There was something in yesterday's International Herald Tribune from my own backyard, as it were, about the neighborhood of Shimo-Kitazawa. No, I don't hang out there and I've only been there a couple of times -- I usually think of it as a transfer station between Shibuya and Kichijoji on the Keio Inokashira train line that I'm always passing through -- but I keep meaning to drop by some weekend and explore the streets and back-alleys to see what I can see. The story I excerpt below certainly gives me an incentive to do so soon, before the unstoppable juggernaut of Urban
For someone else's look at the neighborhood, check out "The cool sounds of 'Shimo'" by Steve McClure of the International Herald Tribune (February 4, 2004). Find out about Pizza of Death Records, and yes, the label's name does make perfect sense once you know the story.
By Martin Fackler, New York Times
Tokyo, Setagaya Ward, Japan - With its vintage clothing stores, live music clubs and cheap noodle shops, Shimokitazawa is Tokyo’s answer to Greenwich Village, an epicenter of youth culture in one of Asia’s trendiest metropolises.
The neighborhood is popular for its cozy residential feel, drawing hordes of students and young office workers, who regularly throng its maze of narrow lanes and alleys.
Its tiny shops, many in converted houses or low-rise apartments, often bear names that recall a counterculture across the Pacific: the Village Vanguard Diner, Haight Ashbury, Mojo Rising.
The road has set off a rare battle for preservation in a country where big construction projects have long been welcomed as progress and used to grease the wheels of politics.
The fight pits boutique and bar owners, among them the first bearers of hippie culture to the neighborhood three decades ago, against city hall and older residents who resent the relative newcomers.