The Daikanyama Neighborhood
When exploring Daikanyama, it is easy to understand why it is often branded “Little Brooklyn”. Much like the borough of Brooklyn in New York, Daikanyama combines a perfect balance and harmony between elements of modernity and serenity, yet also a stylish ruggedness in certain areas. Having visited New York earlier this year, the similarities are striking. If you take a step back from the bright lights and busy crossroads of Times Square and Shibuya crossing you’ll often stumble across calmer suburbia. Daikanyama is a typical case in point. But Daikanyama is unique in its own little way, exuding elegance, refined quality and chicness. It is amazing to think that this relaxed and sleepy backwater is just a 10 minute walk from Shibuya crossing, the giant heartbeat of Tokyo, known for having the biggest pedestrian intersection in the world. This article will hopefully provide a valued insight into the style of Daikanyama, suggesting things to do and explaining why it is a gem within Japan’s bustling capital and is a must-visit for those visiting Tokyo.
Removed from all the high rise and intensity of Tokyo’s centre lays the stylish and sophisticated area of Daikanyama. Scattered with contemporary and quaint coffee shops and restaurants, fashionable boutique stores and art galleries, it is the perfect place for a day of exploration and inspiration. Why don’t you mosey on down?
Daikanyama, like most places in Tokyo is very easy to get to due to the advanced transportation system in place. If you choose to take a walk from Shibuya station this will only take ten minutes. You walk parallel to the train tracks passing under iron bridges with many restaurants and bars located underneath. You can also get the train to Daikanyama directly, located on the Tokyu Toyoko line (it’s only one stop away from Shibuya). When stepping off the train at Daikanyama station, you are immediately greeted with tranquillity and style – a very different story to the walk alongside the the rail way tracks.
So, what is there to do and where are the best places to go?
What to Do….
The first thing you must do when visiting Daikanyama is stop off at Tsutaya bookstore located at the Daikanyama T-site. This is just a short walk from the station. Even if you’re not a book nerd, the bookstore has two stories, enclaved with a variety of art, fashion and music sections. It even has a chic lounge/bar on the second floor called the Anjin Library and Lounge, where you can enjoy a coffee, browse a punk rock magazine from the 70’s that you stumbled upon downstairs whilst relaxing and enjoying the stylishly designed lounge. The bar itself has a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere and is a perfect place to chill out when in Daikanyama. Whether you’re interested in film, music, art, fashion, world literature, or simply whether you fancy a coffee and some wifi, it is essential you visit this spot, perusing not only the wide ranging literary collection but also the depths of its unique and international collection of offerings. You could spend hours in here and not get bored, please do visit!
If you fancy a walk, Saigoyama park is located nearby and is perfect for a sunny day.
Where to Shop….
Take a walk through Daikanyama’s pedestrianised side streets and I promise you you’ll find yourself peering into most shops you pass. Daikanyama is home to a variety of different stores; art galleries, interior design shops, independent boutique stores, vintage shops and high-end retailers. For those with an interest in culture, it’s worth visiting a charming store called Journey. I couldn’t quite work out what Journey was when I visited. It’s very much a combination between gallery and store, having bohemian memorabilia on show from the outside, with a range of clothing and accessories on the inside. Even just for a look, it’s a sweet place to visit.
There is also a host of many well known and high end retailers in the area, such as French brand A.P.C and British fashion retailer Paul Smith. And for all the cool kids out there, don’t worry, there is a Stussy, and yes, you guessed it, a Supreme store!
Where to Eat….
The Ivy Place is located right next to T-Site (where the Tsutaya book store is located). Whilst personally not being able to vouch for how good the dinner and lunch are there, the breakfast was quite incredible. They serve a range of foods for whatever you fancy at that time (pancakes, avocado on toast, salmon and eggs etc etc etc). The staff were extremely friendly and the service was brilliant. I’d certainly recommend popping here for a bite to eat.
If you fancy the best sandwich in Tokyo or maybe even a light salad and smoothie, go visit the guys at King George Sandwich bar. They’re super cool and they look after you well! The King George deli is located just off the main road in Daikanyama. The sandwiches are between 1,400 and 1,900 Yen, but are well worth it. I’d recommend ‘The Meat Head’, filled with Turkey and Pastrami, Cheddar cheese and jalapeno’s all squeezed in on some dark rye bread. If the weathers nice, it also has a terrace that you can enjoy whilst munching on the fattest filled sandwich Tokyo has to offer!
I was too excited and occupied tucking into my sandwich that I actually forgot to take a picture of my meal, so here’s a picture taken from their instagram to give you a taste of what you can expect. Also, check them out on Instagram – @kinggeorgedeli
For your very own slice of New York, make sure you head down to Pizza Slice for some authentic New York styled pizza. You can grab a slice for 500 Yen, or for those with eyes bigger than their belly, you can grab a 20 inch pizza for a decent price. The lunch set menu includes two slices and a drink for just 1000 Yen. Not only is it the best pizza in Tokyo, but the vibes inside are perfect. Cool design, cool people and beautiful pizza. Check it out @pizza_slice_tokyo
“ink. By Canvas Tokyo” operates under the idea of being an open concept store – aiming to create a base for people, things and events. They serve an array of coffees, such as your standard Americano or Flat White as well as 6 colourful coffees including a Red Velvet Latte. Food is also on offer, with the Pulled Pork Burger being the obvious show-stopper. Follow them on Instagram @canvas_tokyo_ink
Daikanyama is potentially my favourite area of Tokyo. Its eclectic mix of people, shops and restaurants, as well as its relaxed and suburban ambience makes it one of Tokyo’s greatest hidden gems. After returning home after a visit to Daikanyama, you will immediately want to go back. It’s a beautiful distraction from the usual hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and leaves one happy, relaxed and inspired. Check it out.