Darlings! I’m back with another Tokyo Journal. You’ve followed me to the bustling Akihabara, Asakusa and go crazy shopping in Shibuya; and today we’ll have an exciting schedule: unwinding ourselves from all the city’s hustle and bustle in the hip and quiet neighborhood of Daikanyama (coffee is scheduled here), then we’ll continue up high in the air to view the panorama of the whole metropolis from above in Roppongi Hills, before ending the day with the most authentic dinner experience in the old remnants of Tokyo’s World War II era in Shinjuku. Sounds epic? Then let’s start our journey to Daikanyama, Roponggi Hills, Tokyo City View and Memory Alley!
Tokyo’s hip and quirky neighborhood of Daikanyama is pretty much the opposite of the bright neon-lit Shibuya or kawaii Harajuku, though it’s only a mere 15 minutes away from the busy intersection. We spent an afternoon strolling this calm, upscale residential neighborhood filled with small boutiques, open-air cafes, art spaces and bookstores, and found a lot of treasures tucked in every corner.
Owner Hussein Ahmed and his Japanese wife brew the beans in this small, glass-sided space with only a few tables. When you sit and taste your coffee (served inside lovely delicate cups), you’ll know that the couple started this business with passion. Using 100% hand-picked beans from Yemen, this little coffee haven will bring you a slice of far off lands.
On a sunny day, natural light floods into the shop. The natural and simple setting makes the place perfect for an afternoon intimate chat with a friend. Unlike a bigger coffee chains where it tends to be hectic, crowded and noisy, Mocha Coffee offers a quiet moment when you can unplug, relax, and recharge yourself with a cup of (really good, hand dripped) coffee before hitting the road again. For coffee lovers who enjoy rare brews, this is definitely a stop to make.
25-1 Sarugakuchō, Shibuya-ku
In a perfect world, all bookshops would be like this emporium; spread across three buildings. Be ready to lost hours looking through all the selections, Tsutaya-site have amazing collection of art, fashion and photography books; both in Japanese and English titles. Try to find your favorite magazines here too as they have impressive stocks of back issues. But really, Daikanyama T-Site is more than just a bookstore. This art gallery-like bookstore has something for everyone from stationery store where you can purchase Japan-made, unique writing materials, as well as a travel center that can assist you with personally tailored trips.
I never had the time to take photos inside the Tsutaya bookshop, because I was always too busy browsing pages after pages (and come out with too many books my luggage allowance permits). But here are a few gorgeous photos from the Klein Dytham’s official website, the architect behind the great building:
17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku
Browsing music here is much more relaxing than the big mega-music stores around the city. You can almost always score something from their comprehensive stock of CDs (and audio cassettes!) , ranging from mainstream to more obscure music. You can also get the one-of-a-kind gifts for the people back home such as t-shirts, accessories, small leather goods, and Bonjour Records own apparels. Surely beat the Tokyo t-shirts in the tourist shops.
24-1, Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku
Ok, I just HAD TO include my favorite beauty store in this list. Cosme Kitchen is all natural, cruelty free beauty supplies shop, with the shop just right on the exit of Daikanyama Station. Here, not only you can browse your favorite organic skincare (and haircare, dental care, household cleaning) products, you can also have a cup of certified 100% organic juice/smoothie/detox/superboost at their juice bar right next to the shop.
Cosme Kitchen Juicery offers an all-round organic and eco-friendly experience, right down to the plant based ‘plastic’ cups and their paper straws. Even the ink used on the labelling is made from soy.
19-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
As the sun was beginning to go down, we took a bus to Shibuya Station, where we transferred to another bus heading to Roppongi Hills. As you my loyal readers might know, I am a sucker for observation decks. Whenever there’s a tall building/tower, I would climb it (or actually, I’ll take the elevator to the highest floor. But ‘climbing’ sounds more badass). I don’t know why but bird-eye vantage points always brings out the best on my travel photos.
Mori Tower Observation Deck
Mori Tower is the 6th tallest building in Tokyo and is a located in Roppongi Hills. Mori Tower is one of many buildings in Tokyo that offers an observatory deck, but what makes this observation deck my favorite in the city is: 1. the height (52th floor) and, 2. more importantly, it’s within a perfect distance from the landmark Tokyo Tower (the red ‘Eiffel’ tower) that makes the view of the whole city stunning. I always had the typical picture of the skyscrapers with the red Tokyo Tower in mind and this is exactly the place where I can get this view.
Just a Photo tip: You don’t want the Tokyo Tower observation deck because… well, obviously because you can’t view the tower when you’re standing on it. The bright red structure will really make a difference on your photo (which is the same case why I advise you against climbing Eiffel Tower.)
Also go to the deck just before the sunset, so you can see both daytime and night view.
Mori Tower Observation Deck, Roppongi Hills
6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Memory Alley / Omoide Yokocho 思い出横丁
We wrapped up the day with a dinner in Omoide Yokocho aka Memory Alley (Or Piss Alley, the least charming name) in Shinjuku. Omoide Yokocho, an old quarter tucked beside the railway line behind the neon-lit towers of Shinjuku, is a tight, smoky lane of around sixty small bars and restaurants linked by alleys just wide enough for a few people to pass.
These lanes of building blocks are home to dozens of smoky traditional yakitori and izakaya bars famous mostly for their grilled skewers; from chicken, eggs, vegetables, seafood to some animal body parts that I don’t have the stomach to mention hhere -but hey, if you’re feeling adventurous, ten by all means go for it! At dinner hours, you can bet that 90% of the places will be full, as each stall only has six to eight seats. However service is generally very quick and if you’re patient, you might score a seat and have an unforgettable dining experience.
For portrait photographers, Omoide Yokocho is the best people watching spot in Tokyo. From local salarymen, college couples to international tourists from all over the world, you can expect to encounter all sorts of people here from everywhere.
That’s it for today loves! See you on the next Tokyo Journey!8