Very much like Omotesando and Nakameguro, Daikanyama is an affluent playground. Once the coolest neighborhoods in the land its stock has fallen somewhat in recent years but it’s still one of the areas for social climbers and trust-funders. To be honest it lacks any kind of soul nowadays but it does have a few wee charming spots which make it worth a visit if you’re in the Shibuya area. Basically located at the top of Shibuya’s Dogenzaka street Daikanyama is easy enough to get to on foot or on the Tokyu Toyoko line from Shibuya if you can be bothered.
It smells of money in this area – in the designer stores, boutiques, pastry shops and Michelin starred restaurants. It has a pseudo-Parisien feeling and the locals strut their Celine and Issey Miyake as if walking down the Champs-Elysees. It has some good independent boutiques such as Fred Segal and more affordable brands such as A.P.C. also have a presence in the district. It’s all suitably hip but it lacks a little je ne sais quoi.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Lots of little cafes and burger joints and small boutiques. That’s Daikanyama in a nutshell. Nice restaurants too and a cool wee kids fashion store called Bonton is a worth a visit if you have children. It’s all very cool and it has a definite whiff of money and affluence. It’s not a bad thing but if you’re looking for heart and soul then I’m not sure if Daikanyama is for you.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
If you look at Daikanyama in 2016 it’s a far cry from its peak in the late 90s. Smaller area around the city such as Ekoda near Ikebukuro or Sangenjaya offer a fresh perspective of Tokyo-style cafe culture. Of course its proximity to Shibuya will always be a positive for the district but it definitely lacks any kind of vibe or atmosphere. It’s become hopelessly bourgeois and predictable in its middle age.
A few years back celebrated local architects Klein Dytham designed the now famous Daikanyama T-Site. The site is three interlocked buildings dominated by the Japanese rental video chain Tsutaya. This ain’t no video shop, however, as it’s the company’s foray into book dealing. Thousands of titles in various languages alongside DVDs, CDs, coffee shops and much more it’s a culture vulture’s wet dream. It even has it’s own cocktail lounge if you feel like getting shit-faced while you read. T-Site dominates Daikanyama nowadays and it’s one of the primary reasons for visiting the area. There’s also the ubiquitous craft brewery in the area. Spring Valley Brewery opened up and includes a gastropub on the premises so you can tipple straight from the source and eat specially paired food.
YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
It has a well-known cafe culture so it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in Daikanyama’s streets and plop yourself down for a flat white and some of the fancy pastries the area is famous for. King George is a popular hangout for locals due to its healthy sandwiches and smoothies. And if you’re in the mood for some Michelin starred sustenance then Ristorante Aso is an Italian restaurant worth visiting in the area.