the decades.
Crossing over Shinmeidori Avenue (which also has many fine shops and cafes) brings us to the top end of the South Shopping Street.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat then French Curry Spoon is right there, you can probably smell those delicious spices already. Another great curry place is Café Orchestra further down the road, also Asian Kitchen Kumar and other places serve curry. If you haven’t guessed, Nishi-Ogikubo is a curry town. If you want to make your own curry then you’re also in the right place as N-Harvest is on this street. Their exotic interior houses an extensive range of certified organic, fair trade spices and herbs, lentils, chickpeas, basmati rice, dried fruit, teas and more. Many of them are from Hunza, Pakistan, a place very close to the proprietor Suzuki-san’s heart. You can buy their original blend of ‘Nishiogi Masala’ with a Pink Elephant design on it. Why not give a kick to your curry at home with extra delicious flavours? Also, they host spice workshop events where participants can learn and taste authentic plant-based curries or biryani recipes from various parts of India or Pakistan.
Of course, many different types of cuisine are available. Re:gendo is a quaint old Japanese folk house in a side road which has been renovated to create an atmospheric cafe serving Japanese style dishes. They also offer some household goods and clothing.
Café Hana is another café in an old Japanese house in another side road, serving healthy azuki bean dishes such as Bibimbap, Gyoza, and the curry comes with fermented enzyme brown rice as well as homemade red bean sweets like their signature An-Burger (sweet red bean burger) and drinks with an essence of Korea. It is vegetarian and vegan friendly. Did we mention Nishi-Ogikubo is also a vegan mecca in Tokyo?
Menson RAGE is a very popular ramen shop with a subculture and rock feel (the owner got the name from the band Rage Against the Machine). As ramen mecca Ogikubo is only one station away, there are several other ramen shops in this area. Another very popular establishment is a french bistro called Organ, which is on the next road to the east. Near the top end of the street one road further east is Piyototochat. It’s a tiny but ever-so-colourful kitsch cute café with a weekly changing international menu.
For those with a sweet tooth, the compact wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop, Echigo Tsuruya, locals affectionately call ‘Omochi-ya-san’, is not to be missed. The shop is frequented by many locals and celebrities alike. Their delicious daifuku (sweet red bean paste in mochi) are made fresh at the counter, it is fascinating to watch the artisan’s amazing skills while you are waiting in the queue. Particularly Ichigo daifuku is delightful, a whole juicy strawberry is inside. No additives are used, so tuck in while it’s fresh! Daifuku range are suitable for vegetarians and vegan.
Just a few metres away from the mochi shop in the side road is Khanam where you will find a range of baked confectionary such as cakes, muffins, scones and cookies and also all vegan. Back on the shopping street, further down the road is a rather nostalgic Japanese sweets cafe with a half a century of history, Amaikko, which amongst other things is well known for its strawberry milk-sweet bean paste-shaved ice in the summer. Also at the very south end of the street is the chic-looking Macaron et Chocolat with its brightly coloured macaron.
Music Cafes and Bars:
During the day, there is Café JUHA in the next road to the east. It is often referred to as a jazz café, but the proprietor has a huge array of records and plays music from a wide range of genres. The coffee is roasted in-house and toast with various toppings is on offer.
If you are here in the evening you will notice several bars opening up, some with live music or DJ’s.
Bar KICK-ASS is a lively venue where those who love music, films, football and Nishiogi gather for DJ nights and other events. Adjacent to café Orchestra, Music Bar VOX is a stylish bar, customers can request music from the vast CD collection and there are occasional events. Just a bit further down the road is the basement bar Darts & Vegan Bar Meteora which features 80’s metal music, darts, and offers a variety of vegan dishes. (We did mention Nishiogi is a vegan mecca, didn’t we?)
Nishi-Ogikubo is famous for its antique shops mostly centered around streets north of the station, but there are some here as well including Higurashi Furuguten, selling tastefully selected furniture, lighting, homeware and parts, and Trifle, which mainly deals in and repairs timepieces. They have a fascinating range of old clocks, watches, and pocket watches.
Kitchen and household:
There are various stores selling household and lifestyle items. If you fancy something a bit different then near the south end of the street, Rocca is highly recommended for very nice kitchenware and tableware. There are also lovely original items with flora and fauna designs beautifully hand-painted by the proprietor Takeuchi-san. Make sure to look for the Pink Elephant tumblers and canisters, ‘Nishiogi Souvenir’ clearly marked on the shelf!
Enjoy a leisurely stroll, feel Nishiogi’s mellow vibes and discover the charm as you pick up some local delicacies and souvenirs, or while unwinding in a cafe.
The street is fairly quiet on weekdays and busier on weekends. Monday and Tuesday are the quietest days with many (but by no means all) places closed on either or both days.
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