This walk starts calmly, on the long gravel paths that twist and turn through the majestic forests of the (1) Meiji Shrine (Kamizono-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku). Back outside the shrine, on the pedestrian bridge over (2) Harajuku station and in nearby (3) Yoyogi Park, the calm is often broken on Sundays by Elvis impersonators and rage people, many dressed in costumes based on manga (comic books). From the footbridge, you’ll get a good look at the (4) Yoyogi National Stadium (2-1-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku) built in 1964 by architect Kenzo Tange.
Back down the stairs, cross the street that parallels the train tracks and head left. In about 220 yards (200 meters) you’ll see an arch over the side street reading “Takeshita Street.” This is (5) Takeshita-dori, ground zero for Japanese youth fashion. A walk down the street is always cacophonous and eye-popping, past clothing shops and creperies.
At the traffic light, turn right at the wide avenue Meiji-dori, and at the next light you’ll see (6) La Foret (1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) on the corner, a multistory mall for the latest in design. Inside, there are lots of little boutiques that are constantly changing.
Back on Meiji-dori, cross the street and continue on the tree-lined boulevard Omote-Sando; a gallery of works by renowned architects from around the world. Most are across the street, so this is your best vantage point for buildings including the (7) Christian Dior store (5-9-11 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the (8) Japan Nursing Association (5-8-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) by Kishio Kurokawa, (9) Louis Vuitton (5-7-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) by Jun Aoki, and (10) Tod’s (5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) by Toyo Ito. On the left side of the street is (11) Omote-Sando Hills (4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) by Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando. Its flat facade conceals a soaring interior of internal walkways around an atrium.
Also across the street is the traditional roof of (11) Oriental Bazaar (5-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku), one-stop shopping for Japanese crafts and souvenirs, mostly mass-produced (many in China).
Continuing along the right-hand side of Omote-Sando, cross the wide avenue Aoyama-dori, and after about 220 yards (200 meters) you’ll see the glass trapezoid of the (12) Prada Aoyama store (5-2-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku), one of the world’s most noted buildings of the past decade; designed by Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron.
A short walk back to the corner of Aoyama-dori takes you to the (13) Omote-Sando subway station, from where three subway lines will take you almost anywhere you want to go.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.