Neighborhood Guide: Aoyama
Aoyama (青山) is located in Tokyo, specifically, a neighborhood in the northwest portion of Minato ward. In Aoyama, the stunning visual architecture seems to reflect the dynamic energy from the ever-evolving fashion trends. Known for being a premiere shopping destination, many contemporary designer stores have flagship residences here. Classy and chic, you won’t be disappointed by the variety of dining and shopping choices at your fingertips.
Let’s take a moment for you to get your bearings. Kita-Aoyama (北青山) or “North Aoyama” follows the north side of Aoyama Street, home of Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium and the delicious homemade bread from Royal Garden Cafe. Minami-Aoyami (南青山) takes on the region south of Aoyama Street, reaching to the northern edge of Roppongi. Stop by SunnyHills, a popular Taiwanese pineapple cake shop in the area. The eye-catching, grid like design of this shop is built on the “Jiigoku-gumi” tradition, featured heavily in Japanese wooded architecture. Originally opened in 1872, Aoyama Cemetery is one of Japan’s first cemetery locations found in Minami-Aoyama. Many visitors stop by Aoyama Cemetery to view the sakura trees when in bloom and pay homage to the grave of loyal Hachiko. In the past, Aoyama was known for having many notable temples and shrines during the Edo period. The name “Aoyama” comes from a reputable samurai called Aoyama Tadanari who lived in the area.
Closest Station: Aoyama-itchōme Station (Ginza Line, Hanzōmon Line, Toei Ōedo Line) • Omotesandō Station (Chiyoda Line, Ginza Line, Hanzōmon Line) • Gaiemmae Station (Ginza Line) • Nogizaka Station (Chiyoda Line) – located in the southeastern corner of Minami-Aoyama adjacent to Roppongi
What to do
Touting some of the best fashion choices Tokyo has to offer, the Aoyama district has plenty of options for everyone. You won’t want to miss a chance to peruse the offerings at Comme des Garçons, BAPE or OriginalFake. International fashion labels like Vivienne Westwood and Miu Miu have flagship stores set up along Aoyama dori.
In love with Japanese street style or #obsessed with Lolita fashion? Head to Laforet, the fashion epicenter for practically any and every youthful style. This cutting-edge department store boasts over 5 floors of on-trend brands, while the basement levels house cult favorites like h.Naoto, Angelic Pretty and Putumayo. The sixth level is home to Laforet Museum, an entertainment space frequently used for art installations, launch parties or as a performance space.
Where to go: Blue Note
Named after the famous jazz club in Greenwich Village, New York City, Blue Note Jazz club is a bustling venue known for an eclectic roster of musical acts. Inside, the club has a full-scale restaurant for viewers to eat and unwind while watching a show. Indulge with a savory dining experience while listening to world-class musical performances in an intimate setting.
Where to eat
Coffee aficionados, make sure to check out Omotesando Koffee, a delightful hidden gem amidst Aoyama. Forget Starbucks for a moment and take a short break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bringing a taste of European elegance to the streets of Tokyo, Anniversaire Cafe captures the atmosphere of an airy corner café in Paris. Grab a quick espresso and settle down for some quiet people watching. Quirky and fun, bring a little bit of aloha to your day with Eggs n’ Things. Originally from Hawaii, Eggs n’ Things is known for their signature pancakes, waffles, and of course, eggs. With island inspired creations like guava pancakes, it’s easy to share some of these sweet breakfast staples, complete with a towering addition of whipped cream.
Not to be missed, Sushi Bar Yasuda is hands down one of the top recommended hotspots in Aoyama. With over 27 years of experience, Chef Yasuda Naomichi first established “Sushi Yasuda” in Midtown, New York in December 1999. After a three star win from the New York Times and numerous rankings within the top 10 restaurants in New York City, Yasuda decided to return to Japan. In December 2011, the signature “Sushi Bar Yasuda” opened its doors in Minami Aoyama and has been there ever since. After being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s popular television show, guests from all over the world rave that it’s one of their best sushi experiences in Toyko.
What to See
Not in a hurry? Take some time out of your day for a walking tour to soak in the sights. You don’t have to be a design buff to appreciate the architectural marvels found all throughout Aoyama. The flagship store for Prada Aoyama Tokyo is a spacious and airy designer’s dream. Designed by Swiss architect team Herzog & de Meuron, the glass marvel stands alone at six stories in the heart of the Aoyama district. In similar suit, the towering shopping mall Ao Aoyama is a step apart from all the rest. With a gorgeous modern design, featuring transparent floor to ceiling windows and a glittering array of lighting, Ao Aoyama is a definitive landmark of Aoyama. For a peaceful respite in the heart of it all, make a visit to the quaint Nezu Museum. The gardens are immaculate and evoke a Zen-like atmosphere. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the Spiral Building was initially commissioned by Wacoal in 1985. Today, it serves a multi-purpose role, with an avant-garde gallery space, cafe and myriad of shopping choices. With contemporary architecture and designer fashion, enjoy the modern lifestyle of Tokyo in Aoyama.