The Neighborhood // Daikanyama

The Neighborhood // Daikanyama

One of the biggest misconceptions about Tokyo is that it's all crowds, concrete and neon lights. While you can certainly find those things here, there's more to Japan's capital than Lost in Translation would lead you to believe. Tokyo is chockfull of quiet nooks worthy of your travel checklist, and to kick off my new neighborhood series on the blog, I'm sharing my favorite and the one I call home: Daikanyama.

Artsy, sophisticated and intimidatingly hip, Daikanyama is often likened to Manhattan's SoHo district - albeit a quieter, subdued version. Littered with open-air cafes and trendy upscale boutiques, this neighborhood is largely a weekend destination for Tokyoites looking to while away a Saturday sipping cold-pressed juice and shopping for high-end fashion. What drew me to Daikanyama was its relaxed vibe, tree-lined streets and unbelievable eateries. Amazingly, this suburbia-like oasis is just a 20-minute walk from the world's busiest intersection (aka, the Shibuya Scramble). Read on for my recommendations on what to see and where to eat, drink and shop in DKY!

Note: This travel guide is available as a GPS-enabled map with offline navigation. Click here to download the guide and receive turn-by-turn walking directions between sights -  no data plan or WIFI required!  

// A PHOTO TOUR //

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You'll often see employees treating denim outside the Denham store. 

You'll often see employees treating denim outside the Denham store. 

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Cherry blossoms in Saigoyama Park.

Cherry blossoms in Saigoyama Park.

The High! Standard storefront.

The High! Standard storefront.

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Interlocking T's on the exterior of the Daikanyama T-Site.

Interlocking T's on the exterior of the Daikanyama T-Site.

A section of "Magazine Street" at the Daikanyama T-Site.

A section of "Magazine Street" at the Daikanyama T-Site.

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Log Road Daikanyama.

Log Road Daikanyama.

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Bikes are part of the product assortment at Fred Segal Japan.

Bikes are part of the product assortment at Fred Segal Japan.

Daikanyama Station.

Daikanyama Station.

View of the Tokyo Tower from Hacienda del Cielo.

View of the Tokyo Tower from Hacienda del Cielo.

// EAT + DRINK //

Monkey Cafe for coffee with a side of art. The lower level of this modern cafe serves as a gallery space and pop-up shop. With free WIFI and ample seating, the Monkey is also a great place to post up with your laptop (I live across the street and can often be found here working on my blog). Just don't expect to have your coffee before 10AM - this is Tokyo, after all.

King George for the best sandwiches in Tokyo, hands down. If it's a nice day, ask to sit on their rooftop! I'm obsessed with their avocado-stuffed veggie sando served on hearty sesame bread.

Cedros for American-style seafood in an intimate setting. Run by two Japanese-American brothers, the restaurant is named after the San Diego street they once called home. Order the lobster risotto and check out their wine list!

Slice for Insta-famous New York-style pizza. This is probably the only place in Japan serving garlic knots. 

Henry's Burger for 100% wagyu beef burgers. The restaurant owner, who spent time living in California, seems to have modeled his simplistic menu after the golden state's reigning burger king, In-N-Out. Your only options here are a single or double hamburger, served with fries and a drink. It's a four seat restaurant, so take your wagyu to-go.

Ivy Place for early morning dining. If you're jet lagged or craving a Western breakfast, this is your spot. One of the few places in Tokyo where you can sit down for a meal at 7AM!

Grigio for Italian small plates and everything there is to love about Japanese restaurant design. Opt for the cozy counter seats where you can watch your meal being prepared. We've never been disappointed by anything on the menu, and their wines by the glass are a great value.

Garden House Crafts for a California-style delicatessen. This place kills it in the salad arena (a dish that's hard to find in Japan). Try their Kale Salad with Avocado and Spicy Tahini Dressing or the Pork Belly Bahn Mi Salad. It's also worth a visit to sample their mouthwatering baked goods and desserts.

Blue Star Donuts for brioche-style treats with a Japanese twist. This is the first international location for the Portland-born donut chain. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I typically eat here once a week (and if they don't bring back the Mandarin Orange Black Sesame flavor, I might die).

Surf Saturdays NYC for espresso and surf culture. There's also a great deck out the back where you can relax and enjoy a view of the city.

Hacienda del Cielo for rooftop cocktails, wine and beer. The Mexican fare here isn't impressive (to someone who's lived in Texas, Arizona and California), so I wouldn't recommend eating. Come for drinks and the view

LB8 for happy hour. They always have interesting wines on the menu at great prices. The focus here is on grilled dishes and while everything is good, be sure to order the Bacon Cheddar Milk Biscuits with Maple Butter.

Weekend Garage for lounging and live music. This aptly named restaurant feels and looks like an open garage, featuring live bands at night. By day, its spacious interior and beer garden make it a great place to hang out. There's a little bit of everything on the menu, from hamburgers to noodles.

Matsunosuke NY for American apple pie and pancakes (all the rage in Japan). A great place to relax after a day of exploring DKY. 

// SHOP //

{Disclaimer: I rarely buy clothes in Tokyo, for two reasons: 1) it's insanely expensive, and 2) Japanese clothes are not constructed for curvy bodies. The below recommendations are stores I actually shop at and enjoy visiting for their unique concept and product offering.}

Okura for lust-worthy indigo-dyed Japanese wares. I love visiting this earthy, bohemian shop housed in a beautiful old building. If you like the vibe here, check out Bombay Bazar in the basement next door for a bite to eat.

Daikanyama T-Site for a book store that will blow your mind. I can get lost here for hours thumbing through all the periodicals on their 60-yard long "Magazine Street." Comprised of three interconnected buildings, the T-Site houses a seemingly endless offering of books, music, stationary and movies. There's even a lounge where you can enjoy a cocktail while perusing vintage magazines from the 60's and 70's. Try not to spend all your money here.

Hollywood Ranch Market for retro casual wear. If you can get past its cheesy name, the Hollywood Ranch Market should be added to your shopping list for denim, tees and indie fashion. Although the store's roots are in vintage American goods, they also produce their own labels. Like most retail in Japan, the menswear offering here is far superior to the womenswear. Ladies, if you aren't afraid of purchasing from the men's section (I'm not), don't miss this place. It feels a bit like thrifting, in a good way.

Carboots for vintage European apparel, shoes, accessories and trinkets. I'm always popping into this shop to scope out the newest arrivals - my last purchase was a 1970's hand knit sweater from France. They even have a loyalty points card for frequent shoppers! 

Fred Segal for designer duds and a food truck. The Tokyo outpost of this Southern California retail institution is housed in the wood-clad Log Road complex, a gorgeous shopping and dining center built on the site of the former Tokyu Toyoko railway tracks. In addition to both a men's and women's shop, there's a vintage food truck that rotates its menu offering seasonally. Another reason to go? The aforementioned Blue Star Donuts is located in The Mart at Fred Segal, which also hawks coffee and various home goods.

// SEE //

Saigoyama Park for lush green space, hilltop views and - if you're visiting in springtime - cherry blossoms.

Kyu Asakura House for a peek into a traditional Japanese home, constructed in 1919.

// GETTING HERE //

Daikanyama's namesake station is served by the Tokyu Toyoko line (accessible by local train only). It's one stop from Shibuya Station to the north and Naka-Meguro Station to the south. The neighborhood is also walking distance from Ebisu station.

I'm constantly discovering something new in Daikanyama, so I'll keep this post updated with favorites as I find them!

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