Save the Shimokitazawa


The madhouse that was Yoyogi park last weekend. It was Woodstock-crowded.

I had the best weekend. This was due to the fact that my weekend revolved around some of my great loves in life; music festivals, picnics, cherry blossom trees, and Japanese hippies.

I think Japanese hippies are hilarious. They’re like the cleaner and better- dressed version of the real thing. I went to a Peace festival yesterday at Yoyogi park and saw Japanese hippies camped out everywhere, playing guitars, drumming on empty wine bottles and free-style rapping about the preservatives in convenience store food. For some of them I think that being a ‘hippie’ is more of a style trend than an actual way of life, judging from some of the designer-brand ‘Aladdin pants’ and clip-on dreadlocks that I saw. My friend and I ran into a girl we’d met in a club two weeks ago, and together we danced, sang and watched as several of the hippies attempted to communicate with extraterrestrial, using a device that looked like a cross between a 1980’s cell phone and a stereo.

The end of the night found us near the front of the main stage, in a giant mosh pit. The lead singer of the band “Doggy style” was sans shirt and wearing a loincloth and everyone was jumping and flailing around in drunken excitement. Every few minutes I would have to scream and duck to prevent a crowd surfer from landing on my head. Somehow though, I still ended up getting kicked in the ear and I lost both of shoes in the process (“now you’re a real hippie”) but I had a blast anyway.

Just to put it out there, I’m not a hippie. But my parents are and I went to a hippie school growing up, so they’ve always sort of held a special place in my heart. I guess that’s how I ended up donating money to the one of their causes, “Save the Shimokitazawa”.;

Shimokitzawa is Tokyo’s equivalent to NYC’s Greenwich village. If I were to ever live in Tokyo again (and if I could afford the high rent), I would definitely chose to live in Shimo. It has a lot of trendy boutiques and coffee shops and because it’s a few stops outside of the city’s center, it’s quieter and has a more laid-back vibe.

Unfortunately, like with much of Tokyo, the-powers-that-be have decided that it’s best to build some high-rise buildings and a highway directly through the middle of the neighborhood, which would essential destroy it.

Supposedly people are protesting this. But because this is Japan, I somehow doubt that their protests involve loud, marching pickets or sit-ins or human barricades in front of the bulldozers. From what I’ve read, the most the protestors have done is design some t-shirts, record an album and give some politely-worded speeches at a few town hall meetings.

I have a feeling that this will end up being a losing battle.

Here are some photos of the neighborhood that I took a couple of weekends ago…





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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Martin in Bulgaria

    Hi Reannon,

    A great time had and throwback to the hippy age by all accounts. Shame that you have to go back to reality. Protests count for nothing nowadays everywhere, shame that the peopel can't swing things and other means more radical have to be made for anyone to listen to reasoning.

    Good read, thanks.

  2. Julie

    I bought 3 of their shirts. I lived a few stations from Shimo Kitazawa and my cousin lives only one station away. I didn't see any hippies there, but it's where almost all the best live show venues, vintage stores and record shops are. Such a shame!!

  3. Reannon

    We should do something! I'd hate to see that whole neighborhood be destroyed for a highway that no one needs. We need to find a famous singer or something to endorse the cause in an interview. Celebrity endorsements go a long way here. Anyone know anyone famous?