Urban Oasis

Harajuku Crossing

The main intersection of Harajuku, where Meiji Street and Omotesando cross, is surprisingly nondescript. On one corner is a bank, with Jonathan's, a popular family restaurant above it. On another corner is another bank, with a small clothing boutique and a cafe adjacent to it. The third corner is occupied mostly by Condomania, a store that sells pretty much one item - condoms. The fourth corner has been the only "major" tenant, Tokyu Plaza, the owner of one of Tokyo's major private railways and department stores.

Tokyu, not surprisingly, is the major player in the Shibuya/Harajuku area, with the 109 franchise, Tokyu Hands, Bunkamura, and the Tokyu Department store all under its very large wings.

The newest Tokyu Plaza, now with the Omotesando Harajuku label to distinguish itself, is distinctive for two very attractive reasons.

Oh, what the deck!

The rooftop deck is without a doubt the best reason to visit Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku. The only tenant on that floor is Starbucks. You don't have to buy a coffee to have a seat outside, but that is what most of the people are having when they are sitting outside.

The deck has many chairs, including park benches, quaint chairs, and sort of stadium style seats in almost a wooden amphitheater. There are some areas that are reasonably private.

Being on the 6th floor in a rather low-rise area gives a fairly good view, mostly towards Shibuya, Aoyama, and Ebisu. There is a great view of the old Harajuku icon, Laforet, the old prestigious castle of the Mori Bldg. Empire, now a relic of the bubbly days of yesteryear.

Grand entrance

The other distinctive feature of the Tokyu Plaza is its entrance. With the escalators rising up into the darkness, surrounded by mirrors, the building looks very grand.

The architect must've imagined the building to be a beckoning cavern, luring tourists and shoppers inside. When I visited last week, fittingly, the entrance was guarded by a giant Maleficent.

But the best view of the building is not going up and in, being swallowed by the beast. It is the ride down the escalators. The view is wonderful. A bit short, much like a jet coaster, but the mirrors and the light give a strange sense of disorientation, like going through Alice's Looking Glass to another parallel universe.

But then, perhaps, it is so. After all, you get outside, and it is Harajuku. With cosplay kogals, maids, crepe stands, and Condomania, it just might be another world!


by mikekato

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