Sweet & Elegant – An Omotesando Afternoon
Welcome to an afternoon of luxury and sweetness in Omotesando, Tokyo’s premier fancy neighborhood. Omotesando (表参道), whose name refers to a road leading up to a shrine, was originally constructed in 1919 as an elaborate entranceway to Meiji Jingu, an important shrine and one of the largest green spaces in this part of the city. Now, it is synonymous with upscale shopping, eating, fashion, and art, and is conveniently located right next to kawaii culture mecca, Harajuku. Omotesando has its own Tokyo Metro subway station connected to the Ginza, Hanzomon, and Chiyoda lines, but you could also get off at JR Harajuku station or its adjacent Meiji-Jingumae station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines).
I suggest starting your afternoon off with a fresh and healthy lunch amid bouquets of flowers at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House. This is most easily reached by alighting first at Omotesando station. Aoyama Flower Market is a brand of flower and plant store that you may have seen in other JR stations or department stores. This is one of its Tea Houses which is decorated beautifully with different seasonal flowers every week, giving the cafe a lush greenhouse feeling, accentuated by the glass tables and large windows. Their delicious lunches, mostly sandwiches and salads overflowing with colorful vegetables, are perfectly paired with seasonal herbal teas and flowery desserts. Be warned, however, it opens at 11 daily yet takes no reservations in advance so be prepared to wait a little in line.
After finishing your lunch, take a short walk to Omotesando Hills, a designer shopping mall where you can stroll through luxury goods in an architecturally interesting building. It is also surprisingly child-friendly, with its sloping walkways and gentle music perfect for a stroller or baby-carrier nap (I speak from experience!) and Kids no Mori [Kids’ Woods], with all the fancy baby and toddler goods you could need. While shopping, why not stop to grab something sweet at one of the cafes, such as the Parisian Hugo & Victor, equipped with comfortable sofas, to sample some chocolatey goodness?
When you are finished in Omotesando Hills, saunter along Omotesando's main drag until you reach Tokyu Plaza Harajuku Omotesando, a more affordable but still luxe-feeling shopping plaza where you can enjoy a spending spree that is easier on your wallet. It has a great selection of cosmetics in the always enjoyable Isetan Mirror store as well as a Cosme Loft version of Loft on the fifth floor which sports adorable accessories, umbrellas, and souvenirs. There are also some cute-style fashion stores for women to explore, such as Jill by Jill Stuart and Tocco Closet. Definitely do not miss posing on the kaleidoscopic mirror-surrounded escalator in the front of Tokyu Plaza for fashionable and space-age photos!
Finally, end your tour with Candy Show Time’s flagship store, where you can pick up colorful and seasonal candy souvenirs. Candy Show Time specializes in handmade candies that are as pleasing to the eye as to the palate with words and images emblazoned onto the little cylindrical treats. With rows upon rows of small bags of candies–some themed, such as with varying fruity flavors, you can certainly find enough sweets to indulge in as well as sugary souvenirs for friends and family back home. Make sure to check out whatever the seasonal specialty is. One summer I particularly enjoyed a watermelon candy which looked like a tiny version of the fruit itself and offered a pleasantly tangy and sweet pop of flavor.
Hop back onto the metro at nearby Meiji-Jingumae station and enjoy the fruits of your luxurious and delectable Omotesando afternoon!