Looking for LOHAS in Shimokitazawa

LOHAS, or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, is a movement wherein people take a careful look at how they live and the impact their existence has upon the planet. Here in the urban sprawl of Tokyo, it’s alive and growing, with shops catering to consumers with a heightened sense of responsibility for their actions.

When a possible client for my photography asked for LOHAS-related images, I realized it was one area somewhat under-represented in my portfolio, so I set off today by bicycle, (appropriately enough, I suppose,) to explore Shimokitazawa, a Western suburb of Tokyo, looking for LOHAS.

As the day wound down, I found myself at the Nong-min Café and spoke to its owner, Mr. Waki, who graciously allowed me to take some photos.

In the garden behind the café, there was a small herb garden, just a couple of square meters, that supplies the shop with fresh herbs.

Written on the stick is “Italian Parsely”.

I spoke with Mr. Waki, the proprietor. He told me about the shop’s two rice paddies outside the city and gave me a tour of the shop.

The first floor café is cool and casual.

Inside a cabinet, the glass teapots and handmade bowls await customers’ orders.

An organic cotton t-shirt proclaims “No Chemicals”.

The shop’s brand includes t-shirts, as well as workwear.

The second floor has two café rooms and an adjoining workroom, complete with sewing machine.

A wooden Buddha sits overlooking the tables in a peaceful customer area.

A cotton boll, a reminder of the connection between the goods in the shop and their natural origins.

An un-dyed organic cotton t-shirt on display.

Herbs grow in pots alongside chalkboards announcing the day’s specials.