Pack your bags and get your walking shoes on – Tokyo Telephone is back with the updated list of the best vintage shops in Koenji for 2016. With over 70 stores to explore, not including kimono and recycle shops, there really is something for everyone at every budget. From perfectly beaten-up Dr Martens to cat sweaters to antique kimono, we’ve got you covered.
Key to Koenji’s success as a vintage heaven has been it’s location and layout – sitting between fast-fashion Shinjuku and young family haven Kichijoji, with Nakano Broadway just next door, Koenji is easy to access by train. Add to this the small streets to the north and the Pal shopping arcade that morphs into the Look shopping street, and it’s a town that’s best explored on foot. Living here, it’s hard to restrain oneself from snapping up every bargain and one-off item (white suede cowboy boots? Yes, please), but there’s also something to be said for just taking the time to stroll around and look. I love window-shopping, browsing and having a good rummage around, and even when nothing tempts me to take out my wallet I’m more than likely to come away inspired to look at my wardrobe in a different light.
Ready? Let’s go shopping…
AiLeen – Successor to the original Grog Grog store, AiLeen offers country American style, with a great selection of vintage hats and a few crafty antiques too.
Albatross/Slut – Do you want to visit a store named Slut? Of course you do. (Albatross also has a good number of reasonably priced band t-shirts.)
Ama no Jaku
Chocolate Chihuahua – Open very irregularly, this is the embodiment of underground club wear.
Dai Dai – An adorable paradise of colourful clothing fit for any 1990s art teacher.
Gasoline – Proper vintage biker cool.
Gorilla – Okay, it’s not technically vintage, but at Gorilla you can find replica Max Mad leather jackets, as well as the lowdown on Mad Max conventions in Japan.
Hayatochiri – Stocking vintage and new items from Tokyo Telephone favourites such as Lactose, Otona Toy and Josiah Chua.
Jacob’s Ladder – European vintage, with everything from dirndls to postman delivery bags.
Kuro-Benz – Atmospheric store with a great selection of well-worn clothing and accessories, this isn’t the pristine museum that many other vintage shops are.
Lover Soul – Excellent range of retro ‘60s and ‘70s clothing at affordable prices.
Macaronic – Having moved from Harajuku to Koenji, Macaronic continues to showcase new designers as well as selected vintage.
Mad Tea Party
Magie de Styliste
Now or Never
Oshare Gaijin – Located to the south-west of Koenji station in a charming square that’s home to several vintage shops and cafes.
Small Change – Take a good look at the gorgeous dresses displayed on the staircase, and be careful not to be so distracted by sequins that you fall down the stairs!
Sokkyou – Known for it’s highly curated selection, Sokkyou is the authentic Koenji vintage experience.
Southpaw by Cathy
(Spank – Now relocated to Nakano Broadway.)
UK Extra – Mod jackets, polo shirts and winklepickers, UK Extra has the best of British vintage.
Whistler/Chart – A huge number of pre-worn boots displayed outside, you’ll be sure to find the perfect pair of Dr Martens/chukkas/army boots.
Zzz…/Bedroom Tokyo – The current height of teenage cool, this is the place to find your pastel pink katakana hoodie and mini backpack with wings. (See if you can spot the store from the Chuo local line platform at Koenji train station.)
Zool – With several stores specialising in mens and womenswear, the Zool chain epitomises Koenji’s vintage chic appeal.
It’s not just Western clothing on offer in Koenji, there’s also a few vintage kimono shops to discover.
Kirakuya – A huge selection (in a very small store) of vintage kimono, most at reasonable prices – it’s easy to loose an afternoon just looking.
Mame Budou – As well as unique motifs and patterns, Mame Budou also has a whole wall of tiny vintage beaded bags – supposed to coordinate with your kimono, they’ll also bring a bit of sparkle to your next evening out.
Recycle shops buy and sell contemporary clothing, usually from Japanese brands. It’s a booming business, and an easy way to add to your wardrobe on a budget. Need a denim jacket and don’t fancy pawing through the seventy-something shops listed above? Chances are that a recycle shop will have a few on hand for under Y1,000.
Don Don Down on Wednesday – Don’t let Don Don’s vegetable-based pricing system put you off!
Treasure Factory – Koenji has two Treasure Factory stores, one with a selection of domestic Japanese and designer brands and the other with a more fast-fashion focus.
(Please note that in the majority of cases you’ll need a Japanese-issued foreign resident card if you wish to sell your own clothes at one of these stores.)
This isn’t quite a comprehensive list, shops are always changing, but do feel free to leave a comment if you’d like specific suggestions.