I love walking around Tokyo. Above all, I like to explore those narrow back streets that are hidden behind the main streets. Here, there is always something new to discover, like newly opened cafes and small restaurants. Also, these streets tend to be less crowded.
My last walk took us through the “Azabu-juban” district and its back streets. This time, I’ll go on a walk and explore the back alleys of “Omotesando”, the Minami-Aoyama area. Join me!!
Omotesando and Harajuku in Tokyo are famous for fashion. State-of-the-art fashion brands and new trends are born from this area. While Harajuku area is mainly a fashion Mecca for young people, the Omotesando area offers mainly luxury brands for adults.
When you leave the A5 exit of Omotesando station, walk down the alley heading East. It won’t take long and you will find the first brand shops.
The building in this area are quite distinctive. Being an architecture lover, for me this area is a place where I constantly want to press the shutter button and take pictures of the stylish buildings. I especially liked the building of “COMME des GARÇONS” (famous for its T-shirts with a heart symbol on the chest) and “Prada”.
Let’s do some shopping!
Proceeding down the street, I arrived at a building with several brand shops, called “From 1st”. Among them is a shop of the famous Japanese towel brand “Imabari Towel”. As I entered the shop, I was surprised about the variety of different towel types.
There were lots of white towels lined up on a long shelve. Although they looked the same they felt different when I touched them. “Imabari Towel” has towels for all ages and genders. It’s a nice shop for buying gifts for family and friends. When I visited, they also had cute towels with animal motives. I bought a towel with a cute “fox pattern” (for myself^^).
After you reach the “From 1st” building, turn right and go straight ahead. You will see a path leading to Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum on the left. Even if I do not know who Taro Okamoto is, I would definitely recommend you to visit this small museum of modern art. Taro Okamoto is called “the Picasso of Japan”. After you visit the museum, I bet you’ll say: “Wow! I can’t believe that there was such an interesting artist in Japan!”
In the immediate vicinity of Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum, there is one of my favorite stores in Tokyo: “SOU · SOU KYOTO”. This shop is a great place to buy “Japanese” souvenirs.
After you’ve passed “SOU · SOU KYOTO”, you’ll reach a big main street. Here, turn right. There are lots of high-class and unique shops along this street. Again, this is a great place for window shopping. When you turn to the right at the last corner before you reach Aoyama Street (at a jewelry shop called “Niessen”) and walk 100m, you will see a nice restaurant with a big terrace on the right side.
Time for a break!
At the entrance, there is a bicycle with a big bread. When you see the bread, you know you’ve found the restaurant area. Actually, there are three shops: “CICADA” (a restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine), a bakery (“Breadworks”), and cafe called “Crisscross”.
The atmosphere was great and the cafe looked yummy, so I decided to have a break at cafe. I ordered “Buttermilk pancakes with whipped cream, vanilla sauce and macadamia nuts” and a “Clubhouse sandwich”. The price is quite expensive, …but everything I ordered was outstanding!!
When I told the staff that I really love their pancakes, the staff was really happy and told me a story: “Actually, there was a time when we took our macadamia nut pancakes off the menu. There is a couple that comes to this cafe on a regular basis. They love our macadamia pancakes. Every time they came, they would ask about the pancakes and why we stopped selling them. One day, they brought macadamia nuts from their home and sprinkled them over one of our other pancakes. We saw that and finally realized that it was tome to sell macadamia nuts pancakes again. Since then, these pancakes are our bestseller.”
It was a cute story, but actually very convincing: these pancakes are addictive!
From “Crisscross”, it’s only a few meters and you’ ll reach the main street where the “Omotesando station” is located. The back streets of the Omotesando area are great for window shopping and looking at the latest fashion trends. There are a lot of brand shops that have an artistic touch to the, Maybe, that’s the biggest difference between Ginza and Minami-Aoyama. Also, it’s a great place to shop for unique Japanese souvenirs of high quality and to visit art museums. If you need some “artistic stimulation”, this is the place to go! The main street at Omotesando and Harajuku are also great, but if you want to see something new, that’s not listed in guide books, I recommend the back streets of Omotesando!
Imabari Towel Minami Aoyama Store
FROM – 1st, 5-3-10 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
SOU · SOU KYOTO Aoyama shop
A La Croce 1F, 5-4-24 Minato-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
6-1-19 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Crisscross Omotesando (Cafe)
5-7-28 Minami Toyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo