Welcome to Tomigaya Shibuya
For today’s itinerary, we’re introducing the Tomigaya neighborhood of Shibuya! If New York is the “City That Never Sleeps”, then Tokyo may win the moniker of “the city that sleeps in”. Despite being a bustling metropolis of 20 million people, walking around on a weekend morning you could easily think you were in a much smaller city. Even on packed commuter trains there’s a that belies just how many millions of people are either starting their day.
So many visitors I’ve helped to navigate Japan have found the mornings to be jarringly quiet. For the traveler with limited time in Japan, there’s the desire to always be on the go. That is, until they learned to lean into the peace that a morning in Tokyo can have.
For this traveler who, on top of all of this, probably needs a good cup of coffee, there’s nowhere better to go than Tomigaya, Shibuya. This small neighborhood is jammed packed with some of the best coffee and pastry spots in town. While you may not find a shop open as early as a Starbucks in NYC, there are places open as early as 08:00, giving the traveler a jump start on the day.
Tomigaya is a short walk from Shibuya and Yoyogi Park and is an easy place from which to explore Harajuku and Omotesando. If you’re an early bird, check out one of these spots to grab a to go drink for a leisurely stroll or to pull up a seat and watch Tokyo slowly wake up.
These delicious and healthy juice drinks are straight out of Los Angeles and are a great way to get fueled up for a day of walking around. Setsuko/OK is in the northwest part of Shibuya and could become a staple of your Tokyo mornings if you’re staying local. Follow them on Instagram as they have been known to do pop-ups around town. And of course, after a day of exploring, come back and check out their craft beer selection.
Coffee Supreme – Drink with a View
Kamiyama Street is where most of the action in Tomigaya happens. Lined with coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, it’s a tucked away place with a variety of high-end options. Perched at the corner of the street is the small, angular Coffee Supreme. This four seat shop has an extensive menu for coffee and breakfast seekers.
They position a few stools outside and on a warmer morning, it’s a wonderful place to watch the world go by. Open from 8:00am – 5:00pm, it’s one of the earlier spots to get your caffeine fix. So if jet lag has you up, head here for some assistance in getting onto Japan Standard Time.
Beasty Coffee — An Introduction to Oshare
“Oshare” is a Japanese word that is a must know when trying to describe your travels around the country. It’s a word that describes a person or place as very fashionable. The specific definition changes with modern tastes, but you’ll know it when you see it.
One example of today’s definition of oshare is Beasty Coffee, also right on Kamiyama Street. Its minimalist design keeps the focus on their coffee, which they sell for dine-in, to-go, and for making at home.
With free Wi-Fi, Beasty Coffee is a good place to spend a few hours while getting some work done. Personally, I enjoyed a chai latte in this very oshare environment while writing a draft of this post. Everyone around me seemed to be either heads down in a computer. Beasty Coffee is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Their menu focuses primarily on drinks, so if you’re hungry, you may want to head in a different direction. But if you’re looking for an “oshare” vibe with some good coffee, Beasty can’t be beat.
Fuglen Coffee – The OG Coffee Shop
Fuglen originally opened in May 2012 and mixes Norweigan ‘hygge’ with Japanese service right next to Yoyogi Park. Over the course of the day it transforms from morning coffee to afternoon pick-me-up to cocktail bar by night. Fuglen is open from 7:00am to 10:00pm.
Inside Fuglen has multiple back issues of Monocle, fitting given that their Toyko Bureau is right around the corner. It’s also not unusual to see multiple photoshoots happening at the outdoor seating.
One big surprise is that in January 2022, Fuglen is maybe the rarest of coffee shops that doesn’t have wi-fi! After getting over the initial shock, it made for an even more intimate experience. I put my computer away and got some uninterrupted, non-digital work done for once. In addition, Tomigaya is an exceptionally fashionable neighborhood which makes for some fun people watching out on the streets. On the same street is a specialty pet store and so there’s a near constant parade of well-dressed dogs coming and going.
A Transparent Toilet in Shibuya?!
As the day rolls on and more shops and restaurants open, you could easily spend more time in Tomigaya. But for this morning promenade, after getting your coffee and greeting the day there’s so much more to go and see and do. If you’re walking to Harajuku, then it’s as simple as cutting across Yoyogi Park.
There are two nearby train stations Yoyogi-Hachiman on the Odakyu Line and Yoyogi-Koen on the Chiyoda Line of the Tokyo Metro. If you get on the Chiyoda Line, be sure to check out Hie Shrine! If you end up heading to Yoyogi-Koen Station, there’s a small park nearby with an only-in-Tokyo novelty toilet that caused quite the stir when it was first installed.
That’s because these toilets are not only colorful but are also completely transparent. That is, until you deadbolt the door and the glass changes from see-through to opaque. It’s part of an initiative to encourage public cleanliness and safety by showing prospective users exactly what awaits them inside. While the toilets are currently closed right now due to COVID 19 restrictions, once they’re back open, don’t forget to lock the door!
Getting Around Tomigaya, Shibuya
One of my favorite things about Tokyo is how many micro-neighborhoods make up this vast and complex city. Tomigaya is a perfect example of how a neighborhood can be right next door to the bustling Shibuya Crossing and yet the perfect place to take in a serene morning with a latte. If you’re not staying in Shibuya, it’s still very easy to get from Shinjuku on the Odakyu Line to Yoyogi-Hachiman or a short walk from Shibuya Station which has a dozen train lines.
Enjoy your morning in Tomigaya!