Love! We’re back to another post of my Tokyo Journal about shopping, dining at Shibuya & Harajuku/Omotesando! For those who missed the first post about our adventures in Akihabara, Ueno and Asakusa (that… if you call shopping an adventure), read all about it here.
This journal today is quite a challenge, what haven’t I posted about Shibuya and Harajuku before? It seems like my Tokyo days always rotate around these two bustling fashion/commercial/shopping areas and both are dangerous to my wallet. Not crime wise, more like the spending wise (or uncontrolled spending, while we’re at it. Do. Not. Roll. Your. Eyes.)
But who can blame us? Shibuya and Harajuku are not only Tokyo’s, but also Asia’s renowned fashion centers, where everything from designer brands, indie labels to vintage/second hand shops are overflowing, brimming on every corner. Everyone is either pretty, trendy, kawaii or all three. Some lady would pass me with her neutral colored matching linen outfits and a rattan basket bag hanging on her elbow and I’d be like “I want that basket bag! That’s it! The only thing missing in my life is a basket bag!”
Seriously, if you want to learn a thing or two about self-control, stay in Shibuya or Harajuku for a few days.
I stayed in Shibuya mostly for the convenience. The train station is the hub for most of the major JR trains and subway lines; which makes it a breeze for me to commute around the city. Moreover, Shibuya has lots of selections of great cafes, bakeries and restaurants. If it’s your first time in Tokyo, I really recommend you to stay in Shibuya to soak up the whole Tokyo vibes. It’s not quiet and it might be a bit pricey, but everything you need here is within walking distance so you will save more on your transportation cost.
So let’s start with our way in Shibuya. First, start at the Hachiko Station Exit and join the flocks of pedestrians passing the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Pick one direction, any direction. Or you can do what I always do, just take all of them. Wear your headphones, listen to your favorite song and cross the road eight times (totally optional, of course, but this never gets old to me. I have my Shibuya Crossing dedicated playlist.)
Tsutaya Bookstore is located on the end of one of the crossing, and you can get your Triple-venti half-sweet non-fat soy-milk 4-pumps hazelnut-macchiato (no foam)* at the Starbucks on the second floor. Choose the window seat and watch the crossing pedestrians from above. It’s a bit hypnotizing; in every positive way.
*Seriously, if you’re that kind of person who orders your coffee like that, I don’t think we can hang out. I am talking to you Pak Irv.
If you can resist the temptation, walk around the Udagawacho areas and do some window shopping. If you can totally resist the temptation not to buy anything; tell me how. With the bright neon signs, blinking lights, pop music blaring from inside every store, it might be a bit overwhelming at first; but after a while you’ll get used to it.
Harajuku is the epicentre of Tokyo’s teen fashion and vintage stores for decades. If you want to try your first experience immersing in Tokyo’s quirky and edgy youth culture, start your way from Harajuku Station, which is conveniently located in front of Takeshita Street (the Youth Capital of Tokyo) and it’s also close to Yoyogi Garden (which also well worth the visit with its magnificent torii gates and serene atmosphere.)
Takeshita Street is the iconic pedestrian only shopping street in Harajuku which attracts thousands of local and international visitors every day. This is also the ‘birthplace’ of Lolita girls, kawaii culture, crepes and Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (if you don’t know who she is, google her and get suffocated in blasts of rainbow visuals.)
If you are more interested of luxury designer brands, concept stores and less of young girls in cosplay clichés, start from Meiji-Jingumae Station, where you’ll end up in Omotesandō. Omotesandō (表参道) is also known as as the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo, filled with high end shops, cafes and great restaurants. This broad, tree-lined street starts from Laforet and Tokyu’s Plaza (both are department stores catering to high street to high end fashion) and stretches all the way to Omotesando Hills and Aoyama Dori.
Cat Street in Jingumae, connecting Harajuku and Shibuya, is the hipster heaven also known as Ura-Harajuku. It’s located inside one of the smaller street turns in Omotesando. Here’s where you’ll find lots of streetwear, sportwear, indie designer brands and vintage stores; as well as hipster cafes and restaurants (read: highly instagrammable.) I wrote about Jingumae / Cat’s Street earlier this year, see more photos of it here.
Against all the purpose of self-control, here are my Favorite Places/neighborhood to Shop in Shibuya and Harajuku:
Jinnan 1 Chome
This is the street where you can find the hippest clothes from streetwear brands to casual wears: Supreme, Neighborhood, BEAMS, Ships; as well as the second hand treasure troves: Ragtag, Rinkan, Grimoire, Pmoor, and many others.
Japan Alpha Industries jackets are somehow more fitted to the Asian size than the normal ones they sell online. Who doesn’t need a good lightweight bomber jacket? Or a camo utility jacket while you’re at it.
Jingumae, 6 Chome−19−16, U-NATURAビル
If you only have time to visit one street in Tokyo for shopping, make sure it’s this one. Jingumae 4 Chome is located right behind Tokyu Plaza, and is filled with world’s favorite streetwear brands, sneakers shop and second hand treasures.
Cosme Kitchen at Sibuya MODI
If you only allow natural/organic product to touch your skin, Cosme Kitchen is your place. You can find a bigger Cosme Kitchen in Daikanyama Station, but this branch at Shibuya MODI will also cater to all your natural/organic beauty needs. They source their goods from around the world, and their product curation is amazing.
1 Chome-21-3 Jinnan, Shibuya
Opening hours: 11am – 9pm
Matsumoto Kiyoshi / Seijo
or any other cosmetic/drugstore in front of the Scramble Crossing
These bright neon lit stores might look overwhelming on your first visits. Thousands of products stacked densely against each other; curation is definitely not key. You need a bottle of eyedrop? Well, choose from 300 little boxes from the dedicated rack; all inside cute packagings and each promises a better quality than the other.
22-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya
Opens everyday 24 hours.
For last minute gifts for the people back home, head here to browse six floors of it. The second floor is the beauty section. A.k.a. dangerous. You might think you only need a mascara to replace your empty tube, but as minutes passed; you’re grabbing that little shopping basket and everything started to pile up.
21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya
Opening hours: 10am – 9pm
If there’s a retail temptation I will always fail to succumb myself to, it’s here in Tokyu Hands. This place, though might be confusing at first, is a 8 stories store that sells just about everything you could ever need. Tokyu Hands is known and loved for its massive selection of all kinds of goods, from stationeries, household goods, travel, electronics, crafts and hobbies to beauty and skincare products. From designer items to “Made in Japan” goods, there’s a lot to be discovered among the aisles of Tokyu Hands.
Each floor has sub-level A, B AND C – each level slightly staggered – so a total of about 3×8 = 24 floors. Despite the overwhelming number of products and multitude of floors, each section is neatly organized with information on each floors to make it easy for visitors.
12-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya
Opening hours: 10am – 9pm
Lush Shibuya & Lush Harajuku
You’ve read why I’m always in love with this organic beauty brand, its sweet smelling shop filled with colorful slabs of soaps and extra-photogenic (lack of) packaging of the 100% handmade products. If we are on the same boat, then be happy because Lush has two big stores both in Shibuya and Harajuku.
2 Chome-3-1 Dōgenzaka, Shibuya
Opening hours: 11am – 9:30pm
1 Chome-13-11 Jingumae, Shibuya
Opening hours: 11am – 9pm
Tokyo Travel Guide : Breakfast/brunch
J.S. Pancake Shibuya
Fluffiest, most buttery pancake I’ve ever had. If you’re in Tokyo during autumn, don’t miss their season special pancake, the super decadent Monburan (Mont Blanc). Thick, fluffy and buttery pancakes covered with creamy chesnut puree piped in like pasta-like layers and topped with sweet caramelized chestnut.
Pastry makers in Japan celebrate autumn by creating beautiful (and delicious) chestnut based Japanese or western style desserts. This pancake was hands down one of the best autumn breakfast/desserts (depends on what time you’re having it) I’ve ever tasted. However, if you don’t have a sweet tooth (but why?), they also have great selection of savoury pancakes.
1 Chome-20-17 Jinnan, Shibuya
Opening hours: 11am – 9pm
HangOut HangOver (halal)
I came here twice because the chili rice I had the night before was enough reason to pay another visit. Also because it’s only a stone throw away from my apartment. Hangout Hangover, conveniently located behind Shibuya MODI, is an American styled diner with great selection of western menu. It’s also a chill hangout space in the evening (while being hangover is totally optional.)
1 Chome-20-2 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
Opening hours: 11am – 12pm
Unagi Matsukawa (halal)
If you’re into unagi bowls, the one they have here is a must try. It’s located right in front of the scramble crossing (the writing is in Japanese but here’s a google map link to make it easy). Once you get there, you’ll feel that you just leave the whole bustling urban surroundings outside and enter a quiet, traditional sanctuary. The portion is BIG but you’ll lick every bit of it.
Ichiran Ramen (non-halal)
Seriously revered by lots of people; and I still don’t understand why. I include it here more for the experience, not 100% the taste. But if it’s me versus the 50+ people who gave a 4 star rating on Google Map/Tripadvisor and the long line outside the ramen shop, I’d stay stick with the larger number. You know, you might like it.
I call this the loner ramen joint. Upon getting a place (all computerized and numbered and reminded me of a parking space. You know, the light blinks green when the seat is free), you’ll find yourself sitting on the booth/table, separated from other people next to you. There’s a folding shutter in front of you, which will remain shut all the time except when the server is taking/delivering your order.
Normally people are queuing in front of the Ichiran Ramen Jinnan; my advice is, go to the other branch, the Ichiran Ramen Spain Saka-Slope/Udagawacho, two minutes away from the main branch. The line is much more civilized here.
Ichiran Ramen Shibuya
1-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya
Koyasuwan Building B1F 13-7 Udagawacho, Shibuya
Yakitori Nanbantei 南蛮亭渋谷店
The Jinnan building where the abovementioned ABC is located also houses a steak house and this yakitori joint. Take the elevator and stop at 2F. I came here when I was totally famished and the long line in front of ABC Ramen was a nightmare.
I don’t know whether the skewers were just that good or I was that hungry. Either way, I will come back to this place just for their heavenly chicken ball skewers. But that’s not their only specialty, at Nanbantei you can expect a great variety of vegetable, beef and chicken skewers, grilled to perfection by the chefs on the open charcoal grill in the center of this small traditional restaurant. It’s a bit pricey though, so be prepared. However, the quality of the food and the cozy atmosphere definitely make up for it.
南蛮亭渋谷店 Nanbantei Shibuya
Jinnan 1 Chome-22-7, Shibuya
Another yakitori restaurant, this one is in Jingumae 4-chome, right in front of the Neighborhood shop. Unlike Nanbantei which is a small, traditional restaurant, Toriyoshi has a big space that can accommodate larger groups. Aside from their specialty (yakitory, obviously), they also have lots of other delicious options on the menu.
Jingumae, 4 Chome−28-21
Alright babes that’s the Tokyo journal for today. Stay tuned for my next Tokyo adventures soon! Kisses.12