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Shimokitazawa, Setagaya's insider take:

Those looking to escape the neon lights and towering buildings of Shibuya will find a bohemian respite just five minutes away in Shimokitazawa. The neighborhood—one of the few in Tokyo to emerge from World War II unscathed—has long been a destination for the city's creative types, with its winding streets now filled with cafés, record shops, and vintage boutiques. Wandering on foot is the best way to explore the neighborhood (some throughways are closed to cars in the afternoon, and others are too narrow for anything more than bicycles), which offers up surprises if you venture down dead ends or peer up to spaces above street level. One such spot, Haight & Ashbury, fills its second-floor boutique with an impressive selection of '50s suits and '70s platforms. For something made this century, stop by Sally Scott for whimsical blouses and feminine dresses. Around the corner you'll find the throwback furniture shop A.M.A. Store, handmade jeweler Frank and Easy, and arguably the best coffee spot in town, Bear Pond Espresso.—Rebecca Willa Davis

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