Omotesando is one of the most pleasant (and most expensive) neighborhoods in Tokyo. As a major luxury shopping destination, it’s also home to some of the most amazing examples of “human-scale” modern architecture that you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Omotesando neighbors the very famous area of Harajuku. The contrast though is very prominent and striking. You could say that Harajuku is filled with cheap shops that target a younger crowd, whereas Omotesando is for a more luxurious spender and is second in line as being the leading fashion area of Tokyo (Ginza being the first).
What to eat and drink in Omotesando
Cheapo friendly and trendy wendy favourite alike, Commune 2nd is top spot to stop at in Omotesando, particularly after dark. It comprises of an indoor/outdoor collection of bars and eateries with a communal space in between, and is frequented by many of Tokyo’s young creatives, fashionistas and beardsmen. There’s a variety of eating and drinking options from vegan, to craft beer all very reasonably priced. A great place for a social evening, and you may well stumble across the Tokyo Cheapo crew as we often have our regular “Downtown Drinks” meet up there.
And did someone say avocado? If you’re into the green superfood fruit, then you won’t be disappointed with this foodie number Madosh. This restaurant is simply avo obsessed—so obsessed they even have hanging avocados from the ceiling and avocado tables. There is a lunchtime set menu and you can choose from a variety of mains including rice bowls with tuna and salmon and veggie food with a tofu-style version of taco rice. You can of course get even more mains that are piled with the green stuff and you can even ask for more avocado if that wasn’t enough for you. You can even order avopuccinos to drink and you can add a variety of different syrups. Not just for veggies and vegans, the avocado is becoming a number one staple item for many.
With more avocado, comes more hip sushi. Heiroku Zushi in Omotesando is a super cheap place for a quick pick me up of sushi. Avocado double shrimp is one of the trendiest options here, so it’s not for the more traditional sushi lover. With pieces going for 136-504 yen, try here for something that’s well-loved for the area. Expect queues of other eager tourists though.
With avocados comes hipsters. And with hipsters come quirky coffee shops. Lattest is a great shout for some decent coffee in the super cool Omotesando district. This trendy espresso cafe is never too crowded and offers a gorgeous cup of java. We all know that good coffee can be hard to find in this city at times, so go to Lattest for your morning caffeine fix.
The list doesn’t stop here—cheapo food options abound with branches of La Boheme, budget sushi chains, family restaurants and super cheap noodle places, just keep an eye out.
What to do in Omotesando
Architectural eye candy
Omotesando is the heart of modern architecture. So one of the best things to do in this area is simply to wander around and soak in all the views of the buildings. And you can see all theses buildings without spending absolutely any money! From the The Audi Forum, on the left side of Meiji Dori, from Gyre, a retail and restaurant building, there is a heap to wander around and look at. A keen favorite is the Prada building. This piece of architecture is outstanding, especially at night, when it lights up from inside. There is space around the building which makes it stand out even more and proves just that bit more eye-catching. Go inside this one, the world can be viewed through the giant lenses, making it all look a bit warped! For more inspiration of where to find other modern architecture pieces in the area, check out our walking tour.
The Espace Gallery is also a great little find in the area on the top floor of the Louis Vuitton store. It is a contemporary art gallery with regularly changing displays. You can get great views of the surrounding area too, and it is all absolutely free of charge.
Ladies and gents, New York’s Museum of Modern Art has opened its first shop outside of the US in Tokyo. MoMa Design Store is located on the third floor of the Gyre building in Omotesando. Here you will see a haven of goodies and treats, with over 1,800 on display and lots of them being exclusive to the MoMa. This place is one of those places for a quirky souvenir or gift with unusual gadgets, toys and accessories to buy.
Omotesando is chic through and through, so to the Omotesando Hills if you fancy a really expensive treat for yourself or indeed just a wander and admiring look at all the luxurious goodies on offer. This is elegance, high-scale and high prices. With the likes of Yves Saint Laurant, Dolce & Goabbana, Jimmy Choo and much more, this might just be more of a window shop, but there are great places to oo and ah at what’s inside. The Omotesando Hills also boast wonderful cafes and restaurants too and are well worth a visit.
For the kids
On the other side of this quirky shopping location, comes the one, the only, Kiddyland. Well known in the city for being the place for all things kiddy, Kiddyland is indeed paradise for children and of course adults too. You will see reams of people browse heaps of toys from Disney Frozen ranges, to Ghibli gems. With pretty much anything you can think of in terms of merchandise, chopsticks, packed lunch boxes, clothes, the lot—you are in for a treat to take you back to your childhood. Right on the main Jingumae street, it’s a prime location for this area. Expect lots of plastic, noise and so much darned cuteness here.
Don’t leave Omotesando without going into Oriental Bazaar. It is the go-to spot for souvenir buying in the area. There are four floors with everything Japanese you would think of to buy for loved ones back home from kimonos, miso soup bowls, green tea cups to Japanese design books translated into English. You can find this shop from a mile away, being easily recognized thanks to its exterior replicating a Japanese shrine. Prices here are very reasonable for what you get despite its luxurious setting. An essential shopping destination.
Where to stay in Omotesando
Sakura Fleur Aoyama is a great stay in Omotesando. Set in a brick building with a quirky and vintage lobby, this is a hotel with an elegant difference. The hotel is only a six-minute walk to the train station which links to other trendy area such as Shibuya. There are great facilities in the hotel and you can upgrade your room to include sitting areas with sofas. Children over 12 are welcome. A very stylish place with a retro decor—something different for Tokyo. (Sorry, you’re not going to find any dirt-cheap hostels in this luxurious neighborhood.)