Tokyo – Shibuya – Harajuku

Amphitheatre seats at Omohara Beer Forest on top of Tokyou Plaza Tokyo, the largest metro area in the world, evokes images of crowds, neon lights and high tech gadgets. You could spend a lifetime here and still have much left to explore. Each of the different wards that comprise Tokyo are practically metropolises on their own, so whether you enjoy history, sightseeing, nightlife, hipsters, or just plain getting drunk and aimlessly wandering around, there is a place for you in Tokyo.

We started our day by walking from Shimokitazawa to Shibuya in under the sweltering sun. While walking around alleys and small streets seemed like a good idea at first, I would not recommend doing it for too long in August. There are plenty of shops and department stores for you to shop at in Shibuya and Harajuku, from the high-end stores on Omotesando Hills to trendy teenager fashion on Takeshita-dori. We opted to visit an interesting free exhibit at Espace Louis Vutton and afterwards landed in a toy store called Kiddy Land.  We ended our day in a rooftop beer garden on top of Tokyou Plaza

See & Do

  • Shibuya: One of the main wards of Tokyo, the main crossing outside Shibuya station is literally the busiest pedestrian traffic crossing in the world–if you’ve ever been to Times Square, Shibuya makes it look practically deserted in comparison. There is plenty to eat and drink on the pedestrian streets nearby once you are done shopping at some of the trendiest department stores on the planet. Rating: 4/5

Shibuya Crossing

  • Espace Louis Vuitton: To be honest, it was almost painful setting foot in this Louis Vuitton store in Omotesando, just knowing that people are spending insane amounts of money on handbags and such. However, they have a gallery on the top floor with an open art space–the exhibit on display when we went was called “Monuments of Traffic” by German artist Thomas Bayrle. The visit came with a nice collectible book explaining the exhibit–and don’t forget to check out the great view of Shibuya ward out the window! “Everybody is lonely, but nevertheless swimming in the mass.” Rating: 4/5

Espace Luis Vuitton Omotesando  Tokyo

  • Harajuku: Harajuku is famous for two areas, both directly related to fashion, but both catering to vastly different tastes. First is Takeshita-dori, a narrow pedestrian street that is filled to the brim with pre-teen and teenage girls trying out the latest in youth fashion from the small, independent clothing shops (the crepes here cannot be missed!). Second is Omotesando which is a wide tree-lined street that caters to the upscale end of fashion with world-famous designer shops like Louis Vuitton, etc. The contrast as you round the corner from Takeshita-dori to Omotesando is pretty jarring. Rating: 4/5

Takeshita-dori in Harajuku

  • Kiddy Land: Pretty cool toy store just off Takeshita-dori near the Harajuku JR station. Fun to kill a bit of time playing with the little toys. So many Hello Kitty themed items…Rating: 4/5

Harajuku Kiddy Land

Eat & Drink

  • Omohara Beer Forest: Nice little beer garden (forest?) set up for the summer on top of the Tokyu Plaza building. Unlike most outdoor bars in central areas back home, this place was not crowded at all and we were able to try out some delicious craft beers. It seems like most people stick to the usual Asahi/Sapporo/Kirin style beers so it was nice to break out of the mold. A few of the options we tried were the Pale Ale (strangely, not too hoppy for a Pale Ale), Orange Ale (tasted more like grapefruit to me), Pineapple ale (sweet and hoppy at the same time–bittersweet, even), and the Wheat Ale (not bad). At ¥500 for slightly under a pint, it was a nice way to spend some time relaxing on the rooftop under some trees. Rating: 5/5

Omohara Beer Forest Tokyou Plaza

  • Harajuku Gyoza Rou: Popular gyoza joint in Omotesando that usually has a long line to get in. These gyoza are freshly made and absolutely delicious. We came in a little early and managed to beat the line, and after finishing our first order we could not resist getting seconds. You have to make your own gyoza sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, and optionally a spicy sauce, so you can play around a little to see what suits you best. I’m getting hungry just thinking about this place. Should be noted that at least half the patrons will be smoking while eating their gyoza and drinking beer, so you get some free tobacco seasoning with your food. Rating: 5/5

Harajuku Gyoza

  • Midori Sushi: Famous sushi joint right in the middle of Shibuya station. I find it pretty interesting how train stations in Japan contain legitimately excellent restaurants (Jiro!) rather than the typical food-court style joints you get in other countries. The line for this place is usually insane, but eating at the bar usually offers a slightly shorter wait than a table. We ended up getting some sushi to-go, which unfortunately is not as good as getting a delicious omakase prepared in front of you, but is still better than pretty much any sushi you can get in any other country. Rating: 4/5

Midori Mark City Sushi Shinjuku

  • Marion Crepes: There are two crepe joints on Takeshita-dori that are fairly well-known: Angel’s Heart and Marion Crepes. You really can’t go wrong by picking either of them, and one crepe is way too filling to try both at once (but hey, you can give it a shot if you think you’re hungry enough). We decided to go with Marion Crepes this time and got some sweet crepes with chocolate, cheesecake, ice cream, strawberries (the works). The way it works is you look at the glass display and pick the crepe you want, then give the number to the cashier. Knowing the numbers in Japanese really helps out (it’s really not too difficult to learn!), but if English isn’t working out for you, pointing frantically will generally get the job done. You’ve gotta really be into sweet and heavy stuff to truly appreciate this. Rating: 4/5

Harajuku Marion Crepes


  • Airbnb near Shibuya: We rented a small little apartment a few stops from Shibuya about a 10 minute walk from Shimokitazawa, and it ended up working out really well. The apartment itself was extremely convenient to have, and staying in a residential zone instead of a touristy one is a lot more fun. Shimokitazawa ended up being a great place to wander around at night for snacks and drinks without having to worry about catching the late train. One minor downside to the apartment was that there was no TV–but then again, we didn’t come all the way to Japan to watch TV. One major upside of our apartment (and it seems, more AirBnB rentals in Tokyo) is that they offered a free pocket WiFi device. So not only did we have WiFi in the apartment, we could bring the little device with us anywhere in Tokyo so we had full internet access on our phones for free, everywhere. It’s seriously genius, why is this not the standard everywhere? If I ever open up my own AirBnB place, this idea is going straight to the top of the list, as it makes life infinitely easier for foreign visitors. $531 for 4 nights. Rating: 4/5

Visit Date

  • 08/16/2013

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