My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: December 9, 2019
Flanked on three sides by Tokyo's premier hubs of neon and nightlife—Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi—the streets of Aoyama and Omotesando are cut from slightly more elegant cloth. This is an upper-class area of boutique shopping and sophisticated dining. Flagship stores of major fashion brands rub shoulders on the tree-lined boulevard of Omotesando—Tokyo's answer to the Champs Élysées—and the backstreets of Aoyama are home to small boutiques and highly acclaimed dining spots. The area offers quiet open spaces of seasonal color such as Meiji Jingu Gaien and Aoyama Cemetery, as well as a host of architectural and artistic highlights.
Omotesando Station is on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, and the Hanzomon and Chiyoda lines. You can walk to the area easily from Gaienmae Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Aoyama-Itchome Station on the Hanzomon and Toei Oedo lines, and Meiji-jingumae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines. It takes around 10 minutes to walk from Harajuku Station to Aoyama and Omotesando, and around 20 minutes from Shibuya Station.
From Haneda Airport: 55 minutes by train to Aoyama and Omotesando.
From Narita Airport: One hour 45 minutes by train to Aoyama and Omotesando.
From Shinjuku Station: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Shibuya Station and transfer to Tokyo Metro Ginza Line for Omotesando Station. Travel time: 16 minutes.
From Tokyo Station: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Shimbashi Station and transfer to Tokyo Metro Ginza Line for Omotesando Station. Travel time: 19 minutes.
Drop by Omotesando in the summer months and the tall trees that line the boulevard will provide you with some well-needed shade. Head here in the winter when the trees are illuminated to add some sparkle to your brand browsing. The area respects the seasons throughout the year, particularly in the Japanese fashion houses such as Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto with their distinctive, seasonally changing shop window displays. The shopping complexes of Omotesando Hills and Gyre are packed with well-known fashion labels that also hold seasonal and pop-up events.
Not simply a place to lighten your wallet, the district of Aoyama and Omotesando is home to a number of art spots as well as many spectacular structures by some of the world's most acclaimed architects. Browse an experimental exhibition at The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, in a building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. Counteract the contemporary with the premodern by visiting the Nezu Museum and diving into its collection of Oriental antiquities and national treasures—all wrapped up in a renovated building by architect Kengo Kuma. Enter the mind of Japanese abstract and avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto at the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum designed by Junzo Sakakura. You can also take in world-class architecture while you shop since many of the fashion buildings are products of elite architectural minds. Tadao Ando had a hand in the design of Omotesando Hills, and Dior Omotesando is a product of Japanese architectural firm SANAA. Toyo Ito is behind Tod's Omotesando Building, and Gyre came from the minds of Dutch architectural firm MVRDV. The often-photographed Prada building in Aoyama and Miu Miu Aoyama were designed by Herzog & De Meuron.
A highlight of any trip to Tokyo is tasting some world-class fare, and in Omotesando you get the chance to savor what's trending in the city's fast-evolving food scene. For natural and organic food, get a table at the vegan bistro Restaurant 8ablish or a seat on the breezy terrace of Royal Garden Cafe Aoyama. Brown Rice Canteen is an organic restaurant put together by natural health and beauty store Neal's Yard. Both Sincere Garden and Three Aoyama combine vegan dining with a range of organic skincare products in their spas, shops and restaurant. If you feel inspired to cook yourself or gather the makings of a picnic, the shelves of organic supermarket Natural House are lined with healthy products, and the stalls of the weekend farmers market at the United Nations University are bursting with fresh produce and tasty snacks.