If you have more time in Tokyo then it’s a good idea to get away from the main crowds for a while and explore Tokyo off the beaten path, where you will find mostly local people.
The few foreigners that you may see around these neighbourhoods tend to be mostly expats living there.
Off The Beaten Path In Tokyo
Where do hipsters stay in Tokyo?
Shimokitazawa would certainly be a candidate for it.
It’s more a place where artists and alternative lifestyles take place, mixed along with just everyday life in a Tokyo neighbourhood.
I had visited this area to meet a friend on a previous trip and loved the mellow vibe.
But at the time of writing this post I’ve been lucky enough to stay in the area at a friends apartment.
It’s located only several minutes away by train from the bustling district of Shibuya, but they couldn’t be more different.
It’s full of chilled out small “streets” with plenty of cafes serving up good coffee, pancakes, the usual ramen hole in the wall joints, and lots of boutique shops.
There’s definitely a bohemian atmosphere.
It’s just one of those places where you can slow down and take your time, sit at a table outside a cafe and watch the local people go about their daily lives.
Experience a side to Tokyo you won’t see in the busier areas.
And if you love shopping at small boutique stores then you will be very happy wandering around there.
An escape from the massive shopping centres in Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Being so close to Shibuya, even if you don’t have much time in Tokyo it will only take you several minutes out of your way and walking around without stopping to relax you can see the area in 30 minutes easily, it’s not so big.
It’s worth your while to see a more alternative Tokyo.
I got recommended this Tokyo neighbourhood by an American expat I had met in Tokyo where he and his Japanese wife said it’s a good place to get away from the usual tourist crowds.
They were right.
If you head north from the local station, Kichijoji, you will just come into a busy shopping area, but go south and you will come to quiet lanes and a really chilled out park with a small lake.
This is the ultimate place to seriously just people watch and slow down.
It’s all local families and a few expats. Even some of the main streets outside the park are not that bad compared to the rest of Tokyo.
There are a few boutique shops around and plenty of food options.
The one thing that will not be “off the beaten path” is the Studio Ghibli Museum located at the edge of the park.
This is super popular and often you have to book weeks, even months in advance to reserve a ticket.
From what I observed it appeared to be mostly Japanese visitors going in, and despite the popularity it certainly didn’t feel like overcrowded with visitors.
It’s also a beautiful building and you can at least get your photo taken outside with one of the most beloved characters in animation history, Totoro 🙂
The area is located about a 20 minute train ride from Shinjuku.
KŌenji has a very similar viBe to Shimokitazawa with a bohemian atmosphere, plenty more vintage stores, and a very cool arts scene.
Also like Shimokitazawa it’s not that far from Shinjuku so makes for a great off the beaten path Tokyo neighbourhood to visit.
It’s not that fare from Shimokitazawa itself so you could combine the two easily.
Get Off The Beaten Path in Tokyo
One option if you have plenty of time in the city is to combine a half day going to Shimokitazawa and Inokashira Park, they are only 20 minutes from each other, before heading back into Shinjuku or Shibuya.
These suggestions are only for those wanting to get a flavour of more quieter local life and some hipster areas in Tokyo.
Useful Tokyo Links
Find out about more things to do in my Tokyo Guide.
Get a Tokyo Metro Pass here to get around Tokyo (recommended).
Also if you’re going to Japan and worried about expenses check out my post on how Japan may not be as expensive as you may think.
Definitely take travel insurance before going to Japan as it’s an expensive country for medical treatment if you get sick on your trip.
I’ve been caught out myself in the past medically while travelling and have used World Nomads for my travel insurance and they have been excellent.
Get an insurance quote:
Do you have any off the beaten path suggestions for Tokyo that you have been to?
If you liked this article about Tokyo off the beaten path a share would be cool 🙂