Tokyo Travel Guide: Ikebukuro
A mix of old and new is what makes Ikebukuro so special. From 19th century gardens to animal cafes to...
Located just around the corner from Shibuya, Omotesando is an area known for its cafes and a wide variety of luxury stores.
Small shops clustered close together can be found in the area, which is often filled with people indulging in some retail therapy, especially during the weekends. Although it sits right next to Harajuku, the area has a totally different atmosphere from the typically busy atmosphere of Shibuya. Furthermore, the densely built apparel shops and luxury brand stores are exuding a more sophisticated atmosphere that you will not feel like you’re somewhere near Shibuya.
Omotesando is a popular shopping destination in Tokyo. However, unlike its neighbors, the area caters mainly to fans of haute couture brands. The area is also surrounded by trendy cafes where you can sit back and relax after a whole day of shopping. In fact, Omotesando is known as one of the leading cafe areas in Tokyo. Grab a chair at one of the street cafes, order a drink or two, and observe the crowd of shoppers hunting down the best deals.
Omotesando literally means “Shrine Entranceway Road”. As you approach the area, you’ll find the Meiji Shrine and its grounds that have now been turned into Yoyogi Park. Walk around the street and marvel at the cutting edge architecture that is typical to most of the establishments here.
Some of these buildings here are designed by world-renown Japanese and International architects. These architectural gems can be best enjoyed at night when the lights would accentuate the buildings’ curves and lines.
When it comes to shopping, you’ll find tons of options in the Omotesando and Harajuku area. Go check out the famous Meiji Streets, where you’ll find several themed shops selling unique and rare collector’s items. The area also attracts foreign visitors who are fond of Japanese subculture goods and clothing. At the Takeshita Street, you’ll find shops selling the latest trends in fashion.
The best way to enjoy Omotesando is to take a slow and relaxed walk through its streets. Begin at Yoyogi Park and make your way towards the area where the Apple Store is located, right along with the Jingumae, Shibuya ward. This area will show you a different side of Shibuya from the ones most people know.
From the Apple Store, you can go towards the intersection of Aoyama-Dori Avenue until you reach the Kita-Aoyama. The stretch beyond this area goes towards as far as the beautiful Nezu Museum. This is where some of the biggest fashion stores can be found. Take time to check out the big and extensive fashion stores selling International and Japanese brands. The area is home to trendy boutiques, cafes, and galleries that are truly worth a stop.
Omotesando is also the location of New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) first branch outside the US. The MoMa Design Store is on the 3rd floor of the GYRE Building. It’s a great place to roam around and check out the haven of treats and goodies and the more than 1,800 displays!
At the top end of Omotesando, you’ll find a large apartment building known as Co-op Olympia. This building was built during 1965 and is one of Japan’s first high-class condominiums that were outfitted with elevators and other modern amenities.
The Omotesando Station is accessible by Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, and Hanzomon Line. Omotesando Station is only one station away from Shibuya Station via either Ginza Line or Hanzomon Line.
You can also take a walk from JR Harajuku Station to Omotesando, which takes less than 15 mins. Omotesando is also within a walking distance from JR Shibuya Station, takes around 20 mins.