Tokyo Neighborhood Spotlight: What to Do in Daikanyama

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Come to the intimate enclave for the fashion, but stay for the great bookstore.

The European-village-meets–West Hollywood vibe of Daikanyama is a ten-minute walk from the mad pedestrian scramble of Shibuya. The area counts art galleries, jewel-box bars, open-air cafés, and seductive pastry shops among its charms. Low-rise architecture, restaurants hidden in nooks, and an incredible literary complex make for a cozy tableau.

Daikanyama’s biggest draw, besides being one of the most pleasantly wanderable areas in Tokyo, is its array of boutiques—a blend that includes high-fashion, vintage, and cutting-edge. Shop owners are internationally savvy too, providing a larger range of clothing sizes and (for a country where cash is preferred) making a special effort to accept credit cards.


Vive la Fashion!

French store names? Mais oui—yet each place is rooted in Japanese sensibility. Honoré (26-8 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; press.innocent.co.jp) offers classic French marine motifs tailored more femininely. The flagship store of 5351 Pour Les Hommes et Les Femmes (28-2 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; abahouse.co.jp) concentrates on simply cut basics in subtle earth tones. Maison Kitsuné (20-14 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; shop.kitsune.fr), founded by Frenchman Gildas Loaec and Japanese-born, Paris-raised Masaya Kuroki, deserves a visit just for its design. Opened in February, the two-story space was built as an homage to the 1960s Hotel Okura, controversially razed last year. In between perusing the wooden racks of a quirky mix of Japanese and French-influenced men’s and women’s clothing, take note of the tremendous Japanese carpentry, all by local artisans. Merci Beaucoup (19-7 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; mercibeaucoup.jp), part of Issey Miyake’s group of labels, meanwhile, focuses on a more whimsical—some would say kawaii (cute)—aesthetic. Right next door, the canvas, nylon, and leather bags, including those from Japanese brands Porter and Beams, at B Jirushi Yoshida (19-6 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; bjirushi.com) dangle from a conveyor belt across the ceiling. For the kids, try newly opened Leave Me Alone (20-13 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; fith.co.jp) and British-inspired Caramel (Hillside Terrace C, 29-10 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; caramel-shop.co.uk).


Home and Design

The Japanese adore tenugui, lightweight cotton hand towels, and Kamawanu (23-1 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; kamawanu.co.jp) has an outstanding collection made using the chusen dyeing technique, with patterns incorporating hidden pictorial puns or fortuitous symbols. For larger canvases, Art Front Gallery (29-18 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; artfrontgallery.com), in architect Fumiko Maki’s 1967 Hillside Terrace Complex, consistently shows the work of innovative conceptual artists. Nearby Cherry Terrace (29-9 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; cherryterrace.co.jp) sells an array of international designer tableware and kitchen utensils, and Daikanyama’s backstreets are perfumed by a newly renovated location of Florence-based Dr. Vranjes Home Fragrances (26-9 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; drvranjes.com). Explore the tea garden at Kyu Asakura House (29-20 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; city.shibuya.tokyo.jp), a well-preserved Taisho-era (1912–26) estate once enjoyed by Torajiro Asakura, then chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly.


Where to Eat

Across two garden terraces, Ivy Place (16-15 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; tysons.jp) serves all day long, offering items from pancakes to flatbread pizzas to grilled swordfish. There is no shortage of coffee spots. A good option is Aso, an Italian restaurant that shares a space with Caffè Michelangelo (29-3 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; hiramatsurestaurant.jp) under a lovely tile roof. Or sip an espresso on the back terrace of men’s activewear and surfwear shop Saturdays NYC (Daikanyama 4BLD 1F, 1-5-2 Aobadai, Meguro-ku; saturdaysnyc.com). In the late afternoon, over at Pachon (29-18 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; pachon.co.jp), you might find head chef André Pachon dozing in a chair under the trees in the courtyard. The restaurant’s dining room has an open fireplace, roasting spit, and legendary cassoulet. Finally, brothers Yui and Lui Shirako lead with their seafood at Cedros (Tradgard Daikanyama D, 1-32-3 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku; cedros.jp). Think sesame-crusted albacore with ponzu foam and jalapeño, or Burrata with fresh lobster and sweet-and-sour peach salsa.


Sweet Stops

Cakes are art at La Boutique Café at Le Cordon Bleu (28-13 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; cordonbleu.edu); for something more local, slip into the back alley at Urara (20-7 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; osteria-urara.jp) for kakigori, shaved-ice desserts with fresh fruit or tea syrups, and organic beers.


Blue on Blue

Japan is synonymous with high-quality denim, and Daikanyama has a few not-to-miss spots. At Ues Clothing Mfg. Co. (26-7-101 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku; ues.co.jp), tailors work on antique sewing machines, hemming new pairs of jeans and repairing old ones. Ues (pronounced “wess”) is derived from the word waste, which the company aims to reduce by creating jeans made to last. Tip: Ues usually stamps the leather label of your jeans with your purchase date; ask for a memorable date instead.

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