arts & crafts
Harajuku is as much a mythical entity as it is ground
Zero for Tokyo street style; its mysterious borders blend with nearby, upmarket Aoyama and bustling Shibuya. Here, in its tangled back alleys, lives the New Japan where left-wing artistic types mix with fashion-conscious teenagers in one oxymoronic mélange of youth culture. Meanwhile, the beau monde fights for turf on Omotesando—
a concrete catwalk and Tokyo’s Champs Elysées—as creatives toil away in the quiet back streets of Aoyama and sports enthusiasts take in a game on the grounds of Meiji Jingu’s Outer Gardens.
If you’re in the market for a more personal reminder of your shopping experience in the crazy backstreets of Harajuku, look no further than this ultra-hip shop specializing in undies for men and women. The designs are done by artists from around the world. The only requirement to shop at 3rdWare is a frisky side and an interest in fashion. Online purchasing available. B1 Risa Bldg, 4-25-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5770-8140. Open Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri noon-8pm, Sat, Sun 11-8pm, closed Wed. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae. www.3rdware.net
The Heart Art Communications Gallery, located near the beautiful gingko tree-lined Icho Namiki Dori, offers gorgeous and affordable prints of Japanese art. Prices start at ¥3,000 for calligraphy pieces, ¥5,000 for sumi-e black ink paintings, and ¥10,000 for traditional craftwork. B1 Sepia Kaigakan, 2-11-15 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5772-6225. Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, call for weekend open hours. Nearest stn: Gaienmae or Aoyama-Itchome. www.japanartmarket.com/eng/home.html
This simple store is filled with antique Japanese fabrics and fashions, including beautifully embroidered and hand-painted kimono, obi, haori (overcoat), noren (curtains) and more. 102 Flats Omotesando, 4-4-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3470-3305. Open daily 11am-6pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Ma by So Shi Te
Get a flavor of the pre-modern Japanese aesthetic at Soshite homewares shop, located in the trendy Aoyama neighborhood. So Shi Te offers such classic items as lacquerware, furoshiki wrapping cloth, porcelain and incense, as well as furniture, Japanese crystal and yosegi inlaid wood. This is the perfect place to pick up a traditional Japanese gift for yourself or to give away as a souvenir. 103 Sekihara Bldg, 2-19-5 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3401-0922. Open daily 11am-7:30pm. Nearest stn: Gaienmae, exit 4. www.mabysoshite.com
This Omotesando institution has been drawing tourists for decades with four floors of reasonably priced Japanese goods. 5-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3400-3933. Open Fri-Wed 10am-7pm, closed Thu. Nearest stn: Omotesando or Meiji-Jingumae.
A Bathing Ape
Designer/DJ Nigo’s Planet of the Apes-inspired clothing is ironically ubiquitous even if the stores are purposely hard to find. 1F-2F Manivia, 5-5-8 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3407-2145. Open daily 11am-7pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
The BEAMS fashion empire occupies a chunk of Harajuku along Meiji Dori. This pricey, select shop stocks an eclectic mix of hand-picked designer goods. Don’t miss BEAMS-T in the same building at the back. 3-25-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3746-0789. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo continues to push boundaries. The flagship store is also an architectural oddity. 5-2-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3406-3951. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
The name says it all. Glam is back. The clothes are as sparkly as the walls—and the price tags. 5-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5778-3717. Open daily noon-9pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
The coolest used-clothing store in the world. Two floors of revival fashion for girls and boys. Get budget fashion tips from checking out your fellow shoppers. 3F-4F YM Square Harajuku, 4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3796-7303. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
|ISHIDA Aoyama Omotesando|
Escape the busy foot traffic of Omotesando at this shop located under the Ralph Lauren building. Ishida Aoyama Omotesando has a relaxed vibe that allows one to leisurely peruse the selection and find that perfect wristwatch. B1, 4-25-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3600. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae or Omotesando. www.ishida-watch.com
The designer who put Japan on the fashion map. Naoki Takizawa now runs the show and is as creative as his boss. 3-18-11 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3423-1407 or 1408. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Women’s and men’s clothing and accessories from the cheeky Californian fashion brand. 5-5-5 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5766-2237. Open: 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
The luxury goods maker’s biggest store in the world is also one of the most beautiful. 5-7-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3478-2100. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
This dungeon-like shopping hell (heaven?) holds Tokyo's crown of decadence. Free booze if you can afford to buy something. 3-17-11 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3401-2301. Open daily noon-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Herzog & de Meuron's glass monolith is worth a mention as much for its sightseeing value as its Prada goodies. 5-2-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6418-0400. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
You couldn’t miss the gaudiest shop in Tokyo even if you wanted to. There is a convenient supermarket, Azuma, downstairs. 2F, 5-4-30 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5466-7729. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Like his compatriots Kosuke Tsumura and Nigo, Jun Takahashi is making a name for himself abroad. 1F Uninat Blue Cinq Point, 5-3-18 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku Tel: 03-3407-1232. Open daily 11am-8:30pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
The first Japan flagship from the collaboration brand of Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto. 5-3-20 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5464-1930. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Health & beauty
This crème de la crème of Western-style salons in Tokyo offers facials, waxing, massages, manicures and pedicures. 101 Maison Kawai, 2-25-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3478-5898. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8:30pm (closed Tue). Nearest stn: Harajuku.
Staffed by foreign and bilingual Japanese hairstylists, Sin Den is famous throughout the international community. 3-9-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3405-4409. Open Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Gaienmae.
These studio specialists have foreigners looking photo-ready in complete maiko or geiko regalia, including kimono, make-up and three poses. Call for appointment. 4-28-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3470-0027. Open daily 10am-6pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
This teen fashion mecca also has a museum space on the sixth floor and HMV in the basement. Laforet Harajuku, 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3475-0411. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
This popular shopping mall is a premium destination for high-end fashion shopaholics. 4-12-20 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3497-0310. Shops open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm, café Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm, restaurants open daily 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando or Meiji-Jingumae.
A six-floor Nirvana for the young and the young at heart. All the latest games, figures and wacky contraptions. 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3409-3431. Open daily 10am-9pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
What do you get when you pair the freshest Japanese ingredients with Italian culinary techniques, and add a stellar wine list? Dynamite ¥8,000 prix fixe dinners at Lyu’s. B1 House 7115, 7-11-5 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6419-8328. Open Mon-Sat 6-11pm (LO 10pm), closed Sun & hols. www.lyu-s.net ¥¥¥¥
This almost zen-like eatery has simple, delicious lunch sets (around ¥1,000), and in the evening is an up-market izakaya with a ¥1,000 sake-tasting set. B1 Aoyama Hanamo Bldg, 3-12-9 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5766-2800. Open daily 11:30am-3pm, 3-5pm (tea time), 5:30-11:30pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando. ¥¥¥
There’s a standing bar on the first floor, a lounge space on the second, and a terrace on the third. Stylish locals mix with students from nearby Aoyama University. 5-10-17 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5774-1727. Open Mon-Thu 6pm-2am, Fri-Sat 6pm-5am, Sun & hols 6-11pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando. ¥
Great ramen topped with barbecued pork, egg, cucumber and other grilled veggies. Also known for superior fried rice. 1F Murayama Bldg, 5-9-5 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3499-6295. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10pm (L.O. 9:30pm). Closed 2nd and 4th Sun of month. Nearest stn: Omotesando. ¥
A converted public bath, Maisen has Tokyo’s best fried pork cutlets. Seats at the bar or in the smoking section are the most atmospheric. 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3470-0071. Open daily 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando. ¥
Voted by PETA as one of the top ten veggie restaurants in Asia. B1 Sanwa-Aoyama Bldg, 2-22-19 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5474-0510. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-11pm; Sat, Sun & hols 11:30am-10:30pm. Nearest stn: Gaienmae. ¥¥
This popular Asian fusion joint, housed in a former tatami factory, has a diverse menu of salads, stir-frys and original creations. 6-3-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5485-2283. Open Mon-Fri 11am-11pm (L.O. 10pm). Sat-Sun 10am-11pm. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae. ¥¥
Expats, fashionistas and club kids hang at this sprawling complex of international eateries and bars. 5-47-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3407-6865. Open Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11:30pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando or Shibuya. ¥¥
The Pink Cow
Popular among the foreign community, artists and wine lovers for homemade food, friendly gatherings and exhibitions. B1 Villa Moderna, 1-3-18 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3406-5597. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-late. Nearest stn: Omotesando or Shibuya. ¥
America’s best-known rib restaurant has several branches in Tokyo. Top quality ribs of meat delivered specially from the US are grilled on a charcoal fire just as you’d find back home. Ditch your knife and fork and dig in with your bare hands. Also enjoy their great appetizers, including spinach avocado dip and onion loaf. (Other branches in Roppongi, Akasaka and Hanzomon.) B1 Avex Bldg, 3-1-30 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3479-5214. Open noon-10:30pm (Fri closed 2:30-5:30pm). Nearest stn: Omotesando or Gaienmae. ¥¥
Steaks are brought to the table on giant skewers with a choice of sides, or add the all-you-can-eat salad bar. B1 Evergreen Bldg, 4-3-24 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3796-0571. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm and 5:30-11pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-4pm and 5:30-10pm (doors close 1hr before close, L.O. 30min before close). Nearest stn: Omotesando. ¥¥
A terrace this spacious is a rarity in Tokyo, and it’s the perfect spot for a chilled beer on a warm evening when the city just seems too much. La Place, 3-13-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3401-1193. Open daily 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando. www.mayanddee.co.jp ¥¥
Fonda de la Madrugada
This fun Mexican restaurant serves up authentic South of the Border cuisine with live mariachis playing. An excellent selection of Mexican beers and tequila are also on offer at this gorgeous multilevel eatery. B1 Villa Bianca, 2-33-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5410-6288. Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-2am, Fri & Sat 5:30pm-5am. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae or Harajuku. www.fonda-m.com ¥¥
Fresh organic Japanese dishes that have drawn visiting veggie luminaries such as Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. 2-18-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3405-9144. Open daily Mon-Fri 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae. ¥
Bar Den Inmu
Austin Powers-esque bar just off Aoyama Dori, with shagadelic purple carpets, white leather sofas and disco lighting deluxe. B2 Aoyama KT Bldg, 5-50-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5766-1616. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-5am, Sun & hols 7pm-2am. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
This Belgian bar offers a warm European atmosphere and the city’s best french fries and mayonnaise. 1-10-23 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3403-3972. Open Mon-Fri 5:30pm-2am, Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae or Harajuku.
An aquatic-inspired lounge for hip patrons chilling to the sounds of gurgling floor-to-ceiling fish tanks. ¥700 cover. B1 FIK Aoyama Bldg, 5-13-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5778-2090. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-2am, Sun & hols 6-11pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Bar that recreates the workplace ambience with a copy machine, desks and a great corner-office view down Aoyama Dori. 5F Yamazaki Bldg, 2-7-18 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5786-1052. Open daily 7pm-3am, closed on Sun. Look for the big green light in the window. Nearest stn: Gaienmae.
Very bubble-era restaurant/bar/club with plush sofas, chandeliers, mirrors and lots of other things that glitter. Fabulous toilets. B1 Almost Blue, 6-4-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5778-4777. Open Sun-Thu 6pm-2am, Fri-Sat 6pm-4am. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Blue Note Tokyo
The giant of Tokyo jazz clubs both in size and stature. Raika Bldg, 6-3-16 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5485-0088. Hours vary. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
prada building An architectural landmark that draws as many amateur photographers as serious Prada shoppers|Yoyogi Park ‘50s rockabilly types still twist at the mouth of this sprawling park|Takeshita dorI Tokyo’s trendiest teens literally rub elbows in this crowded lane filled with cheap fashion|Design Festa This gallery-cum-café/bar caters to young artists looking to exhibit their work| GYRE High-end boutiques from the likes of Chanel and Bulgari dot this trendy new complex|Meiji Shrine Tokyo’s biggest and most sacred shrine, where the sights are as much the grounds as the goths outside the gates| jingu stadium Home of the Yakult Swallows professional baseball team
Footloose & Fashionable
One of the best ways to experience Tokyo’s incredible diversity is by exploring the Harajuku and Omotesando areas on foot.
From Harajuku station, walk down Takeshita Dori, which starts just across the road. Here Japan’s youth congregate in full-on buying mode, jostling for space in tiny shops that sell everything from clothes to jewelry to photos of the latest Korean idols. If the crowd gets to be too much, sneak off to the tranquility of nearby Togo Shrine.
When you get to Meiji Dori, take
a right. You’ll soon come to the Laforet shopping and arts complex—the very definition of Tokyo teen cool. Take a left at the next big intersection up tree-lined Omotesando, home to outlets of some of the world’s chicest brands: Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, among many others. If you’re in the mood for a dose of kitsch, though, stop by Kiddy Land and pick up some Hello Kitty pillows or an Ultraman key chain. Just a little farther along is Oriental Bazaar—probably Tokyo’s most famous spot for souvenirs.
Don’t miss a detour down nearby Cat Street, which intersects Omotesando and is home to a mélange of grungy T-shirt shops, organic cafés and stores from the city’s up-and-coming design talents.
Continue walking up Omotesando, to Mizuho Bank. Make your way to the opposite side of Aoyama Dori and Spiral Hall, an ultracool, multi-use space that boasts an art gallery, shops and restaurants.
Take a left onto Kotto Dori at the next light. Here, Tokyoites’ design fetish is readily apparent, with well-appointed antique stores sitting next to funky homewares shops.
Walk up the narrow restaurant-lined street on the other side of Spiral, and turn left. You'll soon get to Dresscamp, one of Japan's most fashionable brands. Turn right and you'll find more seriously hip stores: Bapexclusive, Juicy Couture, Undercover, Y-3 and Attick (D-Squared), to name but a a few.
Take the next left, and you'll find yourself at the Prada store, an architectural wonder. You're also back on Omotesando (the narrow bit) lined with more brand stores including Issey Miyake and Dolce & Gabbana.
Make your way back past Prada to Omotesando Crossing. Before jumping on the train, sneak around the corner to Qu'il fait Bon for coffee and cake, or Limapuluh for a nice cold beer. You've earned it!