The area of Daikanyama is well-known for its well-designed public space: modern architecture filled with high end boutiques and a wide variety of restaurants and coffee places, all within walking distance from one another and easily accessible. There is also the possibility to enjoy a drink or meal on a terrace or rooftop or just to have a relaxed stroll between the mainly low rise buildings, making the area very popular with couples and families. There are many kids’ shops, and obviously not a surprise to also find a bunch of child-friendly restaurants here. Or even better, you can also find restaurants in the area catered to babies and infants.
There is Tokyo Baby Café in Omotesando—and then there is Chano-ma in Daikanyama. It has nothing to do with the similar sounding Cha no Ma samurai dining-themed restaurant in Ehime Prefecture, but it is a great place in Tokyo, which allows infants to crawl around and fall asleep on the restaurant’s white comfy sofa beds, while moms can enjoy their lunch.
It is not only this open attitude of allowing small children in the restaurant that appeals to me (in a city such as Tokyo dominated by small sized and smoky eateries), but Chano-ma is also pleasant to the eyes. The restaurant is designed as a contemporary modern living room, all open space, mainly decorated with white curtains and rows of white sofa beds covered with pillows, finished with soft lighting to make you feel at ease. There is also table and couch seating for those that find the sofa beds difficult to lean/sit on, while having their meal. Child-friendly amenities also extend to the bathrooms that are both furnished with diaper changing stations.
All their lunch sets come with unlimited (self) servings of bread and soft drinks, and the menu is centered on pastas, curries and rice dishes. They also offer a small selection of desserts. The dinner menu is more extensive and includes a.o. vegetarian dishes, pizzas, pastas and meat and seafood dishes. Prices per dish vary between 1,000 and 2,000 yen.
Although I wouldn’t advise people without children to drop in on the weekends, as the place will be packed with mothers and babies, Chano-ma is overall a very relaxed place to just hang out.
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In September 2010 I came for the first time to Japan on a look-and-see visit. I didn't know much about the country nor its people, let alone had any clue on what it really meant to live here. One day, after renting bikes and stopping at a construction site, a worker came up to me, smiled, bowed, picked up my bike and carried it to the other side of the road, after which he helped me get on it again. Right there and then, I was sold! Up till now, I am still amazed how friendly Japanese people can be, how lovely this country also is and I look forward to sharing more of these enjoyable experiences with you.