Tokyo: Omotesando – Japanese for Champs Elysees?

As you could see from the map attached here, Omotesando is in the same area where Harajuku is; five minutes from where Takeshita Dori ends, tree-lined Omotesando Avenue begins.

Omotesando is sometimes referred to as ‘Tokyo’s Champs Elysees’, but I personally thought the glitz is more understated here. Instead I saw conceptual resemblance to Manhattan’s SoHo, with the same subdued presence of high end fashion stores. The italicized sounds like an oxymoron, but if you’d been to SoHo, you would know what I mean. An interesting fact which I got from Wikipedia was that Tokyo’s annual St. Patricks’ Street Parade happens here. I had no idea the Irish had reached so far :)

We didn’t go all the way to the end of the avenue (where Omotesando Station is) and toured the area’s side streets mostly, in hopes of finding a public space where we could sit down and feed Miss Z. We weren’t hungry, so lunch at a restaurant was not on the agenda yet. Plus the idea of getting inside a tiny room (the size of most street level restaurants) with our stroller gave me a mighty cringe.

The streets were lined with boutiques and cute little stores. Some were quite expressive in their sense of style.  There were also lots of small restaurants, bars and cafes, hidden like gems in the compact buildings.There were people walking in both directions, but the area is mostly pedestrian so the noise level was minimal. That fact brought on an atmosphere of unexpected tranquility. Especially for a city of that magnitude. Even on a Sunday.

In that context, the vocal procession of men on the picture below immediately attracted everyone’s attention. The men were carrying what looked like an object of worship on their shoulders and were chanting something while slowly pacing forward. If any of you knows what this was all about, please share. I’d love to add a meaningful explanation here.
And while Omotesando may be theoretically more mainstream than Harajuku, the proximity of Harajuku meant that youngsters with a penchant for the unique (be it clothing or accessories) were not an uncommon sight.


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