I spent a week in May remote-working from one of my favorite cities in the world: Tokyo. In this trip, I stumbled upon Daikanyama, one of the residential neighborhood surrounding Shibuya. Daikanyama unexpectedly became one of my favorite areas in Tokyo – I’ll tell you why in this post!
Most of you probably don’t expect this, but yes, I’m still working full-time in Singapore. In a classic Melissa move, I’ve managed to book up all my annual paid leave for the rest of the year. So when my boyfriend suggested we fly to Tokyo for a week, I had to spend my weekdays working remotely. Thankfully, my company allows this!
My traveling style during this trip has changed from my usual style. Usually, I was always on-the-go and always moving, but this time I’ve been taking it slow and parking myself at random cafes around Tokyo. I’m constantly on the hunt for a good place to work from. My criterias are pretty simple (and typical to that of remote-working employees): I don’t mind a bit of noise, but a strong wi-fi and a power plug is a must.
This is when Daikanyama came in – this place is heaven on earth for those working remotely, and perfect for those looking for a slow afternoon. I actually came to Daikanyama for lunch one day without much expectation, but I fell in love with the quiet and relaxed ambiance of this neighborhood that I camped out here a few days in a row.
Daikanyama is only a stone throw away from Shibuya (10 minutes walk to be exact) but it’s a stark contrast from the busy, crowded and at times overwhelming Shibuya. Daikanyama actually encompasses a very small area and you can easily explore it in one day or a few hours – to quote a friend who has spent his whole life in Tokyo: “It’s not even really a place, it’s just this area on the way to other places”.
Despite that, Daikanyama is hardly a hidden gem – it has been featured by major publications and referred to as “The Brooklyn of Tokyo” by Vogue. I’m sure you can guess what you’ll find in Daikanyama – small boutique shops, coffee shops, and trendy restaurants.
So without further ado – here is my short Daikanyama guide, perfect for a lazy afternoon:
1. Log Road
Log Road is an open-air mall and a short walking path that sits on the former rail track of Tokyu-Toyoko line. When the track was moved underground (this is also why you can see a lot of constructions in Shibuya), the area around the track was repurposed into what is now known as Log Road, opened up in 2015 to host restaurants and shops. The road and shops are lined with wood and timber, hence the name Log Road.
2. Garden House Craft
We came across this cafe while wandering around Log Road after having lunch at King George (more on that later). Hands down, Garden House Craft is my favorite place to work from in Daikanyama.
Garden House Craft ticks all my remote-work criteria: it has plenty of seating options (both indoor and outdoor), good coffee, delicious cakes and strong wi-fi. On weekdays afternoon, they are not very busy which is always a huge plus. Aside of a small menu consisting of sandwiches, coffee, and tea. They also have beautiful cakes and delicate cookies to accompany your drink. I tried their Ginger Rose cookie and I loved it so much that I bought more packets to take home.
3. Spring Valley Brewery Tokyo
Just down the Log Road from Garden House Craft is Spring Valley Brewery Tokyo, a restaurant with its own brewery under Kirin, one of Japan’s biggest beer producer. For craft beer lovers, you can get yourself a pint or try their tasting menu, which gives you a sip of their six craft beers. Their food menu is pretty good too albeit a bit pricey. Aside of the ox tongue dish pictured above, we tried a tomato salad dish which looked unassuming but was so delicious that we had to order a second round.
4. King George Sandwich Bar
Who knew I’d find a legit sandwich in Tokyo? At King George, you will. The sandwich shop was opened up by a team of husband and wife in 2013 and named after their cat, King George. The shop occupies the 2nd floor and 3rd floor, plus the rooftop of a small building in the heart of Daikanyama. Their menu consists of mostly sandwiches, smoothies and a selection of beer.
Just how legit are their sandwiches? Check out this photo of The King George Sandwich cross-section. My mouth is watering just thinking of their sandwiches…
A few days after my first visit here, I pretty much begged my boyfriend to go back again because I was just craving the sandwich so badly! What makes King George a huge winner is not just how perfectly cut their sandwiches are – the ingredients they use are always fresh, top notch and they will give you plenty. I was full after one sandwich, but it’s the good kind of full, if you know what I mean.
If you need something to accompany your sandwich, their smoothies are really good too – I got the Acai Smoothie which left me craving for more. On my second visit, I got the Mango smoothie which was good but Acai is still my favorite.
I highly recommend going up to the rooftop if you come here on a good day, and taking a seat in one of their tables up there where you can double up your lunch with some people-watching.
5. Daikanyama T-site
Short for Daikanyama Tsutaya (Tsutaya is Tokyo’s biggest bookstore chain) and undoubtedly the most well-known space in Daikanyama, this place is a must-visit for book lovers, travelers and photographers alike. I don’t read books so I fall more into the latter categories, but I absolutely loved exploring the bookshelves and stacks upon stacks of books.
Aside from being a massive bookstore, this site also provides space for visitors to read, a lounge with vintage reads that serves coffee and alcohol, dedicated floor for movies and music, among many other things.
There is a Starbucks on the ground floor (You’ll see that Tsutaya and Starbucks are often partnered up in Tokyo). Photographers might want to check out the camera specialty store outside of the bookstore, called Kitamura Photo Equipment.
Other notable places in Daikanyama
Since I was mostly occupied during the day, I did not have time to check out more places in Daikanyama. Here are a few that caught my eyes. I will definitely come back for them in the future.
- Urth Caffe – Right across from King George, I saw this cafe when we were having lunch on the rooftop. I lived in LA for awhile so this immediately caught my attention! And sure enough, this is the very same Urth that has become an iconic trademark in LA, mostly known for their organic coffee and fine teas.
- Milk. Black. Lemon. – I spotted this place as we were walking to Shibuya, but what really caught my eyes were their retail design. The interior looks very stylish with some cocoon swing chair and a red accent wall.
- Tempu Shibuya – I love hole-in-the-wall places and Tempu definitely got my attention because of that. They seem to be well known for Takoyaki, which is more well-known in Osaka than Tokyo.
- Osteria Urara – This place is right next to Tempu, and seems to be very popular with locals. I can guess from the name that they serve Italian food, and some easy google searches proved it right. I reckon this would be a nice place to have an easy weekday dinner.
- WGT Weekend Garage Tokyo – This is another place I spotted as I was walking over to Shibuya. It looks like a cozy space to enjoy easy drinks while being serenaded by a live band!
Alright, that’s all I have on Daikanyama. If you have a free day in Tokyo, I highly recommend checking out this area.
If you are currently in Tokyo and wondering what there is to do, you can check out my Tokyo Guide here.
Until next time!