Trendy cafes and designer boutiques greet you at every turn, with an occasional touch of cutesy edge that reminds you firmly that you are in Japan, Daikanyama is the one local place you should explore to really be in touch the the local hip crowd scene. With so many interesting boutiques and shops and stylish cafes to visit, where should you start?
What to See in Daikanyama
The most prominent landmark in Daikanyama is the T-Site. The behemoth complex with a clever weaving of trellises of T-shapes representing Tsutaya, seamlessly connects three main buildings though glass bridges. While people all over the world visit it mainly for its award-winning architecture, the interior of Tsutaya is a haven of mountains of books, movies and music. Pockets of seats intersecting bookshelves actively encourages people to lose themselves into the world of books. Even if you don’t understand Japanese, there is still a great selection of English novels and magazines for you to browse.
Tenoha is a beautiful courtyard with restaurants and cafes, and an interior design and traditional handicraft store which is especially enchanting during Christmas with the Christmas decoration and illumination draped around the greenery. It is a place to see and be seen as you lounge in one of the high seats in a roofed table in the patio with a drink in hand.
Log Road, newly opened in 2015, is a retail and dining lane sitting on what was once the train tracks of a part of Tokyo Toyoko line. The appearance of this stretch of land lives up to its name, with the wooden exterior of the shops and luxuriant greenery lining the path in a purposeful overgrown style. With just five stores within the complex, it is not a place for serious shoppers, but the ambience is unsurpassable. You almost feel like you are taking a romantic walk in the park with all the expanse of shrubs and trees around you.
Shopping in Daikanyama
Shopping in Daikanyama is an experience in itself, as the immaculate streets are not only lined with quirky shops and designer boutiques, there are even beautiful complexes designed to make shopping feel almost like a walk in an art gallery. And if you look carefully enough, beyond the mainstream fashion stores, you will be able to find some interesting gems.
For a unique fashion with a touch of age-old tradition, Okura is the place to go. The shop specializes in using traditional Japanese methods to dye its products in natural indigo dye, and is located in an old Japanese-style warehouse, which can be easily missed as it bears no signboard, but that only adds to the ancient atmosphere of the place. Step into the shop and you will be welcome by everything in a beautiful deep blue, from jeans to t-shirts and scarves.
Kamawanu is yet another store that gives a modern twist to Japanese traditions. You can find handmade Tenugui (Japanese hand towels made from dyed cotton cloth) in Kamawanu, which has over 200 different seasonal and even limited offer designs. Within the shop you can even find instructions on how to use the hand towels, and you will be amazed by the sheer number of things you can do with a tiny towel, ranging from practical uses such as wrapping an ice-cold bottle in summer to rehashing it as fashion item like a handle scarf on your bag. While they have several branches in Japan, their flagship store is based in Daikanyama, so be sure to visit this enchanting shop full of the old charm of Japan and buy a couple towel with your partner!
For fashion-forward couples looking for a truly current style of Japan, you can’t miss Rootote, a brand specializing in tote bags, with a signature spacious zipped “Roo Pocket” for the storage of your most precious belongings. Their designs range from simple chic to Tokyo-style outrageous, and what’s more, you can even customize your very own tote bag to take home with you! This is the time to get creative with your love and get hands on in designing your very own love tote!
Dining in Daikanyama
For the ultimate bibliophilic enjoyment, why not indulge in a cup of tea or even a sip of your favourite cocktail while thumbing through the pages of a book in Anjin Library and Lounge? The state-of-the art lounge with its formally dressed butler-like waiters, ornate paintings, and an impressive collection of vintage books surrounding cushy sofas promises to give you an afternoon of rich pleasure even as you expand your knowledge.
Those who are looking for more of a garden-themed brunch spot, look no further than Ivy Place, located within T-site complex itself. Famous for their fluffy Classic Buttermilk Pancakes topped with a dose of equally fluffy whipped cream, there is no better place to enjoy your sweets than in the garden terrace where you can enjoy a view of the greenery up close and people-watch. However, as it gets incredibly busy on weekends, you should definitely make an effort to reach early or risk waiting over an hour just for a seat.
And if you are looking for a distinctly European air of romance, head straight to Caffé Michelangelo just across the road from T-site. This popular cafe serves Italian cuisine, with an outdoor Parisian style seating perfect for more people-watching. The interior design is impeccable as well, with tall vaulted ceilings allowing natural skylight to penetrate, and luxurious leather couches giving you a touch of 18th-century Italian style.
And lastly, for couples looking for a stronger option in their choice of drinks, Spring Valley Brewery in Log Road is where you should go. Be prepared to be fascinated by the beer brewing process visible through the clear glass surrounding the large steel tanks while enjoying 6 different kinds of craft beer at a single order. The brewery’s signature “Beer Flight” consists of a lineup of small glasses of different craft beer, with some truly unique beers like the citrusy yuzu and spicy sansho pepper infused beer, “Daydream”.