Jose Manuel Zardain


Tokyo's cool and hip area

Jose Manuel Zardain
José Manuel Zardain   - 3 min read

You’ve probably heard a lot about Ginza, its shops and cafes. It’s always a good option to visit this area while spending days in Tokyo, but if you're interested in a more alternative, hip and original atmosphere go to Daikanyama instead.

The same way that Akihabara is for anime culture, Daikanyama is for hip attitude. Inside its small alleys you will find all type of stores that challenge each other with originality and creativity. The variety ranges from independent fashion designers, vintage re-sellers, clothes and shoes hospitals, hairdressers, drip brew coffee shops, organic juice bars, and talented ateliers. The list keeps on growing day by day as this area becomes one of the favourite for young Japanese.

The air surrounding Daikanyama is one of an independent and easy going spirit. The decoration of the shops and streets gives a complete different sense of Tokyo which it’s really worth visiting. It’s an area to walk around and get lost to discover. Although I would recommend you to find your own cool places in this intimate neighborhood, here are some suggestions to begin your search.

Ues is a Japanese denim brand with only two stores - one in Osaka and one in Tokyo. All of their clothes and accessories are produced in Japan using only high quality and non chemically treated Zimbabwe cotton. The small and retro decorated shop introduces the old fashion into a modern experience. The friendly staff can help you not only to choose and fit your new pair of jeans, but also to fix any old ones that you might bring along.

Very close to Ues, you will find Diral. There’s not a real reason why Japanese shop owner Dai Iwananga named his shop like this. It’s a word on its own, the same way as with his store. The originality of its products, all manufactured in Japan, are creatively arranged inside a compact glass room. The design of the showroom allows you to walk around and concentrate on the small details of the handicraft. There’s a huge variety of them, all of great quality and design. When you enter the store try saying ciao instead of konnichiwa; Dai is as fluent in Italian as he is in Japanese.

A few meters away you can find other interesting options. Hollywood Ranch Market sells almost anything you can imagine, but their highlight are the real sized figures of animals and movie characters outside the store. They are all made of old pieces of metal and used objects. My favourite is the 2 meter high T-Rex, with its tail made out of pots, and his hands out of Playstation controls. Walk a bit more and you will find Stalogy, where you can write a letter to your future self one year from now. They will deliver it anywhere exactly twelve months after.

There’s a huge variety of options to discover in Daikanyama. Not only shops, but also cafes, bars and restaurants. Food from around the world is in every corner - grilled burgers, Mexican tacos, Italian pasta, thin crepes, and of course sushi.

Spending an afternoon in this new, cool, and contemporary neighborhood will not only be a great way to indulge your shopping and culinary senses. It will also open a new cultural view of the young, modern and indie Japanese society.

José Manuel Zardain

José Manuel Zardain @jose.manuel.zardain

Mexican photographer and travel passionate.