Daikanyamachō (代官山町)—more commonly, just “Daikanyama”—is a municipality in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, not far from Ebisu. It includes a stretch of the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line, which serves the neighborhood. In practice, though, when people refer to Daikanyama what they often mean is everything that’s within a short walk of the train station of the same name, so this also includes parts of Ebisunishi and Sarugakucho. This phenomenon of stations as focal points for neighborhoods is of great personal and professional interest for me. It’s the leading factor that drove me into my lifestyle/environment/urbanism beat, led me to choose my current home, and brought me back to Tokyo for this project.
Daikanyama is one of my favorite Tokyo walks. I usually start out around Ebisu, as was the case this time, and wind my way around the narrow, hilly streets, before ultimately working my way over to the Yamanote Line tracks and following them up into Shibuya. I had never actually walked to Daikanyama Station itself, so that became my destination for this round.
Ebisunishi is quite a hopping place come nightfall, so it’s fun to see it in the very early afternoon, when many shops and restaurants are just beginning to rub sleep out of their eyes.
A quiet moment of prayer at Ebisu Shrine (恵比寿神社)
Friendly neighborhood ramen shop
I remember seeing this adorable little French restaurant on the corner the very first time I came here. Back in pre-smartphone days and without a map, navigating off this point was how I knew whether I was walking in circles or actually getting somewhere. Someday I ought to go there for a meal and tell the owner about it.
One thing you sense as you get closer to Daikanyama Station is an increasing density of bicycles, both moving and parked. It tells you a lot about the nature of the neighborhood.
Due to roadworks, this guard carefully watched passing pedestrians and cyclists, stopping cars to allow people to pass. The funny thing was, compared with the places I’m used to, the drivers here were so cautious and careful I don’t think this guy was really necessary!
This konbini has recycling bins and just enough space in the road shoulder for a few bicycles and scooters. You don’t come here by car, not that you’d ever need/want to.
This is the approach to the station from the southeast.
This is one of the multiple ways to get into Daikanyama Station. I counted at least six in total, but I may have missed a few.
This is the beginning of the many small shops, restaurants and other amenities located around the station.
I had never realized just how much was here!
Mobile espresso. Interestingly, this van is also in the Google Street View images from 2009. Must be a frequent visitor.
If you step off the side of the the Sign cafe’s front deck, you are literally in the entrance to Daikanyama Station.
For a relatively small station, there is a sophisticated retail presence inside the building.
This is just outside the east gate. All of the neighborhood restaurants compete for your attention, and stomach, the moment you exit the station. This is what transit oriented development looks like.
This is one of several pedestrian overcrossings that enable you to quickly go toward the desired part of Daikanyama once you arrive. Because of the hills and the tracks, this is a key part of ensuring that walkability is fully realized as an extension of the transit system.
This overcrossing takes you over a street to more mixed retail and residential development adjacent to the station. What’s really fun about it is how it connects to a chain of small, elevated bridges and platforms that tunnel through the foliage, like a giant tree house.
Daimaru Peacock (supermarket)
There is quite a bit more to the commercial center of Daikanyama, particularly to the west of the station, which I didn’t have time to cover on this visit. Now I’ll have something to do the next time I’m back.
Daikanyama is the last stop on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line before it terminates at Shibuya Station. From there you can choose from an abundance of connections that will get you to just about anywhere in Tokyo. That Daikanyama can be so close to the buzzing hive of Shibuya and the vast network of places beyond, yet preserve its calm and quiet charm, is a good example of the power of dense and diverse urban environments and transit. You don’t have to choose only one kind of place you want to be, you can have them all. Best of all, you won’t need a car to get to any of them.
This post is part of The Tokyo Project. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.
Additional volumes: Volume 2