Omotesandō bleeds luxury. Up and down the boulevard, you’ll find rows of deluxe Western and Japanese designer stores. But there’s more to this avenue than classy clothes and big-ticket boutiques.
Not only is Omotesandō conventionally located right next to Harajuku, it also hosts some of the best architecture, brunch spots, and free art galleries you’ll find in Tokyo. Take a stroll and see for yourself, but before you do, check out our recommendations.
1. Marvel at Tokyo’s architecture
Omotesandō is one of the best places in Tokyo to see the fruits of award-winning architects. On almost every corner and down every side street, you’ll find a taste of what makes Tokyo architecturally unique. We are so in love that we even have a dedicated walking tour.
Let us introduce a few of the impressive — and superhero-sounding — buildings. We have The Iceberg: tall, blue, and pointed; Gyre: stylish and multifaceted; and The Kaleidoscope (Tokyu Plaza Omotesandō but I think my name is cooler): enough reflective surfaces to drive you mad.
Don’t forget the luxurious sidekicks Prada and Dior; the streets take on a new look when these buildings light up at night.
2. Live the high life
We love rooftops with free entry and great views (just take a look at our list on the subject.) On the sixth floor of Tokyu Plaza Omotesandō, you’ll also find a miniature oasis, one with an aerial view of the crossing down below. Omohara Forest Rooftop Garden has a Starbucks on the same floor, but you don’t need to spend big bucks to enjoy the atmosphere — grab a snack from the convenience store and head on up.
Another brilliant view of the area can be found from the top of the Louis Vuitton building, which brings us to our next entry.
3. Gallery hop
We don’t hide the fact that free art galleries are our jam. A place to feel cultured and stare at beautiful artwork? Count us in. It also doesn’t hurt to visit on a rainy or unbearably hot day.
One of the most interesting galleries is Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, which displays contemporary artwork by artists from around the world on the seventh floor. If that doesn’t interest you, you could always just stare out the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. You should also visit the Gyre complex. It is not only pretty on the outside; on the third floor, they have a free gallery that often displays new and upcoming contemporary Japanese artists.
You’ll find many cafes-turned-galleries and independent stores selling art in this area. Keep your eyes peeled.
4. Overspend on brunch
You could say that Omotesandō was made for that peculiar time between breakfast and lunch (though, let’s face it, brunch is an all-day affair). Groups of girlfriends prowl the boulevard looking for a spot to gossip at, and luckily, there are enough brunch spots to facilitate their needs. Pancakes tend to be the food of choice. Try La Fée Délice for a fancy version of Harajuku’s crepes or A Happy Pancake for fluffy pancakes served from 9 a.m.
Those who want something more substantial may prefer the savory spots Bills — remember to reserve — Mr. Farmer, and the perfectly titled Mercer Brunch Terrace House. The latter also happens to do afternoon tea, a staple of Omotesandō after 2 p.m.
If brunch ain’t your thing, you can always blow your budget on a cup of coffee instead.
5. Take in the beauty of the boulevard
The tree-lined avenue of Omotesandō changes throughout the year. Take advantage of this rare Tokyo sight that fits perfectly into every season. The leaves turn golden in autumn, the streets fill with dancers in summer during the Yosakoi festival, and thousands come to see the Omotesandō Winter Illuminations light up the boulevard in December.
6. Look — don’t touch — the high-end labels
Don’t let the rows of fancy fashion stores intimidate you; they won’t know your pocket is as empty as Tokyo during Golden Week. Plus, these western flagship stores are meant to entice you inside — that’s why so many of them (e.g., Ralph Lauren, Emporio Armani, rag & bone) also serve coffee.
But if going inside fills you with dread, window shop instead. In Omotesandō Hills, for instance, you’ll find limited-edition clothes and collaborations that are worth a cheeky peek and a brilliant slanted interior designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. The toilets aren’t too shabby either.
7. But go crazy for these souvenirs
Once you’ve exited the fancy stores empty-handed, you could always stop off at some more affordable shops and maybe even consider buying a present for a loved one — or yourself. As Omotesandō is a top tourist spot, there are many stores that cater to those hunting for the perfect souvenir.
You have Kiddy Land, for cute, fluffy plushies and kawaii characters; B-Side Label, for funny and artistic Japanese stickers, posters, and t-shirts; Niigatakan N’ESPACE, bringing you specialties from Niigata Prefecture; and MoMa Design Store, for cool gadgets and designer gifts — to name a few.
Still stuck? Check out our Things to do in Harajuku for more ideas around the area. Walk 15-minutes and also try some activities on our Things to do in Shibuya list.