The long slope between Kagurazaka and Iidabashi station is a treasure trove for back-alley explorers, and one can easily spend an entire afternoon winding about the area...which is exactly what I did!
There are several small art galleries near Kagurazaka station, and we peeked into the Ayumi Gallery, a cozy old house stuffed with watercolors and ink drawings of the artist's world travels. At some point I really want to take a few art classes, and become better at capturing the essence of a place on paper, rather than relying so much on my camera.
The area has a reputation for being very 'French", and admittedly there is indeed a disproportionate number of wine bars. However, it still has a bit of a shitamachi feel, and it is also one of the areas in Tokyo where geisha still reside and entertain. Hidden on the 2nd floor of a non-descript apartment building we found a second-hand kimono store, bustling with little old ladies searching for bargains. The hakama-clad owner was able to unearth a couple TL kimono for me... unfortunately the colours were far to sedate for my tastes.
Down another alley we came across Alpage, which seems to specialize in delicious-looking cheeses and warmed sake... while I resisted the temptation of throwing myself into the pots of fondue, this looks well-worth another visit. On the main road a dumpling store tempted me with vegetable and mozzarella 'man', a nice departure from the usual meat or anko versions!
Each alley and turn holds a new delight, requiring a great deal of walking, which makes one thirsty. After emerging near the British Council (which, by the way, is apparently known as the 'Burikan'... and leads to images of a council consisting entirely of burikko, oy), we came across the Canal Cafe, which used to be part of the Tokyo Sailing Club. While it was a little chilly, in the spring it must be amazing, with all the sakura in bloom. Wandering back up the slope for a second loop, we came across the most modern, stylish shrine you could imagine, a glorious construction of light wood and glass.
As the sun started falling, we dropped into Petit Paris, since no visit to Kagurazaka would complete without some French food, wine and conversation with the friendly owner, Nabil. The choice of wines was excellent, with a decently priced Maubec, and a glorious selection of cheeses... the way to my heart is obviously through fermented milk products, how terribly romantic ;P