Hillside Terrace

Leafy streets. Low-rise buildings. Stylish boutiques. Laid-back cafes. Green parks. This may sound like a far cry from Tokyo, a city synonymous with futuristic skyscrapers, packed trains and urban neon.

Yet there is another side to the Japanese capital that defies urban stereotypes and moves at a surprisingly relaxed tempo – and there are few better examples of this than Daikanyama, a neighbourhood just south of the blare of Shibuya.

The DNA of Daikanyama’s low-key but fashionable atmosphere can perhaps be traced to the presence one of Tokyo’s most iconic architectural developments – Hillside Terrace, home to Caramel’s Japan flagship.

Hillside-Terrace (Kelseys-MacBook-Pro.local's conflicted copy 2017-07-07)


Discreetly interwoven into the low-rise urban tableau, the development meanders along both sides of the main wide street Kyu-Yamate Dori, creating the atmosphere of a small village.

And so there are art galleries, fashion boutiques, lifestyle stores, cafes, florists, wedding shops, offices, apartments. There’s even a Shinto shrine and an embassy on its grounds.

The complex was created by Fumihiko Maki, one of Japan’s most celebrated architects, over a 30-year period, starting in the 1960s when the area was still surrounded by forested hillsides

Today, it can perhaps be viewed as an architectural diary of a city’s urban growth – the gradual expansion of its network of low-rise concrete buildings, passageways and walkways interspersed with leafy trees reflecting the capital’s fast-growing evolution in recent decades.

As Darryl Jingwen Wee, an architecture expert who runs bespoke tours in Tokyo, explains: “In a scrap-and-build city where the average lifespan of a building is just 26 years, Hillside Terrace is an anomaly: an architecturally coherent residential and commercial mixed-use complex that unfolds over a gently sloping site, weaving together open plazas, walkways, and stairwells with green spaces, cafes and shops, event and exhibition spaces, and even a shrine”.

“While Tokyo has always been a city of low-rise, village-like development with an intimate human scale, it is also often slapdash and makeshift, and rarely aesthetically coherent — with Hillside Terrace being a notable exception.”

The best way to experience it? Simply take a leisurely stroll along Kyu-Yamate Dori and soak up the atmosphere, stopping to window shop, have a coffee, take in an art exhibition, buy some flowers. And perhaps best of all? You can even pop into the Caramel store to say hello to the friendly Japan team.



May Bluebell wears the Chicory dress in mandarine check


Darryl Jingwen Wee (http://www.tokyotomo.org/) offers bespoke architectural, art and design tours of Tokyo, including the Daikanyama area.

Words by: Danielle Demetriou

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