Impressive architecture, great shopping, funky cafes
Known as the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo, Omotesando’s tree-lined streets are filled with beautiful shops, funky cafes and great restaurants. It is also the gateway to the entrance to the Meiji Jingu Shrine and links on to the very popular Harajuku area including Takeshita Street.
Similar to Ginza, Omotesando is home to many international brands ranging from Dior to Gap as well as Japanese labels. The wide walkways and beautiful storefronts are a sight to see, as the very modern architecture is a clear example of the upwardly mobile tastes of the local community and the exceptional capabilities of Japanese designers to respond in kind.
For those who love to spend the day meandering in beautiful stores admiring beautiful things, Omotesando may be akin to paradise. Less crowded than Ginza and lacking the department stores, the streets and ally-ways are filled with boutiques by common and not so common name brands interspersed with cute coffee shops complete with poodles in strollers.
Even if high-end shopping doesn’t inspire you to excitement, this area is a peaceful and beautiful path leading you to see the more exotic and cutting-edge creations in Harajuku or taking you to the most popular shrine in Tokyo.
Places worth a visit in Omotesando definitely include Kiddy Land. This incredible store has toys for kids of all ages and is the best place to get a good glimpse of some serious Hello Kitty memorabilia, among other familiar faces. The Oriental Bazaar is also a good stop. It is a famous souvenir store full of merchandise to take home including western sized kimonos.
But it’s not all shopping all the time in Omotesando, the Omotesando Gallery is host to a variety of exhibitions and shows and O Space at the relatively new Omotesando Hills complex also have family friendly activities. The events in O Space, which are (mostly) open to the public, typically surround film festivals and holidays including activities such as the Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade. In addition there are numerous other exhibitions, which may be on throughout the year.
Food in this area can be a bit expensive however an afternoon sipping coffee or green tea and eating an amazing slice of cake can be worth every penny. For a less expensive option perhaps try Moyan Curry; serving a variety of delicious Japanese curries and other traditional side dishes. If you’re looking for a more unique experience with exceptional food, Tetsugen Nikusho is a fabulous izakaya (bar) and has a menu that will challenge your taste buds. Meats such as boar, frog, and horse are all available as well as the more familiar beef and pork. They have a great range of sake’s to try and since you may be feeling adventurous, you can also delight in any variety of shochu drinks (a popular whiskey-like alcohol). Though all the izakayas in this area are great, Tetsugen (and also Moyan) is located just off Aoyama-dori towards Shibuya Station. Another great option, if you’d rather have something closer to home is The Burger Stand Fellows.
Omotesando is a great place to wind down after a crazy day exploring Harajuku or to kick things off a bit more slowly. Impressive architecture, great shopping, funky cafes and beautiful tree-lined streets are enough to keep any traveler happy.