Well, for the first time by myself I strolled around just enjoying the atmosphere (back in ’09 and ’10 I’d been led around by friends: see pics from my day out in Nakano & Koenji) .
It’s a funky little town with lots of cobbled streets in which to lose yourself, many pedestrian-only, so you don’t need to dodge traffic. My japanese friends told me it has been home to punks for many years, and there is a plethora of vintage stores to rival Harajuku, so leave a few hours to dawdle and explore. There is also a covered mall area near the railway station with a load of groovy stores, such as these:
This is an upmarket vintage fashion store, part of the Zool chain – see the Zool shoplist here for a complete rundown of what is becoming a massive empire – this store is called Tatouage by Zool (Purple). A lot of late 60’s and 70’s stuff is here, along with more modern styles, and helpfully arranged in colour coded sections. Know you like blues? Head to that rack.
By and large, I’m not a vintage shopper, though I have been seduced by the charms of Grimoire on more than one occasion. There really are a lot of great items in here though to tempt me…including a great variety of leather jackets and knee high boots, which I DO love! (And tutus, though I’m getting too old to wear them on their own..but under a big circle skirt is ok, yes?)
Moving on to a fashion style that IS close to my heart – punk!! Next store is…
I had heard of Thrasher before, but it may have been the Gene Simmons from Kiss mask that got my attention:
Hey presto! This is the place where I’d seen the punk dummy on previous occasions (& taken irreverent photos with).
Thrasher the label is an offshoot of the skater community magazine “Thrasher” which was established in San Francisco in 1981, and launched in Japan in 2001. From magazine beginnings, wearable products followed, and presumably this store carries the label, as the logo is the same. I can’t find it on the list of Thrasher stockists however, so go figure.
This store Thrasher offers rack upon rack of secondhand punk and vintage clothing, as well as brand new punk accessories such as band pins, skelly gloves (which I bought), belts, caps etc, as well as other music-related items. You’ll usually see some cute pierced guys with studded leather jackets at the till, which is reason enough to go 😉
OK, everyone has heard of this one by now, and since I dropped into the Shibuya store I didn’t go into the Koenji one. (It was already getting dark and I hadn’t yet got to Nude n’ Rude!) Owner Tavuchi epitomises the Spank! look, full of 80’s, retro girlishness. For more pictorial inspiration, see the Spank! yaplog here. If fairy kei, My Little Pony and pink/blue/lavender pastelly fashion is your thing, you’ll love it.
This is a well known brand featured often in Kera magazine. Listen Flavor uses a LOT of colour in its clothing, as well as (recently) union jack and eyeball motifs, leopard and spots (always), and cartoony characters. A bit too youthful for me (except for the eyeball accessories, which I love!), but the stores always bring a smile to my face.
For a comprehensive overview of Koenji fashion, you should head straight to my friends at TokyoTelephone. They live there, so kinda have it covered 😉 See their posts on Vintage Koenji, or just fashion in Koenji. Danny Choo also has a great photo post about Koenji, which gives you a feel for the various aspects of the neighbourhood. Kimoken takes street fashion snaps in Koenji.
Koenji is on the Chuo line and can be reached from Shinjuku in 9 minutes by the JR Chuo/Sobu Line Local Service at a cost of 1250 yen.
TIP: Check Hyperdia for all your rail travel in Japan queries. I live by it!
Have you been to Koenji? What do you like about it? What are your fave stores?