F The hills are alive with the sound of raining yen. - jeepneyjinggoy

The hills are alive with the sound of raining yen.

The Zelkova tree-lined avenue of Omotesando, "Tokyo's CHamps-Elysees" 

Where: Along Meiji Dori
Scene: Window shopping (only)

EVERYTHING happens for a reason, this much is true. Point in case, why else would I be in fashionable district of Aoyama for the day, heaven and haven for the stylish, and the birthplace of the infamous Harajuku Girls, if I can’t be rescued from an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction?

I was not even through my first hour of my Shibuya fashion safari. Among the many stores, I was absorbed in this all-organic shop the most. I went through their products like a quality controller, the pure cotton clothing colored with natural dyes was truly impressive. From top to bottom, I scoured the shelves, and as I lowered to squat, the most horrific sound resonated in the room. No, I didn’t expel gas. It was my trousers’ rear ripping open.

No witnesses. A cardigan to camouflage ground zero, I exited the shop and strutted along the avenue in my “cool” refashioned garb.

With this fashion district listed for the day, I had to condition myself not to shop. The circumstance said otherwise. A new pair of pants was called for, and the lifesaver loomed on the far end of the street- H&M. I scored a couple of pairs, it seemed the most affordable in the area. I had a strong feeling that just around the corner, it will be different.

Lifesaver. H&M is one of the affordable stores in the area.

Welcome to Omotesando,

The Zelkova Trees lining this famous street, one of Tokyo’s busiest, somehow balance the scene. It is a pretty and refreshing sight, but what flanks it is even prettier- the flagship stores of international luxury brands. These shops are artworks, architectural showcases designed by internationally renowned architects: Aoki for Louis Vuitton, Herzog & de Meuron for Prada, Ito for Tod’s, SANAA for Dior, to name a few. Making themselves as noticeable were the striking boutiques of Gucci, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Cartier, Chloe, Armani and many more.

Luxury brand shopping along Omotesando.

For these labels to erect such structures, their cash registers must be ringing. Listen to the rhythm of the pouring yen. It doesn’t surprise me, the consumer trend has moved to these parts of the globe targeting Asia.

Surprisingly, there are those stores on the more affordable level. In fact, the side streets branching the avenue are worth a visit. Take for example Cat Street on the Northern side of Omotesando. The pedestrian only road offers a younger and funky vibe to shopping and dining at no designer label cost. It was so great to lose myself in this maze.

Meow. Prowling Cat Street in my new pants.

ET phone home later, Elliot eat first. Seen at Cat Street.

Although the area doesn’t have as much shops as there is in Ginza, Omotesando is often referred to as “Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees.” Maybe because of the long avenue, maybe because of the trees flanking the road, maybe because at the end of the road there is another famous sight one must reach and see, as the Arc de Triomphe is to Champs-Elysees. Makes sense to me.

It should. Omotesando is exactly that. Created in the Tashio era, it is the road that leads to the Meiji Jingu Shrine, another of Shibuya’s must visit sight. Omotesando comes from "omote", meaning “frontal” and "sando", means “approach.”

And that’s where it is leading me now.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 28, 2011.

The flagship stores of these luxury brands are artworks, architectural showcases designed by internationally renowned architects.