Tokyo: Harajuku and Aoyama

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Omotesando Boulevard is at the heart of Harakuju, a trendy shopping district that spawns outrageous styles. Aoyama caters to an older, more chic clientele and has the highest concentration of outlets.

SEE Omotesando architecture
Jingumae (between Meiji-Dori and Aoyama-Dori)
The crumbling but beautiful pre-war dojunkai apartments have been razed, but this avenue is still an architect's delight, with creations such as the Tod's Building (Jingumae 5-1-15) by Toyo Ito, the Dior Building (Jingumae 5-9-11) by Sanaa, and the not yet completed Omotesando Hills (Jingumae 4-12) by the current darling of Japanese architecture, Tadao Ando. All are within a stone's throw of each other.

SEE Prada Boutique Aoyama
Minami Aoyama 5-2-6, 011-81-3/6418-0400
Even if you're not in the market for a $700 cashmere sweater, this breathtaking edifice of convex glass diamonds by Herzog & de Meuron is a stunning sight.

SEE Yoyogi Park
Just behind Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line
Famous in the '80s for its tribes of hip rockabillies. It's still the spot to sneak a peak at some of Tokyo's most outlandish hobbies and their practitioners. The rabbit group meets regularly to trade bunny tips and show off their long-eared pets on leashes. If you're lucky, you'll also catch the ukulele group strumming "I Fought the Law" and other rock classics. Good weird fun.

EAT Chao Bamboo
Jingumae 6-1-5 (just off Omotesando), 011-81-3/5466-4787, bamboo.co.jp/chao
Delicious Southeast Asian food in unpretentious surroundings. The fresh Vietnamese spring rolls and mild to-die-for green curry draw a dedicated stream of regulars. Be prepared to wait on weekends.

EAT Harajuku Gyoza
Jingumae 6-2-4 (opposite Chao Bamboo), 011-81-3/3406-4743
Line up with those in the know at this lively restaurant for some of Tokyo's tastiest--and cheapest--gyoza (fried or boiled dumplings). Sit at one of the long wooden tables, or try a counter seat to experience the kitchen-patron banter.

EAT Heiroku-zushi
Jingumae 5-8-5 (on Omotesando), 011-81-3/3498-3968, heiroku.jp
Technology and sushi unite. Novices can inspect passing plates on a conveyor belt, choosing whatever looks appetizing. Good quality dishes start at a very economical $1 per plate (2 pieces).

DRINK Carmenere
Omotesando Jingumae 4-4-7 BF1, 011-81-3/3401-6779
Some 70,000 Swarovski crystals provide added sparkle to this swish basement champagne bar frequented by Tokyo's young and beautiful. Arrive before 9:30 p.m. for one of the coveted counter seats in front of the crystal mural. From $15 for a glass of bubbly. Cover charge (for men only): From $9.

SHOP A Bathing Ape
Minami Aoyama 5-5-8, 011-81-3/3407-2145, bape.com
Tokyo's coolest street label. On the second floor, smart new sneakers ride round and round on a sushi conveyor belt. The best buys, however, are the iconic T-shirts. A recent one featured a crossover Planet of the Apes meets Che Guevara image on the front. From $50.

SHOP Bunkaya Zakkaten
Jingumae 3-28-9, 011-81-3/3423-8980, bunkaya.co.jp
Jesus and Mary chopstick rests and Jackie O. sunglasses made out of buttons are among the cheap trinkets at this cheerful little shop dedicated to kitsch. One of many fun boutiques in the narrow backstreets running off Omotesando avenue.

SHOP The Daiso 100 Yen Shop
Jingumae 1-19-24, 011-81-3/5775-9641, daiso-sangyo.co.jp
A frugal shopper's paradise located on crowded Takeshita-dori street, the capital of cool for Tokyo's teens on the hunt for anime character notebooks, cute stickers, make-up and other must-have items. Everything in the four-story emporium costs 100 yen (90¢), plus tax.

SHOP Pet Paradise
Jingumae 1-6-5, 011-81-3/3497-0379, creativeyoko.co.jp
For those who like to play dress-up with their dogs. Canine costumes for sale include lamb suits and fire fighter outfits.

SPLURGE Henshin-Studio Mon Katsura
Jingumae 4-28-4, 011-81-3/3470-0027, henshin-maiko.com
Create your own Memoirs of a Geisha with a makeover and photo session. Women can don an exquisite kimono and voluminous wig and smile demurely through perfectly painted lips. Men are transformed into samurai. Makeovers available daily 11 a.m.--4 p.m. Reservations a must. $105 for women, $43 for men; prices include three photos.

HARAJUKU WHO?

The legions of now-famous Harajuku girls (and some guys) keep growing and morphing. Their eye-popping styles are easy to spot--punk hipsters, cartoonish girly-girls, ghetto fabulous hip-hoppers. Shop alongside them at Laforet, a complex of over 100 trendy boutiques (Jingumae 1-11-6 , Shibuya-ku, 011-81-3/475-0411, laforet.ne.jp), and along the crowded main drags: Takeshita, Meiji-dori, and Jingumae.

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