Tokyobling's Blog

Omotesando at Night

Posted in Places, Shops by tokyobling on December 3, 2013

Few areas of Tokyo are as famous as Omotesando, the 1100m long street leading up to the huge Meiji Grand Shrine. Officially Omotesando street is known as Route 413 but in common use the name refers to the street and the immediate surroundings. The Omotesando Boulevad begins in Minato Ward but ends in Shibuya Ward. Since Omotesando is quite possibly the most fashionable address in Japan shops will use the name even if they are not on the street itself. The street is home to several high brand flagship stores and to have a shop on Omotesando is generally regarded as the ultimate in the Asian fashion world. Naturally, the rents here are astronomical.

In a country of ancients Omotesando itself is a mere baby, having been inaugurated in 1919 together with the Meiji Grand Shrine. The boulevard is lined by zelkova trees, 163 of them, all but 11 of which were planted in 1950 to replace the ones that perished in the American air raids 1944-1945. The prewar trees are marked out with special plaques if you are interested in some serious tree spotting (look for them near Omotesando Hills)! The alignment of the street is calculated to correspond perfectly with the winter solstice. On that morning, the sun will rise exactly above the street. Up until 2003 there were also a few buildings left from the first western style public housing project in Japan, the Dojunkai council houses. Most of them survived the war but very little remain today. I remember the absolute contrast in architecural style (as well as pricing in rents!) from the old concrete council estate on the right side of the street and the massive luxury brand stores on the right! After the war, and during the Korean war, a large US Air Force Base (Washington Heights, of which today there is only one building left) was housed in nearby Yoyogi and Omotesando prospered as a shopping street. The area became even more famous during the 1964 Tokyo olympics and in 1972 the subway station on the other end, Meijijingumae Station, opened (Omotesando station opened in 1938).

Since 2009 Omotesando has been illuminated during December, giving extra strength to the nickname of “the Champs Aliases of Tokyo”. I’ll blog about the illuminations later this week!

You can use the tag “Omotesando” to see all posts about this area.

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13 Responses

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  1. samokan said, on December 3, 2013 at 5:05 am

    I love walking here. Brings back memories :)

    Like

  2. dragonlife said, on December 3, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Life is so different at night Intriguing!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:08 am

      It sure is. I just wish the shops around here were open a little longer! (^-^;)

      Like

  3. Angela said, on December 3, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Love and miss omotesando and Tokyo :(

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Thank you for the comment Angela! I hope you get a chance to visit soon!

      Like

  4. travelingilove said, on December 3, 2013 at 9:01 am

    @samokan, I was about to write the same thing ;)

    Like

  5. C said, on December 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    That last pic looked familiar: I was just there, at a yoga studio in a nearby alley. Wish I coulda seen it before 2003. Some of the architecture is cool, but I felt out of place with all the somber fashionistas. Then I saw a bunch of schlumpy-looking guys and felt better :)

    (Seriously tho, why do fashion people have to be all snooty? San Francisco had its first fashion show a few months ago, and in true “we have to be different” style, called it “celebrate your body” with half the models as normal people: different ages and sizes. It was hysterical — men and women just working it and enjoying themselves! Then the typical models got on stage and everyone got quiet. I didn’t realize how skeleton-like they were until seeing them next to normal peeps. And sad looking too!)

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

      Well, if you have an industry built on being newer and better and cooler you can’t be completely egalitarian right? That would just ruin it all! haha…

      Like

  6. Dina Farmer said, on December 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I have been there before! It was a very beautiful place. I once took belly dance lessons there! They had really cute shops. We used to stay in Hiro-o and then would hope on the train to there. It was so nice to just be there. Although I’d never say super fashionable. LOL

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

      Hiroo is also a nice place! I haven’t been there for ages! (^-^)

      Like

  7. alisaw said, on December 4, 2013 at 11:26 am

    The only Ben and Jerry’s in Japan is here haha. Love this place!

    Like


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