DAY 2 (3/4): A STROLL IN NAKAMEGURO (中目黒) AND DAIKANYAMA (代官山), Tokyo, Japan, 2017.06.15
Only 15 minutes of walk separates Nakameguro (中目黒) and Daikanyama (代官山), two pleasant residential neighborhoods close to Shibuya and Ebisu. Last year in 2016, I made my first visit to Daikanyama, and was immediately captivated by its elegance as an upscale residential and shopping area. This time, we ventured further south towards Meguro River into the neighborhood of Nakameguro. While Nakameguro is not as established as Daikanyama, its charm as a hip and lovely residential and shopping area has become quite well known to both the locals and foreign visitors. Our stroll in Nakameguro and Daikanyama began at Higashi-yama Restaurant, where we had a fine lunch. Then we found our way to the Meguro River, a canal like waterway that used to be an awful stream filled with industrial waste before the 1980s. The fate of Nakameguro changed its course after the government cleaned up the river in the late 1980s. Since then the first group of hipsters moved in, and soon trendy cafes, boutiques and residential developments mushroomed along the Meguro River, and gradually transformed the area into one of the most desirable residential neighborhood in Tokyo. We walked along the river and stopped by a number of shops, before heading over to Sarugakucho (猿楽町) of Daikanyama for a revisit of the magnificent T-Site and the nearby boutiques. Literally means “monkey fun town”, Sarugakucho of Daikanyama is a popular spot in Tokyo simply to enjoy life: unique fashion boutiques, coffee shops, bookstores, hair salons, organic vendors, furniture and design shops, etc.
The Meguro River seems like a canal with peaceful and clear water.
As the government cleaned up Meguro River, the character of Nakameguro was completely transformed into a pleasant residential neighborhood and a concentration of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants.
Many shops along Meguro River are catered to serve the immediate community of local residents, such as hair salons.
Or local eateries…
Considered as one of the star attractions in the area, COW Books in Nakameguro has a charming collection of rare and out-of-print books.
Blue Blue, a unique clothing store owned by Seilin & Co. Hollywood Ranch Market selling a wide range of garments that combines traditional indigo dyeing and contemporary fashion.
Over at Daikanyama, shops are more concentrated in a clusters of narrow streets of Sarugakucho near T-Site, the famous Tsutaya Bookstore and its garden of shops. UES Jeans is a small boutique that sells high quality denim. They believe a garment should be fully used till the end of the product’s life. The name “UES” is derived from the word “waste”, with reference to the Japanese habit of reusing old clothes for dust cloths at the end of the garment’s life.
Designed by architect Akihisa Hirata in 2007, Sarugaku is a cluster of six commercial blocks surrounding a valley-like courtyard in a narrow site.
At Sarugakucho, we couldn’t resist to check out Okura (オクラ), one of the most popular boutiques in the area. Under the same mother company as Nakameguro’s Blue Blue, Okura is renowned for their garments that perfectly combine traditional indigo dyeing and tailor techniques with contemporary fashion trends and functions.
Maison Kitsune is another unique boutique in Sarugakucho. Maison Kitsune represents a success story of international collaboration. It is founded by French electornic musician Gildas Loaec and Japanese architect Masaya Kuroki, in an attempt to create a brand under the intertwining influences of music and fashion. “Kitsune” is the Japanese word for “fox”, representing a character of versatility and the power of changing appearance.
Our brief afternoon walk of Daikanyama ended at the T-Site, the garden retail complex behind Tsutaya Bookstore.
Other than Tsutaya Bookstore, the stylish restaurant Ivy Place is the main focus in the T-Site.
At the T-Site, the primary attraction is definitely the Tsutaya Bookstore. It was our second time to visit this beautiful bookstore. Similar to my first visit a year ago, we were delighted to find that every corner of the complex was enjoyed by customers of all sorts.
To us, Tsutaya and the T-Site represents an ideal venue to spend a Sunday afternoon.
It was getting dark as we left Daikanyama. We leisurely walked back to our hotel in Shibuya to take a little break before dinner.
LIBRARY IN THE WOODS, Tsutaya Bookstore, Daikanyama (代官山), Tokyo (東京), Japan
Named by some books and magazines as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the T-Site by Tsutaya Books is the biggest attraction in the affluent neighborhood of Daikanyama (代官山). Designed by Tokyo firm Klein Dytham Architecture in collaboration with communication and graphic designer Kenya Hara and designer Tomoko Ikegai, the T-Site is an architectural gem in Tokyo. A web-like facade system resembles a layer of white lace wrapping the three box-like buildings. Intended to create a “Library in the Woods”, the three bookstore buildings is connected by a 55m “Magazine Street” on the ground floor and surrounded by lush green vegetation. A cafe is provided on the ground floor with views of the outdoor greenery. A more upscale lounge is located on the upper level surrounded by bookshelves holding different series of architectural and design magazines. Other than books, stationery merchandise are also impeccably displayed under atmospheric lighting. While we were there, T-Site was full of shoppers. Compared to many bookstores around the world struggling to survive in today’s digital era, T-Site is certainly a great success story.
The approach to the entrance of the T-Site resembles a short walk to a garden pavilion.
The web-like facade system resembles a layer of lace fabric made of uncounted “T”.
Outdoor spaces between the three bookstore buildings serve as garden courtyards, offering pleasant green views for the interior.
Covered with vertical strips of highly reflective stainless steel, the bridge linking the bookstore buildings appears like a sculptural feature of the architecture.
The vertical strips of the bridge match perfectly well with the lace-like wall cladding.
The shadows of the strips offer an interesting experience while crossing the bridge from one building to the other.
The green view outside and the reflected scenery on the strips create a compelling imagery like an abstract painting.
Seating in the bookstore offer various pleasant spots for visitors to enjoy a moment of peaceful reading.
There is a garden behind the three bookstore buildings. A cluster of interesting shops scatter in the garden, including a camera shop, organic eateries and lifestyle stores.
The T-Site garden is full of planting.
Outdoor sculpture can also be found in the garden as well.
We couldn’t resist but get a bowl of organic vegetable soup from an vending truck.
WAY OF LIVING, Daikanyama (代官山), Tokyo (東京), Japan
Often regarded as the Brooklyn of Tokyo, the highly fashionable and pleasant Daikanyama (代官山) is much more than just an affluent urban neighborhood. Just a short walk south of the world’s busiest intersection Shibuya (渋谷) crossing, Daikanyama is a totally different world: Sleek cafes or sleepy bistros with a few tables, stylish boutiques and intimate denim shops housed in traditional timber houses, lovely design, camera and music shops, and the exquisite T Site, the flagship bookstore by Tsutaya Books. A brief stroll in Daikanyama shall make one to contemplate on the way of living and the question on what’s the most desirable lifestyle one possible lead.
From Ebisu (恵比寿) Station, we found our way into a series of lanes heading towards Daikanyama (代官山).
We weren’t in a hurry and preferred to wander in the quiet residential streets. With its bohemian atmosphere, Daikanyama (代官山) is a great place to visit on foot.
In this affluent neighborhood, some of the houses and shops are interestingly designed according to the character of the owner. Judging from the exterior appearance of the architecture, one might make a fine guess on what kind of person the owner could be.
The neighborhood is sleepy, clean, quiet and relaxing. We finally made our way back out to the beautiful Kyu Yamate Dori (旧山手通り), a tree lined avenue dotted with greenery, boutiques and foreign embassies.
Buildings along Kyu Yamate Dori (旧山手通り) are quite low key. This highly reflective building facade introduces the colour palette from the blue sky and white clouds.
Some owner prefers to dress up the ild building with street art.
The Kyu Yamate Dori (旧山手通り) is a full of lush green vegetation.
Full of pleasant courtyards and atmospheric cafe, Hillside Terrace (ヒルサイドテラス) is an intimate shopping complex off the Kyu Yamate Dori (旧山手通り).
Maison Kitsune, a fashion boutique with the Parisian mood, occupies a former timber house.
We loved Okura (オクラ), a intimate boutique selling various kinds of clothing and denim made from traditional dyeing process.
Tenoha Daikanyama is a cool courtyard complex with a fantastic lifestyle shop, Italian restaurant and bar, and an Italian cafe.
All shops and restaurants at Tenoha open out to the central courtyard where visitors can enjoy the sun in a garden setting.
The Italian restaurant has a large open kitchen and a proper pizza oven, and big windows out to the central courtyard.
Another interesting retail cluster in Daikanyama is Logroad. Logroad is a 220m pathway of shops and restaurants converted from a former railway track.
The scale at Log Road is intimate. The entire place is relaxing as if arriving at a wooden cottage away from the city.
Greenery is everywhere in Log Road. There aren’t too many shops, but the atmosphere is quite laid back.
The architecture is boxes cladded with vertical timber sidings.
The path of Log Road extends out to a roof terrace at one end, overlooking the surrounding residential neighborhood.
There are enough greenery and public furniture at Log Road to offer an intimate garden setting for most visitors.