Recently, the “hipster” trend has seemed to make its way across the pacific and into the land of the rising sun. While this trend is beginning to simmer down in the west, leaving it to the people who truly enjoy the lifestyle instead of those who “enjoyed” it because it was cool, the engine is just being started up here in Japan.


What is a hipster though?
There isn’t a true definition for this lifestyle, as hipsters tend to dislike the whole “labelling” culture and do not like to be defined by anything…we will set that aside and try to put a definition to it anyways. What a rebel!


A hipster is someone who does not follow trends. It is a subculture of people who value independent thinking, counter-culture, who appreciate arts and music, progressive thinking, and are in-tune to the new technological advancements. Some of the hipster stereotypes consist of shopping at thrift stores, drinking local coffee, listening to indie bands, and riding a fixed gear bicycle.


(Harajuku’s Be a Good Neighbor)

There is a certain vibe that many hipsters have, and there is a large range in the “hipster” look. But, this is all truly just personal taste, and I do not believe that there is just one “image” that a hipster should have.


Being a hipster is about having a concept that is not really a concept. Something that captures the essence of who you are and what you enjoy. This can also be applied to bands, stores, and really, anything that is related to being “hipster.”


(American singer/song writer Holly Miranda)

So, this trend is now coming to Japan, and because of this new trend happening in Japan, there has been an outburst of articles on Portland, Oregon. Portland, along with San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Brooklyn, are some of the largest hubs for hipsters of all kinds.


(Austin’s Jo’s Coffee)

With small and local music venues, plenty of locally owned thrift shops and cafes, these cities have their own quirky and artsy culture that attracts the younger generations. Bicycle friendly with a lot of nature, that is exactly what a hipster is in search for.


(San Francisco’s Four Barrel Coffee)

Portland embodies all of this and has become the epicenter for the hipster lifestyle. This is the reason why Portland is trending in Japan. Though, if anyone from those cities found out about any of this, they would probably laugh and consider people who are trying to attain this lifestyle as posers. But, I must admit, this is a trend and trends are what encompasses most of Tokyo.


So then I was thinking, if those are the “hipster” cities in America, then, what cities in Tokyo can be considered hipster…?


Here is my list of hipster cities in Tokyo.


  • Shimokitazawa.

With all of the used clothing stores, thrift stores, record shops, music venues, and old buildings, Shimokitazawa is the true definition of what a hipster is. Although it is not very bicycle friendly, it has everything else you could ask for.

  • 下北沢


  • Koenji

Koenji is known as the king of thrift shops in Tokyo. With numerous used clothing stores, vintage stores, and tiny bars that are tucked away in every corner. Koenji is home to some of the oldest live venues and also has some of the best tattoo parlors in Tokyo. With numerous 10 seater bars and restaurants, Koenji is a close second.

  • 高円寺


  • Sangenjyaya

While this little place seems to get over looked often, I would like to put Sancha in 3rd place. Sancha offers a large array of small restaurants and cafes, along with a couple of well known, tiny, live venues. There are cafe/bars that are open until the first train, Sancha is a quaint little area where you want to go if you want to enjoy the local food venues and bike shops.

  • 三軒茶屋


  • Harajuku

At first I did not really consider Harajuku to be a “hipster” area, but if you ignore main strip near the station and Meiji street and go into the depths of the small paths, you will be surprised to see all the tiny select shops Harajuku embodies. Home to well known venues, unique fashion and shops that have virtually anything and everything, Harajuku definitely makes its way onto my list. Also, it has some amazing street art in these back streets that you should definitely check out.

  • 原宿


  • Daikanyama

Daikanyama is the last on my list. It is known to for its upperclass atmosphere, and yes, it does have many brand-name select shops, but it also consists of that certain clean, trendy, tumblr-esque look that can be found when looking up hipsters. The buildings are stylish and you can also find some of the very few vegan restaurants in Tokyo.

  • 代官山


Do you think you’re a hipster?

Take a look at the list that I made below that, in my mind, make someone a hipster. (Do you fit into these?)



  1. Do you wear skinny jeans?
  1. Do you drink local coffee?
  1. Do you shop at thrift stores?
  2. Do you buy vinyl records?
  3. Do you listen to indie bands?
  4. Do you ride your bike as the main mode of transportation?
  5. Do you wear vintage/band t shirts?
  6. Do you wear blazers?
  7. Do you write?
  8. Do you consider yourself a hipster?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you might be a hipster!


Check out this documentary series about hipsters all over America!


Portland, Oregon

Austin, Texas

San Francisco, California

Seattle, Washington

NYC, New York

■■ 今日のフレーズ!■■


少し変わっていて、それでも可愛い物・場所・人・仕草、などに対する単語です。例:「This cafe is quirky」「このカフェ(変わっていて)可愛いね」


「なりすまし」が1番近い訳です。全く良い印象が付いてない単語です。悪口でよく使われています。例:スケボできないのにスケボを持ち歩く人などを「poser」と呼びます。「He’s such a poser」「本当に彼なりすましだよね」