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A Master Class in Koenji Vintage Shopping

Date: 02.25.2020

Mikansei

Koenji, located in Suginami City to the west of central Tokyo, is an absolute treasure trove of vintage fashion and bohemian culture that is well worth exploring. While Koenji has come to the attention of international media only in recent years, savvy shoppers have found it be a mainstay of vintage fashion for decades.

GRANDBERRY JAM

Within a relatively small area, there are well over seventy vintage shops, more if you count stores that sell both vintage fashion and new clothes and shops that specialize in interior design. It really is a dizzying amount of merchandise to take in—everything from vintage denim that costs a whole month’s rent to antique kimono for the cost of a magazine.

BOZO Used & Vintage Clothing

Coming straight out of the station, it can be hard to know where to find vintage shops. This is not strange, because finding information about these shops is not easy. Many don’t have regular opening hours, websites, or signage, and visitors may find a shop only when they happen upon it. In the past, shoppers obtained information from those in the know or simply explored the backstreets at their own pace.

Koenji Vintage Clothing District Tokyo

However, Koenji Vintage Clothing District Tokyo, a guide in English, makes navigating the backstreets of Koenji a breeze. Aside from maps, it also contains a bit of fashion advice for those making a foray into the world of vintage.

The oldest vintage shops in Koenji began to pop up in the 1990s toward the south of the station. At that time the area’s small concert venues and relatively cheap rents made it a subculture haven, and the vintage scene flourished in parallel with the music scene. The area around the temple Chosenji, a three-minute walk from the station, is home to some of vintage fashion’s old guard, watched over by the temple’s Niō guardian statues.

The interior of "Gaijin"

The store with the amusing name Gaijin began in the late 2000s. Gaijin targets women for a start, and it doesn’t care much about the quality of individual vintage pieces, but rather the overall look of the store. In this way, a shop can become a stylist and foster a fashion tribe in its own right.

Hayatochiri

Hayatochiri is in the surviving piece of the fashion commune known as the Kitakore Building. This is where international popstars like Lady Gaga have been known to visit when they are in town. And even though the edgy exterior of the shop may appear distressed, the interior is home to some cutting-edge fashion.

 

With that kind of endorsement, you owe it to yourself to check out the Koenji vintage scene and discover your own vintage treasure.

The Koenji Vintage Clothing District Tokyo guide is available on the pamphlet stand at the exit for JR Koenji Station on the Chuo and Tozai Lines—you can’t miss it!

 

This article was written by Sam Saint James.

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