|Destiny Rose's Guide to Omotesando|
Where is Omotesando?
Omotesando is a shopping avenue as well as a subway station and neighbourhood in the Minato and Shibuya wards in Tokyo which stretch from Harajuku station to Aoyama-dori where Omotesando station can be found.
How do I reach Omotesando?
Arriving at Omotesando is not a difficult task! In order to reach Omotesando, coming from Ikebukuro I boarded the Yamanote Line - which is a very useful line as it contains some of the most popular shopping areas in Tokyo such as Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Akihabara etc - and then changed lines at Shibuya station. Now, from Shibuya, you can reach Omotesando station by taking one of three possible lines - Chiyoda, Ginza or the Hanzōmon line. I chose the Ginza line and arrived in Omotesando within a matter of minutes! Easy right?
However, whilst exploring the area, I discovered by chance that you can also reach Omotesando even if you went to Harajuku station on the Yamanote line! Starting from Omotesando, I passed the hugely popular department store "La Foret" and then just by walking through the amazing shopping street in Harajuku called Takeshita Dori, I found myself at Harajuku station which is literally right opposite the entrance of Takeshita Dori! So if you are in Harajuku, instead of going back onto the train, you can just walk to Omotesando which is good as you will also save money!
So, what exactly is in Omotesando?
Omotesando is an upscale area in Tokyo where you can buy a lot of high quality luxury goods. Some of the high scale, up-market stores which you will see are Gucci and Louis Vuitton amongst others and like all Japanese stores, they are maintained well and kept clean. However, If you want to shop in Omotesando, you don’t have to be a rich man! There are other places! There are places which sell cheaper products! For example, there is the famous not to mention extremely popular toy store called Kiddyland - which if you were to compare it with London's toy stores, it would be like the Japanese equivalent of Toys 'R' Us or maybe even Hamleys. Upon entering Kiddyland it was not hard to see why it is extremely popular amongst both adults and children! Here, there is a diverse range of products and various kind of toys which appeal to those of all ages. Products by Sanrio such as Hello Kitty is particularly prominent here as well as other Sanrio characters and there are also popular characters such as Rilakkuma by San-X.
One of the first thoughts which entered into my head was “Wow! What is this? It’s like a toy heaven!” When I saw all the Rilakkuma products, I strongly thought it was like love at first sight! I could hear the products sweet whispers and I knew that I had to buy something! I had to buy something at all costs! I found all Rilakkuma products on one of the upper levels of the store. It was a whole floor full of Rilakkuma products! Exciting!
In addition, as you walk down this street of well-known stores, you will see other places that you may be familiar with such as The Body Shop and internationally well known make-up store MAC. However, if you would rather shop at places which have unique Japanese concepts, then there is a cool hat store called CA4LA which specialises in funky different looking hats which are not too cheap or too expensive!
On the other hand, if you do feel like splashing out, then there is always the beautiful shopping centre, Omotesando Hills, which houses more luxury boutiques such as Jimmy Choo amongst others; and there are also an array of cafes and restaurants where you can rest and grab a delicious meal - or beverage/dessert - to help give you some energy before continuing your shopping extravaganza!
However, if you prefer to go and buy something quick - such as an ice cream - instead of sitting in a cafe or a restaurant; then as you stroll along the long strip of Omotesando, you will come across a Family Mart which are scattered everywhere around Tokyo! Family Mart is like a newsagent but here you can buy sushi and salad packs from the fresh food section which you can't buy in London's newsagents; and in some Family Mart's, there is even a hot food section next to the till point where you can buy items such as sausages, burgers, and chicken wings! Here, you can also buy other food goods; like the usual things that you can buy from a newsagent such as cold/hot drinks, sweets, snacks and newspapers and magazines to name a few!
Finally, if you need or want to sit down and rest for a few minutes, then there are a series of long railings along Omotesando where you can sit down under the multitude of trees which line the strip which is very useful especially in the Summer! The trees act as a sun blocker keeping you cool as you sit and relax or enjoy whatever delicious product/s you have just bought from Family Mart.
Omotesando is a lovely area to go to! Even if you don’t buy anything, you can just enjoy walking around the area taking in all of the sights and all of the different and interesting shops! I particularly like this area because it connects to Harajuku so once you have finished exploring Omotesando, you can just stroll down into Takeshita Dori thus arriving in Harajuku! On a final note, most of all the stores in Omotesando are lined up next to each other, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find where you want to go! If you compare it to an area in London, I think that it resembles the area of Knightsbridge.
Everyone, go to Omotesando!
*Images two through four are (c) Destiny Rose Ibekwe
Destiny Rose Ibekwe is a journalist, novelist, blogger and Japanese teacher. As a lover of Japan, she is always seeking to learn more about its culture. Through her Japanese website, people can find out about cools shops in London, as well as eateries, sweets and much more. Check out her website, Facebook and Twitter.