Aoyama: The Wealthiest Neighborhood in Tokyo

Learning about Aoyama, Japan

Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, has gained popularity in the world as the country’s center for business and globalization. It is home to a total of 23 central city wards. Aoyama, or also known as Aoyamadori, is considered as one of the richest neighborhoods in the entire city of Tokyo. It is located in Minato, one of the wards of the city. It is located in between Shibuya and Akasaka. There are international fashion brands, restaurants, and cafes in the area making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The entire neighborhood is divided into two known as the Kita-Aoyama and the Minami-Aoyama. Kita-Aoyama is the “northern” area while the Minami-Aoyama is the “southern” area of the region. The northern area (Kita-Aoyama) is more popular when it comes to shopping and entertainment while the southern area (Minami-Aoyama) is more residential.

History of Aoyama

Tokyo is well-known as Edo during the earlier times and has been an integral part of the Japanese history. Aoyama has been originally owned by a clan of the same name whose estate has expanded vastly from Shibuya to Akasaka. During this time, it is home to temples, shrines, and even homes of the samurai clans.

Through the centuries, Tokyo has developed into a buzzing city center and has taken with it the development of all city wards, including the neighborhood of Aoyama. World-famous companies have taken their local headquarters in the area including Louis Vuitton Japan, Prada, Comme des Garcons, and more. This has turned Aoyama into one of the wealthiest regions in all of Tokyo.

Memorizing the Aoyama, Japan Map: Trains and other Means of Transport

Aoyama, Japan, and the Nearest Airport

Since the neighborhood is located in Tokyo, the nearest and largest airport within its vicinity would be the Haneda Airport taking roughly 40 minutes of travel.  To get from Haneda Airport to Aoyama, a traveler must take the Keihin Kyuko line to Shinagawa costing around 400 yen and takes about 20 minutes. Then, from the Shinagawa station, a train to Shibuya on the JR Yamanote line must be taken.

Aoyama, Tokyo by Train

Going to Aoyamadori by train is quite easy and it can be reached via different railway lines. Taking the Ginza Line or the Hanzomon line, Aoyamadori could be reached via the Aoyama-itchome Station. From the Chiyoda line or Ginza Line, it could be reached via the Omotesando Station. Via the Ginza line as well, a traveler can get down at the Gaienmae Station. Lastly, anyone who wishes to go to Aoyama and Roppongi hills at the same time, people can take the Chiyoda line and go down at the Nogizaka station. There are timetables, maps, and tourist guides available at hotel reception desks so it might be a good idea to ask around to avoid getting lost.

Most Popular Eats: Aoyama, Japan Cafes, and Restaurants

1. Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

The Aoyama flower market tea house is one of the most famous shops in Tokyo. A simple window shopping experience that is filling for the eyes and the soul, the flowers being sold in this place is a sure feast for the senses. A surprise at its finest, inside the flower shop, lies a small tea house that offers tea of various fragrances and essences.

Most of the tea flavors they offer are essences of flowers, among the most popular is the Rose tea. There are also herbal, healing essences being sold in the tea shop. The food is also adorned with edible plants and flowers which make them not only really pretty but interestingly delicious.

What makes the tea shop special is that it gives off a feel of a glass greenhouse. There are small glass tables fitted inside a glass shop surrounded by shrubs, plants, and flowers. An admirable place to go to, it is a photo-worthy must-see during any travel to Japan.

2. Forest Beer Garden

What is interesting about this place is that it is a family-friendly space compared to more traditional beer gardens. There is a buffet that serves food and drinks available for all members of the family. It is also located in the outer gardens of the Meiji Shrine right at the children’s play area, an interesting place to be located.

A number of visitors enjoy going to this place because it gives off a nice twist between grilled food and nature. It usually closes at around 10:00 PM every day and opens at around noontime during the weekends. On the other hand, it can only accommodate 1,000 seats per day. Since it is the largest and most popular beer gardens in all of Tokyo, it is often fully booked. So, visitors are advised to book ahead of time.

3. Bird Café

With the popularity of cat and dog cafes on the rise all over the world, a new twist to the restaurant industry is underway. Known as the Kotori Café located in Omotesando, it is home to colorful birds such as cockatoos and parrots. For those who are curious, birds will not be seen flying randomly around the shop. There is an interactive zone at the back of the café where visitors can enjoy a short visit with the birds.

Aoyama Japan Guide: Things to do in Aoyama

1. Window Shopping at the Omotesando Street

This place is the highlight of the entire Aoyama district and is found in Kita-Aoyama. It is home to mid- to high-range fashion boutiques. Many fashion experts claim that if a brand is not found in Omotesando, then it is nothing but a minor brand. On top of all fashion shops and houses, Omotesando is also home to popular cafes and restaurants.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in this street is the Omotesando Hills which was opened by the same developer that created Roppongi Hills – an upscale shopping district in Tokyo. It boasts of an interesting 6-storey building that features a three-floored basement and three-floored upper structure.

2. United Nations University Head Quarters

The United Nations University was established in 1973. It is an institution which aims to involve academics from all over the world and communities in policy-making. Its headquarters is located in Tokyo. Among their main tenets would be global health, peace, security, human rights, and much more. They aim to involve the youth and make them aware of the latest global issues being faced currently all over the world. Visitors could join forums, bazaars, and even seminars visiting the area.

3. Icho Namiki Avenue

Although Tokyo has an image of urbanization and modernization, it is a surprise for many to find a number of open spaces in the region. One popular place located in the Aoyama district is the Icho Namiki Avenue which is home to rows of Gingko Trees. Its name literally translates to “row of Gingko Trees”. This place is most popular during the autumn season, turning the avenue into a photography and film setting.

4. Cat Street

The Cat Street is one of the longest shopping streets in all of Tokyo which extends from Harajuku to Omotesando, even reaching a part of Shibuya. This place is the go-to shopping district of most young generation Japanese and is considered to exhibit only the hippest in Japanese Fashion. It is a pedestrianized street or a place in a city reserved for pedestrians only and vehicles are strongly prohibited.

What must be taken note of is that the place is not literally infested by cats, a disappointment to most animal lovers. The name has been obtained from the idea that due to the conversion of the street into a pedestrian zone, all shoppers are required to walk while strutting in their edgy, fashion-forward clothing.  This turns the entire street into a “catwalk”, similar to a stage used in fashion shows.

5. The Killer-Dori Street

It was in the 1960s to the 1970s when Tokyo has started to become the fashion center of all of Tokyo. One of the most popular streets that have gained popularity during this time is the Killer-dori or Killer Street located in Minami Aoyama. It is one of the popular places to shop for Haute Couture fashion. A number of tourists enjoy window shopping in this place.

Its name was based on the image and vibe that the district wants to portray – when the “cool bad” trend was starting to get popular at the time. Other more superstitious people believe that it was named aptly because of the ever transient fashion trends that are being exhibited on the stores on this very street.

6. Aoyama Cemetery

Although it is a cemetery, this place is a popular tourist attraction in the region. It has been built during the Meiji area and has gained popularity due to the fact that it is the first public cemetery in the entire country. During the earlier times, most cemeteries are owned by families or clans whose main purpose is to provide a memorial to their most distinguished ancestors. However, the ever-changing culture of Japan has pushed for a cemetery that will be open to the public that anyone can be buried inside it.

 Since this was the first public cemetery of Japan, it has been the home of the remains of many foreigners who died in Japan during the earlier times. Even today, it is one of the very few places in Tokyo that has its own foreign section. Among a few notable people buried in this place are William Clark Eastlake – The Dental Pioneer of the Orient, Frederick William Strange – Founder of Competitive Rowing in Japan, and more.

Another popular grave in the entire cemetery is the memorial of Hachiko, the every loyal dog who has gained popularity throughout the world due to his faithfulness and dutifulness to his owner. Other than the popular graves, the Aoyama cemetery is also a great place to view the Cherry Blossom blooms during springtime. Many Tokyoites prefer spending Hanami in this place because the beautiful Cherry trees uplift the vibe of the entire cemetery.

7. Akasaka Palace

Considered as a National Treasure of Japan since 2009, this palace is one of the official accommodation for state dignitaries visiting the country. It was built in 1909 for Crown Prince Togu and was a home for the Imperial Family until it was opened to state use since 1974. The entire compound gives tourists and state visitors a feel of what it is like to live like a Japanese royalty and its court.

Only opened to the public officially by 2016, there are certain parts of the palace which are open for public access all year-round. Unfortunately, since visitor number could go as high as 3,000 per day, the interior of the palace is off-limits to walk-in visitors but access could be gained through a guided tour and advanced bookings.

8. Aoyama Gakuin University

The Aoyama Gakuin University was established in 1874 and is Japan’s oldest school offering higher education. It is a 104-year old school which was established by the missionaries of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Based on the school’s statistics, it educated and educates roughly 20,000 students at the latest. Since it was first established, it has graduated around 160,000 students in total. Among their most famous institutes is the Research Institute of Aoyama Gakuin University, Global Politics and Economy Research Center, and Center for Machinery Analysis.

The school is a popular tourist destination because of their age-old buildings which are commonly used for films and photography. Among the popular halls in the entire campus are the Berry Hall and the Majima Memorial Hall.

9. Honda Welcome Plaza

This is the primary headquarters of Honda that offers up a view of the car company’s new prototypes of their latest products. It is also the best place to see Asimo the robot – one of Japan’s popular personalities.

Reasons to Travel to Aoyama, Japan

A visit to Aoyama, Tokyo is one of the best places to go to in Japan. It is home to the most fashion forward trends. Anyone who wishes to live in luxury can enjoy a relaxing trip to Aoyama. It is home to the country’s most popular shopping districts, entertainment centers, museums, and world-famous restaurants. This is the place where most of Japan’s trends originate. Tokyo is a highly urbanized city that must not be missed by anyone traveling to Japan.