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May 11, 2010

Sea of Shoes Guide to Tokyo

I've been to Tokyo three times now, and I'd like to think of my tour of Tokyo as the Hardcore Shopper's Tour. I go for the clothes. It's the ultimate trip to make for avant-garde enthusiasts. While I've only seen a limited amount of what Tokyo has to offer, I'm afraid my list is pretty hefty. See below for my picks.

Hotel and location are important-some of the larger hotels in Tokyo have a very clinical, shopping mall feel to them that can be pretty suffocating. We stayed at one of the massive hotels in Shinagawa last year and by the end of three weeks we were about to lose our minds. It was a very strange part of town. This time we stayed at the Cerulean Tower at the recommendation of an editor at Elle Girl Japan. It's 40 stories high and located near the enormous Shibuya cross-section. We had a beautiful view of the city on the 28th floor. Comfy beds and super showers. My mom and her friend Beth had great food at the hotel Mediterranean restarunt three nights in a row. The bar on the fortieth floor has a breathtaking view of the city. The staff was so helpful and spoke excellent English. We all had a wonderful experience here and I'll be certain to stay here again. It's a very fun location-at night Ronnie and I had fun getting lost in the maze of Shibuya and discovered some great restaurants close by. You're also right by the new eight story Opening Ceremony store. The hotel is within walking distance of Harajuku.

Visit the hotel's website here.

LaForet-Harajuku-Jan-01-2010-6am 

Photo via Tokyofashion.com

Spend a day checking out the many levels of the Laforet fashion mall in Harajuku-I spent most of my time on the fourth floor at furfur and Hotel55 boutique and in the basement buying magazines and markers and pens. You have got to see some of the wacky magazines they have to offer. On the third floor is Cafe F.O.B.-a good place to have an iced tea and people watch.

Look at these beautiful crayons I got! I found them in the magazine store in the basement of Laforet-they are called Sakura Coupy-Pencils

Nearby on Omotesando is the Forbidden Fruit cafe, which is the secret entrance to Bedrock. You have to go just to see the store. I can almost guarantee that Bedrock is the coolest shopping experience you will ever have. The Forbidden Fruit cafe is next to the M.A.C. store wedged in Omotesando Hills. I would highly recommend the hotel's smoothies and green vegetable curry. The curry is delicious. To get to Bedorck, you have to go through the secret, forbidden looking silver door in the back, and go down a winding staircase. Down here you will find Bedrock, carved out like a little post-apocalyptic cave shell, with a large terrarium and abandoned motorcycles. The atmosphere has a twinge of New Orleans voodoo too. They play good dubstep. Here you will find Le Grand Bleu (L.G.B.) and If Six Was Nine, as well as Givenchy, Ann Demeulemeester, John Galliano, and Rick Owens. Forget about trying on any of the beautiful shoes if you're any larger than a 38. If you're a denim enthusiast, try on some of their jeans-they're amazing. Try on the men's jeans too.

Up the street is Cafe Anniversaire. It's a very trendy and upscale cafe where you can sip a gin and tonic and watch three Western style wedding processions in one sitting. It's really a magical experience. The staff is very friendly and the drinks are excellent. Another reason to come to Cafe Anniversaire is to see all of the floofy dogs in baby strollers the customers bring in.

Park outside of the Lawson convenience store on Omotesando with your camera. Stylish people hang out here just waiting to get their photos taken for streetstyle blogs.

One of my favorite restaurants is off of Omotesando, and it came recommended as a vegetarian friendly option from a reader last year. The Brown Rice cafe is located next to the Crayon House and features an all vegan menu resplendent with different varieties of tofu, pastries, and teas. The vegetarian curry is our favorite. Here is their website.

Be prepared to wait a while for a table. While you wait, go across the street to the Crayon House bookstore/toy store. That's where we found our cat Nao! The kids here are so adorable.

It's touristy, but Kiddyland is a very fun stop if it's not too crowded. Each of the eight floors has a very different selection of toys to offer.

I must admit that if I had to pick and choose my toy stores, I would much prefer the one in Ginza that so many readers recommended to me. It's name is Hakuhinkan. They have an amazing selection of plushies....and just look at this cat thermos I got there!

Go to Ginza on the weekend when it's closed off to traffic. You will be amazed at how calm, slow, and quiet the masses are as they move through the streets for their Sunday shopping.

If you discover that you really like Hotel55 boutique, you may want to check out Casbah in Shinjuku at the Lumine 2 mall. They carry Jelly Garcia and the Dress & Co as well. They have a great bookstore on the top floor of Lumine 2 as well. Find the address here.

Wearing one armed leather vest, tank top, jeans, and pouch bag from L.G.B. and Bedrock

If you fall in love with Bedrock, I would recommend you check out the L.G.B. sister store in Roppongi. They have a much larger selection of denim and men's clothing, as well as some very high end bags and jewelry. While you're there you might want to stop into the storefront cafe for some delicious tartines. You will find the adresses for Le Grand Bleu and Bedrock here.

Go to a bookstore, grocery store, and drugstore. If you're a beauty junkie, you will love the makeup in the drugstores. I stock up on makeup brushes when I'm here, and if you're super pale like me you will be happy to find many shades of pale foundation.

If you want to visit a cat cafe, here is a listing of cat cafes in Tokyo. This website is extremely helpful for picking restaurants, they have great reviews and photos of places all over Tokyo. Here is a listing for vegetarian friendly restaurants.

I really want to see the Studio Ghibli Museum-I missed it this time around. You have to reserve your ticket in advance.

Go to the Comme des Garcons store in Aoyama (it's only right up the street from Omotesando). It is so much cheaper than it is the states. The staff is so helpful and sweet and the selection is *incredible*. Invest in one or two Comme des Garcons basics and you will never regret it.

If you're at Kiddyland, walk towards Laforet-take the very first side street to your left and go to the end of the street. Here you will find amazing Thai food-cooked right in front of you! Ronnie and I loved it.

Have fun exploring Tokyo-don't be afraid to wander. (Isn't that how you find the best restaurants?) Hope my guide was of some help!

xo Jane

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Sea of Shoes is the personal style blog of Jane Aldridge.

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