Free Factory

Edgy Shimokitazawa Cafe

By Jessica Chambers    - 3 min read

Free Factory is a very contemporary cafe/bar located in the very 'indie' Shimokitazawa. It is located right next to a 60's vintage shop, tucked away on the third floor of an otherwise nondescript building. Free Factory is the epitome of a hidden treasure that I am thrilled I found. As a young woman in Tokyo, it is hard to find interesting yet pleasant dining venues that don't cost the earth! Free Factory is not only an experience in itself, but its prices will definitely not break the bank.

Upon stepping out of the elevator on the third floor, we were met with a large metal door adorned with a picture of a Campbells soup tin. At this moment, I knew this place would be an exciting experience. Through the metal doors we entered another room, a metal staircase leading to another metal door stood in the corner, the industrial heaviness of the decor gave the cafe a rustic feel, and left me with total intrigue as to what the rest of the cafe would look like! At the top of those stairs, we encountered one of the smallest doors I have ever been through. Being of around 5"7 myself, I had to duck through the minuscule door frame, the whole time, very curious about the rabbit hole I was stumbling into! Once inside I couldn't believe the wonderland I was seeing. Mismatched chairs and tables, a library, lounge chairs, a hidden reading space- all lit with cosy lamp lighting. The decor complimented the mood and feel of the cafe, warm, buzzing and full of youth.

The main clientele I observed during my time there seemed to be young artists or musicians, busily tapping away at their laptops while listening to music through the large headphones that were free to use. Young couples having dinner, and of course, myself and my friend- the only foreigners in the venue. Upon saying that, the menu and staff were very foreigner friendly, the menu had English titles and tasty looking sketches of the food to give foreigners an idea of the delicacies they had to offer. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, helping us with our bags and giving us blankets- despite the temperature of the cafe being just right.

We ordered at the small counter and were asked which of the complimentary drinks we desired (tea or coffee) and then returned to our table. Our 'table' was unusual, very comfy - but unusual. Me and my friend came late in the evening, and there were very few seats left, so we were given a "bed table" which is literally a comfy flat seat with trays! Very rustic. For those that prefer not to lounge as you eat, do not fret, there are many alternatives! When the food came, we were both very impressed by the two starter courses we received before our main meal. A delicious salad topped with Free Factory's own dressing, and a mouthwatering Onion soup in a mug. When our main meals came we were again completely delighted by the food that came! Piping hot and full of flavour!

The whole experience left me with fond feelings and eagerness to return. Free Factory is definitely a place to stop by if you are enjoying a vintage experience in Shimokitazawa.

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Jessica Chambers

Jessica Chambers @jessica.chambers

My name is Jessica Chambers, I live in Tokyo, Japan, I'm 17 years old and British. My life in Tokyo is exciting and wonderful. I love exploring Japan, though primarily the streets of Tokyo. I have a passion for writing and vintage clothing. I believe Japanese cuisine to be the best in the world, and I love to hunt down the best places to eat it!

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Bryan Garcia 6 years ago
Heard a lot about this place over here in New York. Looks like my kind of environment; cafe during the day, bar at night. Definitely looking forward to checking it out!
Catherine Hagar 7 years ago
I visited Free Factory last weekend after reading your article. It was very cool with lounge seating and tons of travel and design books. They had free wi-fi so I could work there for hours.

I thought the cafe was definitely trying to emulate Warhol's studio in New York. Very cool place :)
brg 8 years ago