Daikanyama, Ebisu and Nakameguro

by mjcarney

The great thing about traveling is discovering a new neighborhood or part of town that you absolutely adore and wish you could live there forever and spend your days wandering the streets and eating at the cafes.

Imagine my surprise when I found that place in Japan on my very first morning there. Some friends shared their Tokyo map with starred locations (thanks Nikki and Steve!) of all their favorite places to go. One that caught my eye with its trendy architecture and English name (at least I’m being honest…) was Ivy Place. I put it on the schedule for breakfast on our first day. I could not have been more surprised at it’s ADORABLE neighborhood. It was called Daikanyama, and the streets were littered with cute boutiques and adorable restaurants and trees and small dogs and fancy handbags. Obviously, I was smitten. The winding streets connect you to other cute neighborhoods, Ebisu and Nakameguro, that were all part of the Shibuya ward. It was just a quick walk from the Cerulean hotel (and a direct line from our second hotel) and the streets made for quaint walks and great people watching, both day and night. We visited the area several times over our week and a half in Japan and discovered something new each time.

I hope you don’t mind picture heavy posts, because this one might crush you…
SONY DSC The streets in this area are quiet, without many cars or people. It definitely debunks the Over-Crowded-Tokyo Myth. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Cute buildings in Daikanyama. SONY DSC If you ever get a chance to visit this bookstore, you absolutely must. It’s beautiful. We went one evening, and despite not being able to read most of the books, we were there for more than an hour. It’s actually three stores, connected by overpasses. One was almost entirely devoted to magazines, coffee and cookbooks. Another had a very nice bar, and the third had an amazing music shop. It was total and complete eye candy. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC The Japanese love pancakes. The Japanese and I have this in common. I actually saw a table of girls take a selfie with their pancakes. These are clearly my people. Some breakfast spots actually have queues that go around the corner–just for pancakes! SONY DSC Sweet little Chihuahuas were everywhere. Coco found pictures of them and was sorely pissed off that we didn’t take her. She said she’d been practicing her Japanese for months.  SONY DSC Gorgeous architecture that you never get used to seeing.  SONY DSC SONY DSC Kawaii window displays are everywhere.  SONY DSC SONY DSC Junie Moon! Sam helped me find it! It was such a cute shop! Sadly no pictures were allowed though (I only snuck one).
junie moon 2 junie moon
SONY DSC SONY DSC Trendy Japanese people in the middle of a fashion shoot.  SONY DSC Fashionable onlookers   SONY DSC SONY DSC On the walk to Nakameguro, we passed by the most beautiful park. Perhaps I was just expecting a total concrete jungle, but Tokyo hides beauty around every corner.  SONY DSC Nakameguro is dreamy. Quaint shops and restaurants line the water channel. I hear it’s quite beautiful in the spring with cherry blossoms (which can be said about all of Japan, I’m sure). SONY DSC SONY DSC A Shiba goes for her evening walk. Shibas are, by far, the most popular breed of dog in Japan. They are also one of the world’s oldest breeds.  SONY DSC Weddings are huge in Japan. Especially Western-style weddings. Everywhere you turn, there is an ad with a girl in a white dress or even (on the weekends) a wedding reception. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC This wedding reception looked like so much fun. We might have lingered on the street out front for long enough to be invited in. We declined–I was under dressed ;).
SONY DSC Daikanyama’s quiet, nearly deserted park.   SONY DSC Yakitori is one of the most popular types of food in Japan. It’s basically just bar food. It’s inexpensive, and so so good. You’ll know a Yakitori place by it’s red lanterns out front. Ton de Meguro was particularly delicious–not to mention, cheap! We both had plenty of food and icy draft beer for less than $20! Tokyo also has the reputation for being quite pricey, but I’m going to chalk that right up there with the overcrowded myth, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. (Of course you can spend plenty on a nice dinner, but that’s everywhere.) SONY DSC SONY DSC Mayyyyybe the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I don’t know how they make it so good.  SONY DSC Blythe wasn’t hungry. SONY DSC Chicken Yakitori. They served up all parts of the chicken too! The heart (third from the right) was my least favorite. SONY DSC Daikanyama is so peaceful at night too.  SONY DSC An Evangelical Church in Shibuya.   SONY DSC SONY DSCWe found an awesome burger restaurant called Blacows. They served up gigantic angus beef burgers with spicy, tempura onion rings and pineapple sangria, and it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCWe made our way to another spot recommended by the aforementioned friends, Buri. Like many bars in Tokyo, it is a standing bar, meaning don’t expect to sit down. In many places, even if there are chairs, you aren’t allowed to sit down until after you’ve missed Last Train, signaling that you intend to stay for several more hours. (The concept of the Last Train is incredible to me.)
SONY DSC Holy Frozen Jars of Sake! These things are incredible! Not only are they in kawaii cups, they are also delicious. We ended up stocking up on some before we came home too!
SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Flower shops are everywhere in Tokyo. They are beautiful and smell just like you would imagine.   SONY DSCIvy Place takes on an whole different atmosphere at night and we found ourselves sucked back in for more sangria and pizza and smoked fish and charcuterie ’til our hearts’ content.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCWe ducked into a restaurant for some more draft beer and by the time we were done, people had spilled out onto the street, smoking, laughing and telling stories until it was time to make it to last train.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Just in case you ever think you’ve seen it all… SONY DSC Found a cushy place to rest on this broad’s back