The following article was originally published in Issue 12 of inCiderJapan magazine.
Shimokitazawa has long been famous as Tokyo’s quintessential neighbourhood of laid back vibes and bohemian cool and is often referred to as the city’s hippest suburb with its narrow winding streets dotted with eclectic cafés, second-hand clothing stores, vintage record shops, and miscellaneous art galleries, live houses, and bars. But Shimokita, as the locals call it, is also home to one of the oldest liquor shops around, and for at least the last seven years, undeniably one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of cider, not to mention one of the best places to find it. Unless the R2-D2 near the door manages to catch your eye, however, it’s the kind of place you can walk past several times without ever noticing (as are most of the more interesting shops in the area). But adventuring inside will reward you with refrigerators filled with some of the freshest and latest domestic and imported craft beers and ciders around. Kitazawa Konishi, which opened in 1931, is now run by third-generation manager, Emi Kurashima. The store was started by Kurashima’s husband’s grandfather, and incredibly has roots that go all the way back to the Edo period in the 17th century. This year marks their 90th anniversary, an unbelievable milestone, so we wished to honor them here, especially as the continuing scourge that is Covid-19 has prevented them to otherwise celebrate. When Kurashima originally took over in 2014, she and her husband, at the time still a salaryman, renovated the shop with wine as their primary focus, but they soon faced fierce competition from a new wave of smaller chain shops that offered cheaper varieties. Wanting to stand out from the crowd, Kitazawa Konishi switched to specializing in locally produced non-alcoholic cider, but the money just wasn’t there. That’s when, after thinking that perhaps selling beer could help answer their sales problems, they came upon Japan’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Kurashima’s husband,began attending as many craft beer events as he could find, gradually becoming part of an unusually welcoming community of people. In time, they made friends with a number of craft beer importers, and eventually ones also dealing in cider. Kurashima says she was so excited when she finally tried a cider that met her expectations of what a cider should taste like; and just like that as fate would have it, Kitazawa Konishi became a craft beer and cider shop. We asked Kurashima if she’s seen over the years any differences in the way cider is appreciated. “Not one of our customers has ever rejected cider. In fact, everybody seems to enjoy high quality cider. Cider imports have grown and selection has increased, and it’s become almost difficult to explain all the various styles on the ciders that we have. But now, people can choose a cider that can satisfy their taste and there is always something we can suggest for any type of drinker.” And that is exactly why we appreciate and recommend Kitazawa Konishi for your cider needs. Not only are they thoroughly knowledgeable about the brands they carry, they also genuinely enjoy sharing what they know with others. Before social distance restrictions were implemented, Kitazawa Konishi also allowed customers to drink their purchases inside the shop, adding yet another reason to visit, but until that changes, we strongly encourage you to make them your takeaway cider shop of choice. Oh, and if it just so happens that you are a Star Wars fan, then you have an entirely other incentive to seek them out – one that we will kindly let you discover on your own (hint: they are, too). Kitazawa Konishi. Get there as soon as you can and wish them a Happy 90th. Do. Or do not. There is no try. Kitazawa Konishi’s hours of operation: Saturday: 11:00～22:00 Sunday: 11:00～21:00 Monday through Friday: 16:00～22:00 Tuesday: Closed KITAZAWA KONISHI 〒155-0032 Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Daizawa 5-28-16 TEL: 03-3421-0932 https://kitazawakonishi.com
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