Tokyo's Omotesando district can be likened to Beverly Hills in California or the Champs Elysees in France - there is high fashion, designer labels, and on trend merchandise as far as the eye can see. The main thoroughfare of Omotesando is lined with every high end brand name you could think of, from Prada to Louis Vuitton, Celine to Chanel, Fendi, Balenciaga and more -- but delving into those back streets or looking in between the big names for the lesser known gems will have you discovering some fun, quirky and unique stores that you may not have known about before. Here are some spots to be discovered by deviating off the well trodden main drag.
Pass the Baton
Surprise - Pass the Baton is actually on Omotesando's main street, but it's sandwiched in between big name stores like MAC Cosmetics and Ralph Lauren. It's also situated on the second floor basement of the building it occupies, so it's one of those "hidden in plain sight" cases. A lot of people pass it by without delving inside, which is a shame because Pass the Baton has a ton of cool and quirky stuff on their shelves. They call themselves a "new recycle shop", and have everything from clothing to figurines, jewelry to homewares and more. The back of the store also has space that is regularly used for displaying artwork from local creatives - so you might manage to get a gallery experience and a shopping trip all in the one location.
If you'd like to visit Pass the Baton, the map details are below. The store is open from Monday to Saturday from 11am until 9pm, and on Sundays and holidays from 11am until 8pm.
If you love trawling through fun vintage clothes, Long Beach is the perfect spot to stop by. From dresses to denim, sweatshirts to skirts, and a good smattering of interesting hats and shoes, there's always something unique to find on the racks here. They've even got fun vintage goods for kids - it's perfect if you want to find something for your little one that all the others at kindergarten won't also be wearing! If you need a bite to eat after your hunting for treasures at Long Beach, Franze and Evans is right by there, if you want to try one of their epic Eton Mess smoothies.
Stopping by Long Beach? The map details are below. The store is open from noon until 8pm seven days a week.
Kura Chika Yoshida
If you're after a sturdy leather travel bag, briefcase, or even a backpack that is handmade in Japan, Kura Chika Yoshida are worth a visit. They're a company with staying power, and have been producing their leather goods since 1935. They stand by their products, too - if you purchase a Yoshida product that starts to wear, they'll repair it for you. There's a workshop attached to the Omotesando Store as well, so if you want to see the artisans in their element you should be able to do so.
Planning a visit to Kura Chika Yoshida? The map location is below. The store hours are from noon until 8pm - public holiday hours or closures may apply, so do double check their Facebook page if you're planning a special visit.
I had walked past this backstreet building many times in Tokyo, wondering exactly what it was. Looking somewhat like a game of Jenga gone wrong, the architecture of this place is worth a visit in itself - the designer who came up with this piece also designed the nearby Nezu Museum which is a great place to add to your Tokyo itinerary. You might be wondering what's inside the matchstick building - is it a big name designer? Is it a cute clothing boutique? Nope - it's a store that houses a pineapple cake shop that has its origins in Taiwan. Come for the cool and unique aesthetic, stay for the cake and tea.
For some cake and tea at Sunny Hills, check out the map location below. The store hours are from 11am until 7pm daily.
If you love window shopping and you want to see some quirky and eccentric fashions, then Undercover is a good spot to stop by. The pieces at Undercover are created by the Japanese designer Jun Takahashi, and the flagship store here has expanded to several other locations both in Japan and overseas. Whilst the clothing here might not be everyday street wear for most of us, it definitely makes a fun spot to swing by and take a gander. If you need a nearby spot for lunch, check out the Aoyama Flower Market Tea House for an equally unique spot to grab a bite to eat.
The map location for Undercover is below, and they're open from 11am until 8pm seven days a week.
Super-a-market is located in Minami Aoyama, just a couple of minute's walk from the Omotesando Tokyo Metro Station's A4 exit. The store has various clothing and accessories for sale, but the way they display them is particularly different to some of the other stores in the area. The store's philosophy is that they display their items like what you'd expect in a supermarket or drugstore, irrespective of their price tag value - because in their eyes, all the products are seen as equals. Unique, no? As well as being a fun boutique to browse, their window displays are updated regularly - so even if you don't pop inside you might still want to walk past if you'll be nearby.
You can find Super-a-market at the below address, and they're open from 11am until 8pm daily.
6% Dokidoki is another backstreet boutique that straddles the line between Omotesando and Harajuku - but as you may already be able to tell, they have a much more out there Harajuku vibe than a refined Omotesando one! The store itself is just about impossible to miss, being decked out in hot pink and yellow - and the inside follows the same trend. Stocking all manner of brightly colored clothing and accessories, this is the perfect place to head to if you need a break from everything in neutral colors that you may see in some Omotesando designer label stores.
Want to brighten up your time in Japan? Head to 6% DokiDoki at the address below. They're open daily from noon until 8pm.
Flamingo is another spot that's hard to miss once you find it - there are literally neon flamingos out the front, hence the name. There are a couple of other Flamingo locations in the trendy hubs of Shimokitazawa and Kichijoji, and the location here in the Omotesando/Harajuku area has a bit of everything - from men's and women's clothings to shoes, accessories, and even fun jewelry. Having some of the items for sale displayed on vintage furniture is just another of the charms you'll find at the very endearing store here. The Flamingo Store location in the Omotesando area is on the map below. They're open weekdays from noon until 9pm, and weekends from 11am until 9pm.
Hopefully some of these fun boutique stores might pique your interest if you're in the area - Omotesando is also worthy of a visit not just for the shopping, but for all the tasty eats. A stop at the Dominique Ansel Bakery might warrant some time, perhaps?!