Certifiably cool Tomigaya has seen an ever-increasing influx of bearded neo-hipster visitors since it graced the pages of the New York Times, and Monocle erected its Tokyo headquarters here, but this little indie neighbourhood remains relatively calm and collected considering its proximity to central Shibuya. Roughly consisting of a couple of blocks southwest of Yoyogi Park, it stretches south from Yoyogi-Hachiman Station to, at most, the Bunkamura – technically you’re in Kamiyamacho by then, but everyone still seems to call it Tomigaya.
Here you’ll find cute cafés, coffee shops, eccentric fashion stores and fantastic restaurants next to old tofu shops and the local butchers. Long-term residents complain that there’s been too much gentrification in the past few years, but for now some of the golden oldies seem to still be holding out.
Surprisingly for Tokyo, a city where eating your morning meal outside of the home isn’t really the done thing, Tomigaya has its fair share of brekkie options. Queue for a dutch pancake or impeccable croissant at Path (which does great food all-day round), have a smoothie and tofu pancakes on Bondi Café’s terrace, or pick up something from the good old Horiuchi Bakery.
If it’s a nice day, just hit up Yoyogi Park and Meiji Jingu Shrine down the road before the crowds get there. For an alternative dose of culture, head to the Toguri Museum of Art to ogle at Japanese porcelain.
You’re rather spoilt for choice here: slurp some udon after queuing up at Menki Yashima; grab a sandwich and coffee at, well, Camelback Sandwich & Espresso; indulge in cheesy items at Shibuya Cheese Stand; or try a set lunch at Shiny Owl or Meals Are Delightful. For some old-school comfort food, go for the katsudon at Katsudonya Zuicho.
Shopping and browsing is the name of the game here, and that’s not limited to clothing. The art of reading isn’t lost on Tomigaya, and you’ll find a few nice bookstores in the area. That includes the famed Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers with its artsy (Japanese) books, and the record shop-meets-bookphile Rhythm and Books, which has a penchant for books on mushrooms. The Monocle Shop has some reading material too, besides its selection of fashion goods.
For coffee, head to one of the neighbourhood’s top cafés: Coffee Supreme, Inn or Cafe Rostro. Eco-conscious fashion can be found at Pivoine, while Fukamachi Endo does stationery and has a café in the back. Chocolate lovers should make a beeline for the Cacao Store, and if that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, head straight to Sebastián for the ‘dolce shaved ice’. And to complete your Tomigaya look, try Archivando for high-quality accessories and lifestyle goods.
The area is full of classy hole-in-the-walls and relaxed, international-influenced restaurants. That includes Peko Cise, a lean wagyu specialist, and Ahiru Store, everyone’s favourite natural wine bar, which serves some pretty inventive food and is rarely without a queue.
For international fare, try North African-focused (despite the name) Los Barbados or the French Tomigaya Terrace. A more traditional option is Uoriki, which has been run by the same family for four generations and serves up fish set meals.
Go for an artsy flick at Uplink, an independent cinema with an adjoining gift shop, gallery and café, or go people- (read: expat-) watching at Fuglen, the Oslo café-bar import that serves some decent cocktails and craft beer at night. The Nordic theme continues at craft beer joint Øl Tokyo, while you can have kakigori with your drink at dinky Freaky. And for all your clubbing needs, Shibuya proper is just around the corner...