Omotesando Hills

HarajukuOmotesando Hills (Omotesando hiruzu), Aoyama's newest landmark which was recently opened at 10:30 a.m. on February 11, 2006, a shopping complex along the avenue, has been attracting lots of attention with its intriguing interior design. It looks like a three-story building from the outside, but it's actually six levels once you're inside (three of them underground).

A convenient meeting spot and a good place to get in from the weather, it's filled with the same sort of upscale shops you'll find in the rest of Aoyama, but it also provides some surprisingly affordable eating and drinking spots. Omotesando has lured Tokyo’s fashion-lovers for years; now the boulevard has an added the new attraction.

It consists of upmarket shops, restaurants, cafes, and beauty salons. It is, the much anticipated opening day of Omotesando Hills, a sprawling, upscale Tokyo shopping development spanning the Harajuku and Aoyama neighborhoods and running along the historic tree-lined Omotesando Avenue, a famous shopping and (previously) residential road in Aoyama sometimes termed Tokyo's Champs-Élysées. It contains over 93 shops, cafes and restaurants reflect Japan's re-emerging interest in the high end as it perhaps starts to pull out of a decade-long economic slump. There are also 38 apartments are located at the top of the shopping complex. Omotesando Hills is a shopper’s wonderland. The most devoted fashionista can even live on site, in one of the development's 38 flats. Shops are open daily from 11:00am to 9:00pm and restaurants are open until midnight.

Newly opened, Omotesando Hills is the fresh, innovative core of Omotesando Boulevard from where the latest in Japanese fashion trends, arts and lifestyles are transmitted to an eager public. 'Media Ship', the media concept linking people, the city, and the world, attracts people of sophistication and discernment from around the world. The low-rise building profile is set at the level of the 'zelkova' trees along Omotesando, a bucolic approach reinforced by extensive use of rooftop gardens. Omotesando Hill's six-story atrium is enclosed by a spiral ramp that mirrors the slope of the boulevard outside, transforming the interior into a parallel avenue with its own fabulous array. It occupies a two hundred and fifty meter stretch of Omotesando. It features a central atrium and a gentle spiral slope, which is at the same grade as the street outside, Omotesando. The complex offers an interesting line-up of 93 shops, including a few from overseas that are making their debut in Japan.

Omotesando Hills a somewhat fancy shopping mall appealing to a completely different group of rich people. For the last five years or so, the once-stylish Harajuku neighborhood has been naturally gravitating from the 90s hidden hipster street-wear shops to enormous stores for European luxury brands. Slowly but surely, Japan is losing its status as a unique fashion enclave. It was built in 2005, in a series of Tokyo urban developments by Mori Building on the lot of the former-Dojunkai Aoyama apartments. Internationally renowned architect Tadao Ando designed the architecture. The place is designed in an upward slope. The halls, if stretched out of their zigzag shape, are the same length as the avenue outside. New Age music and sounds of waterfalls and birds are piped in, and what seems to be the shadows of trees graze the walls. A look down over the railing reveals a widening staircase that runs through the center of the sublevels.

Prior to the official opening on February 11 2006, the new complex as revealed to the media on February 2. On December 9 2005, Mori Building Co., Ltd. unveiled the construction site of "Omotesando Hills" to the media. The number of visitors to Omotesando Hills reached 10 million in a mere one year since its opening in February 2006. On average, the number of visitors is between 20,000 and 30,000 a day on weekdays while it is 40,000 - 50,000 on weekends and holidays. Annual sales also reached ¥1.65 billion (approx. US$ 135 million/€1.1 million), exceeding by approx. 10% the ¥1.5 billion (approx. US$ 123 million/€1 million) previously estimated.

hundred-yen stores (the Japanese equivalent of the dollar store) seem to occupy every corner of the world's most expensive city. Still, most are welcoming Omotesando Hills as the newest addition to Tokyo's long list of hot spots. And while the main draw this opening day seems not so much the shopping as the overall spectacle, Omotesando Hills is certainly poised to top the list of Tokyo's most avid and well-heeled shoppers. The independent, style-conscious urbanites who gravitate to Omotesando will find in Omotesando Hills a new benchmark. Omotesando Hills is a world away from urban Japan's bargain-hunting culture, wherek in creativity: the place to go for insights into the latest trends and the most up-to-date lifestyles. Omotesando Hills will bring additional refinement to tradition, authenticity, and quality by reinterpreting and revitalizing fashion, art, artisanship, and the traditional Japanese aesthetic of wa. The creative space formed through this approach will stand for the first expression of a new era in style. From the outside, the two-story structure, covered in 250 square metres of glass, offers no hint of what lies within. But step inside and you find yourself in a long, narrow building.

Omotesando Hills is one of Omotesando's latest forays into the world of luxury-eccentric architecture for retail shops (e.g. Herzog and de Meuron's Prada Building). It occupies a long stretch of Omotesando, partly obscured by trees, and with only a few retails shop on the outside. The repeating glass panels on the external facade aren't very exciting, though they are dressed up at night with a light display that emulates silhouettes of people's legs walking (video). There is also a small stream of water that flow adjacent to the building and flows along the slope of the street. One consequence of the sloped street is that the retail shops on the outside gradually climb up the facade of the building as you walk alongside. The building’s doublespeak-filled PR page says,“The spiral connecting slope will allow visitors to enjoy indoors the sensation of strolling outdoors.” They took away the natural light and replaced it with TV. They destroyed the real experience of strolling outdoors to provide an indoor “sensation.” They took away the trees and the ivy and replaced them with concrete. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. The use of natural hues and organic curves blends the man-made elements of the design into the soon-to-be leafy surroundings. The concrete modules form a gracefully lit grid, and the exterior - at first glance somewhat stark - will radiate vitality once the trees grow and the essential human element is added: people, enjoying the space and living their daily lives.

Ando connects the interior to the outside by echoing these external design elements: walking, slope, trees, and water. A odd speaker stick fills the mall with ambient water noises, flowing silhouettes of leaves are projected onto the floor, and images of stick-figure people walking adorn many of the walls. Slope is the connecting design of the interior in the form of continuously ascending ramps set around a thin triangular perimeter. The ramps create a series of convergence lines at the apex that are fun to photograph, though I must admit they aren't quite as impressive in person. A long stairway fills the apex of the triangle while escalators occupy the base. They, too, are fun to photograph. Nothing can change the fact that the interior is ultimately a mall. Retail shops line the outside perimeter, though there position is made slightly more difficult because of the continuous slope. Like Ando's CollezTadao Ando connects the interior to the outside by echoing these external design elements: walking, slope, trees, and water. A odd speaker stick fills the mall with ambient water noises, flowing silhouettes of leaves are projected onto the floor, and images of stick-figure people walking adorn many of the walls. Slope is the connecting design of the interior in theione down the street, Omotesando Hills has a difficult problem: it's hard to transcend the nature of a shopping complex, even if you throw water and trees at it.

Omotesando Hills is Tadao Ando most recently completed projects, and one of his largest commissions, a high-end shopping complex on Tokyo's boutique-lined street, Omotesando. It was built at a cost of $330 million, has been marked by controversy since it is replaced an old historical building. Regarding the construction, Ando said, "It's not Tadao Ando as an architect who has decided to rebuild and make shops, it was the owners themselves who wanted it to be new housing and to get some value with shops below. My task was how to do it in the best way.” It supplants the famous Aoyama Apartments, a landmark of early Japanese modernism, that were controversially destroyed before the new construction began. Ando has kept the shell of a portion of the original structure, erected in 1927 by Doujunkai, a governmental design bureau as the first public reinforced-concrete apartments in Japan. Ando has a deep understanding of architectural history, as well as a firm rootedness in his national culture, and I'm sure it is only with profound reluctance that he participated in the replacement of a local landmark with a luxury shopping mall.

Nearly eighty years have passed since the construction of the Aoyama Apartments in 1927. However, it became old and was disassembled in 2003 for redevelopment. The long-familiar apartments are now being redeveloped. The destruction of the apartments raised questions about Japan's unwillingness to preserve historic buildings. As a regenerated building, Omotesando Hills will reuse part of the existing facade. The new apartments designed by Tadao Ando will have an ingenious spiral slope enclosing an atrium. Dojunkai, which were constructed right after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 to provide accommodation for victims from the natural disaster. For recent years, the buildings had been functioning as a landmark of the fashionable Omotesando Ave., housing boutiques and galleries which make the most of the nostalgic atmosphere of the buildings. Although by the time of their demolition not many were occupied, they also housed shops in the facade opening onto the Omotesando thoroughfare. Unfortunately, all the character and charm of the previous site has been lost. One small fragment of the apartments remains at the East end of the complex.

Dojunkai, dilapidated flats were latterly the home of a ragtag selection of galleries and boutiques. Their Bauhaus-inspired, ivy-covered facades oozed charm, and their cracked and overgrown aura imbued Omotesando with a village feel that seemed resistant to the changes in the rest of the city. But charm is a rare commodity, and the space was approved for a redevelopment that includes 50 shops and 38 apartments. One would think that on a street that purports to be Tokyo’s Champs Elysees, the architect, Tadao Ando, could have created a green space that interacts with the neighborhood. Instead, he has built an unbroken opaque flat glass wall stretching down the entire road and up to the Zelkova treetops. The frontage is crossed by horizontal bands that step up inexpertly with the slope. This wall is capped by heavy concrete slabs holding dark, boxy apartments that weigh down upon the street and block out light. Perversely, the natural light that has been lost will be replaced by garish illuminated panels, creating what in effect will be a 250m-long television screen. The only respite from the wall is an angular notch that will lead to an inner spiral courtyard surrounded by shops.

“The Omotesando district has a proud history‚ and an important role of redevelopment is to carry that tradition forward‚” stresses Nobuo Arakawa‚ General Manager of Omotesando Hills Management Office‚ Mori Building Co.‚ Ltd., which carried out the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments renovation‚ and has been involved in numerous largescale redevelopment projects throughout the Tokyo area. “Omotesando Hills is very much in line with the concept of ‘urban memory’ advocated by Mr. Ando,” says Arakawa. “We place a strong emphasis on maintaining the local culture and the way of life of the area’s residents. Many of Mori’s other redevelopment projects have been focused on creating new neighborhoods from the ground up. But I think the Omotesando Hills project has successfully demonstrated that a district can be revitalized in a way that fully preserves its original atmosphere.”

In spite of the fact that Omotesando Hills is indeed an entirely new facility‚ the new building has blended in with its surroundings ever since the scaffolding was removed. The building is certainly extensive. However‚ it is designed so that the roof lies below the tops of the zelkova trees lining the sidewalk in front. Rooftop gardens cover the residential portion of the new complex. These measures were perhaps necessary to preserve the “urban memory” of Omotesando‘s lush greenery‚ and they have been marvelously successful. One section of the Omotesando Hills complex houses the Dojun Wing‚ a faithful reproduction of a portion of the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments as they were so many years ago. An art gallery that was once housed in the old Dojunkai complex has reopened its doors in the new Dojun Wing.

The concept behind the reconstruction of the historic Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments, a landmark on chic Omotesando Boulevard, was launching a Media Ship. Omotesando Hills, the media linking people, the city, and the world, brings the latest in fashion, the arts, and lifestyles and draws in people of sophistication and sensitivity from around the world. Mori Building invited world-renowned architect Tadao Ando to participate in the design of this structure, whose low-rise profile echoes the height of the zelkova trees along Omotesando,an approach reinforced by extensive use of rooftop gardens. Omotesando Hills thus keeps the memory of its historic site alive as it grows into a landmark for a new generation. Omotesando Hills carries on the nearly 80-year-old memories of visitors and residents‚ and is already adding new strands to the tapestry of urban memory. Some 20 or 30 years from now‚ Omotesando Hills will have become an even more integral part of the garden-like Omotesando district.

There are seven toilets at Omotesando Hills.

Multipurpose toilets
There are two multipurpose toilets equipped with handrails. these toilets can be used with the wheelchair.

Nursing Room
There is a nursing room at Omotesando Hills.

Diaper changing seat
There are two diaper changing seats at Omotesando Hills.

Coin lockers
There are coin lockers at Omotesando Hills.

There is one public phone at Omotesando Hills.The type is a telephone to accept both the telephone card and the coin.

Smoking area
Designated smoking areas have been provided. Please refrain from smoking while walking in the facilities or in areas other than those specified.

Cash service
There is one bank and ATM at Omotesando Hills.
Store Hours:Bank 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
ATM 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
TEL:0120-456-860 (toll free)

Bicycle parking
Open 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Parking fee Free parking
accommodates 71 bikes
Open Monday - Saturday 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Sunday 7:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Opening hours on Sundays in the middle day of three consecutive holidays are same as Monday - Saturday.
Parking fee 500/day
accommodates 35 motorcycles
Bicycle parking/Motorcycle parking

Open Monday - Saturday 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Sunday 7:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Opening hours on Sundays in the middle day of three consecutive holidays are same as Monday - Saturday.
Parking fee 350/30 min.(700/hr.)
Accommodates 182 cars
Parking Guide

Access by subway
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line Omotesando Station Exit A2, Two min on foot.
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Meiji-Jingumae Station Exit 5, Three min on foot.

Access via the JR Line
JR Yamanote Line Harajuku Station Exit Meiji-Jingu, Seven min on foot.

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