Daikanyama is one of my all time favourite hangouts in Tokyo. It’s low rise and boutiquey like Nakameguro but all higher-end. The boutiques are generally less independent, featuring subtly some big western brands like Paul Smith and Replay in amongst the Japanese stores, but the whole setting is very civilised and a delight to experience. It would be a real shame to miss this area if visiting Tokyo, not only is it a lovely place to spend an afternoon but it provides a totally different and wonderful perspective on the city to the likes of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza etc.
The heart of Daikanyama is a beautiful pedestrian area called T-Site for which Tokyo’s Klein Dytham Architecture won an award at the World Architecture Festival. The area is built around Tsutaya (that’s where the ‘T’ comes from) but also features some great restaurants and shops, details below:
Tsutaya is a chain of bookshops in Japan, however this one is special, very special. Featuring in lists of the world’s most beautiful bookshops, much time can be whiled away experiencing this Tsutaya. Considering the digitalisation of books, music, movies etc. causing dips in sales of this type of media, this place inspires you to return to the older school formats. It spans 3 connected buildings, with sections covering all ranges of interests.
This place has the added bonus of having some immaculate baby changing and private feeding facilities.
Upstairs in the middle section of Tsutaya, there is a wonderfully luxurious and calming cafe/restaurant called Anjin. It’s open till the wee areas, so if sans tot it’s a great spot for a glass of wine. With small tot, they have very comfy sofas to lounge on with a coffee in the early afternoon. I used to meet a friend there when our wee ones were very wee, not sure I would take my now toddler there however since it’s a very peaceful spot where folks often go to work. Worth walking through at least.
Serving up an eclectic menu of quality western fare in a beautiful setting, Ivy Place is a sister restaurant of TY Harbour Brewery in Tennouzu (another great eatery but not a huge amount else to do in the nearby vicinity). As such, it’s worth tasting one of the beers off the menu, the Pale Ale was my favourite.
This is a very popular spot where reservations are recommended, although frustratingly the area of this restaurant which can accommodate tots does not accept reservations. A favourite before we had our wee one, I became disheartened by the wait times for lunchtimes where if you can get in they have lovely outdoor seating with sofas, perfect for very little ones. However, they actually have a very good call back system for those on the waiting list that doesn’t require you to stand in line, so once I realised this my strategy changed. I would visit the restaurant as soon as I arrived in Daikanyama, then go about my business (take wee one for a play in the next door toy shop – Bourneland) until I received a callback when a table became available.
In addition to the sofa seating, they do have highchairs that are open fronted. We would normally sacrifice one or both of our belts to secure the front, also allowing one to eat more, win win.
Bourneland is a chain of high quality toy stores in Japan, this one being conveniently located in T-Site. They also run some amazing big play areas (kid-o-kid) in Yokohama, Kawasaki and a few other locations, but in this store there is just a little play area, with a kitchen, shop, slide and a few other items, perfect for wee tots. They also have a table with some of the items better suited for older tots to trial.
Although only a smallish store, they’ve managed to squeeze in a handy and well kept (as they all are in Japan) changing table and toilet.
In addition to T-Site, Log Road, built on top of the old Tokyu line tracks, is another great spot in the area worth a stroll down. Featuring a few shops and eateries, the highlights for me were:
This is Kirin’s craft brewery. Despite this phrase in itself sounding like an oxymoron, this is a great spot for lunch and maybe even a beer flight, complete with complementing bites. They have a large decking area out front, which if it’s not too hot, or cold, is just lovely.
They do have highchairs, but like in Ivy Place, only the open fronted ones, so for we often resorted to securing these with a belt..
An outlet of this Portland, Oregon gourmet donut joint. Great for a bit of sugar to power through a day’s sightseeing. The creme brûlée donut, complete with a syringe of Couintreau is the winner for the adult contingent of your party.
Kyu Asakura House
At the top of the road leading up to Daikanyama from Nakameguro, you’ll find tucked away a beautiful traditional Japanese house in the midst of the modern architecture. Built in 1919 as a private residence for politician Torajiro Asakura, this is a fine example of traditional Japanese architecture from the Taisho era. Only costing 100 Yen to enter, it’s well worth a visit. You can stroll round the property freely from room to room, rest on the tatami mats and explore the beautifully manicured gardens. A stop here makes for a very relaxing timeout.
If it’s a hot day and you’re in search of an icy treat, then there are 2 joints to try out. For gourmet ice pops, head to Paletas or if ice cream is more your thing, Softree serves up a good cone, complete with a chunk of fresh honeycomb.
Kamawanu is a shop selling ‘Tenugui’ (Patterned rectangular cloths of thin cotton, which can be used as tea towels, kerchiefs, gift wrap etc.) located in a traditional Japanese building in a backstreet of Daikanyama. Great place to pick up gifts and also for a slice of traditional Japan.
Urth Caffe is another restaurant with highchairs in the area, this time the reliable old Ikea Antelope. It’s a branch of an LA joint, serving up fresh sandwiches and other salads delights.
La Fuente on the second floor should excite you if you’re looking for baby and tot stuff. Expensive, but featuring mostly made in Japan clothing and some gorgeous organic cotton baby yukatas. They also having baby changing facilities and private feeding rooms.
If you do have a date night sans tot planned and fancy something tucked away in this area, Cedros was one of our absolute favourites. Their sake glasses sit proudly on our display shelves in memory. Their food is so, so good, lovely staff and intimate atmosphere. We used to visit frequently for brunch at the weekend but unfortunately they are now open only in the evenings.
Map (all locations starred):
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