Omotesando   表参道

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Omotesando Avenue has become a showcase for major international brands.

Omotesando Avenue has become a showcase for major international brands.

Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and other major brands are located on Omotesando Avenue.

Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and other major brands are located on Omotesando Avenue.

Omotesando is also called "Champs-Elysees" of Tokyo.

Omotesando is also called "Champs-Elysees" of Tokyo.

The vanity of appearances

Going down the avenue, which is on its way up, makes wanderers and shoppers looking for their brands, swoon in ecstasy.

Located near the Meiji-Jingu and the nicely crazy district of Harajuku, Omotesando is a concentration of stores and spectacular buildings. Here, where there's no yen, there's no fun!

In a decade, the atmosphere has changed. The past charm has faded. The latest dôjunkai homes built in 1927, following the destruction of Tokyo caused by the great earthquake of Kanto, four years ago, were razed to the ground. Since the 1964 Olympic Games, Japanese designers have transforming apartments into workshops and art galleries. It is already ancient history.

Today, in their place, the architect Tadao Ando has created a bewildering shopping complex, Omotesando Hills, which opened in 2006. Added value for developers and large luxury houses have decided to invest, after Ginza, this new commercial stronghold. A wound for the nostalgic.

The wide, tree-lined Omotesando Avenue, which stretches from the entrance of Yoyogi Park in Aoyama, has become a showcase for international brands. Elegance and trendy compete in audacity and ever more chic excessive projects. These external signs of wealth seem to defy the social and economic reality of the country. Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Tod's, Prada, Emporio Armani, Ralph Lauren and many others have all constructed flamboyant buildings imagined by the biggest names of the time such as Ito or Jun Aoki. The samurai of Japanese fashion, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons hold rank here. Other brands do not hesitate to get into the big league, following the example of the Japanese brand Uniqlo, or the Spanish brand, Zara.

Unexpected places attract passerby. The Oriental Bazaar is full of antiques and memorabilia. Nobody escapes Laforet, a trendy conglomerate on eight floors, at the intersection with Meiji-dori. Finally, more fun for the little ones, the big toy store, Kiddyland, and for grown ups, Condomania, a shop selling all kinds of condoms and sex toys.

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