Japan memories – Shimokitazawa

My Facebook friends will recognize these shots, that I took of the South Exit area of the Shimokitazawa station, in late May 2005.

Shimokitazawa has been a artistic, club and music center around Tokyo for a couple decades. In the time I was in Japan, that “scene” was already moving to Koenji, and to some extent, Naka Meguro. Shimokitazawa still has the flavor, but I’d bet in about 20 years it won’t be what it is today.

As happens throughout the world, the artists make a neighborhood cool. They bring in their energy and talent. The next thing you know, people with means want to live in the area. They end up gentrifying it, and making it difficult for the struggling artists to pay the rent. So the artists move on.

The merchants and restaurant owners end up being pushed out, too. Or they get really successful, and move on to a different neighborhood. Inevitably, the whole place becomes takes on another atmosphere. I came in the late stages of this happening in Harajuku and Omotesando.

The coolest club, and it’s still there, is Club 440, which is down the road you see above.

[Update 1/26/12: Comparing Harajuku to Shimokita. You can often tell the more artistic area by the way the artist kids hold themselves out. In Harajuku, you see these cock-sure, confident types. They know that they are cool, because, after all, they have checked out all the fashion, and they are “it”. In a place like Shimokita, you see the unsure artist. They think they have something, but, well, maybe not. “Is it good?” “Is it new?” Much more the creator, and less the wearer. More the describer and less the shower.]

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