Tokyo Neighborhood Guide: Daikanyama / by Shane Henderson

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Like last weeks featured neighborhood, Shimokita, Daikanyama has frequently been touted as the bohemian, hipster-filled Brooklyn of Tokyo. It was previously a quiet residential neighborhood that has had an influx of chic boutiques and eateries in the past ten years. And much like parts of Brooklyn, Daikanyama has moved out of its more bohemian beginnings and is now firmly entrenched in bougie territory. The upscale stores now draw crowds of locals and tourists alike, and on a sunny Sunday you will find the streets packed with well-dressed window shoppers. Although it may no longer be the place to come for discount clothing finds or dive bar drinks, Daikanyama is still one of Tokyo's more charming areas to stroll around, and if you are willing to spend a little extra dough there are plenty of shopping and dining gems to discover. Here are our picks for an afternoon in Daikanyama. 

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Lunch
Japanese food may be the obvious choice for visitors to Tokyo, but it would be a mistake to overlook the amazing restaurants serving other cuisines. As Daikanyama has become more popular with both tourists and expats, a crop of more international restaurants have sprung up. One of the most popular is the adorable sandwich shop, King George. This tiny, light-filled cafe serves a variety of toasted sandwiches and fresh smoothies, and although it's definitely on the expensive side, the large portions and delicious ingredients more than make up for the high price tag. For something a little cheaper but no less delicious, head over to Pizza Slice, a hip New York style pizza joint. Owner and head chef Hiroki Sarumaru has taken the essential elements of a Manhattan pizza parlor (think large cheesy slices, garlic knots, and paper plates ), and combined them with an uber-stylish space and a full bar. 

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Books
After lunch head over to one of the best book stores in Tokyo (and possibly the world), the Daikanyama T-Site. It is a huge store spread out over three beautifully designed buildings with books, stationary, dvds, cds, a stylish bar, a grocery store and a Starbucks. Although they stock all types of books, the main focus is on art, architecture, and design. Peruse books on everything from Norwegian interiors, to Japanese typefaces, to iconic American photography. You could spend hours in the magazine section alone. They have a better selection of independent magazines then any store I have ever seen. And don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese! A lot of the magazines and books are in English.  We heard a lot of hype about this bookstore before visiting and were pretty skeptical, but consider us convinced. We are obsessed with this store and want to live there forever.

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Coffee And Dessert
If you are looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, there are a few great options in the area. Mocha Coffee is one of the best cafes for quality coffee, with bean options from all over the world. They are also one of the few places in Tokyo to serve Middle Eastern coffee. Bondolfi Boncaffe is a large friendly café with comfy outdoor patio seating. Along with coffee, they are known for their seasonal soft serve ice cream served in croissant cones. Yup, you read that correctly, croissant cones. Genius. Alternatively, check out Matsunosuke NY for a mean slice of apple pie. The owner Akiko Hirano spent years living and working in the Northeast US before bringing her pie baking skills back home to Japan.

Shopping
There are a wide range of upscale shops to explore in Daikanyama and it’s easy to find something for everyone. Visit locations of popular brands like Saturday Surf NYC and Fred Segal; local favorites White Mountaineering and B Jirushi Yoshida; or trendy boutiques like Hollywood Ranch Market and Okura. For photographers, the Kitamura Camera Store behind the T-Site is worth a visit. They have a curated selection of cameras, lenses, bags, and accessories to check out.

Dinner
For dinner you can’t go wrong with Spring Valley Brewery which serves up farm-to-table fare and well-paired brews in an expansive, modern space. They have quite a few tasty house brews to choose from, including six standard options and a few seasonal additions. Considering the high price of craft beer in Japan, the brews here are reasonably priced, and the 1000 yen beer flight is an especially good deal.


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