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Aoyama + Omotesando Neighborhood, Tokyo

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Metro: Omotesando's insider take:

All the big-name Japanese designers are clustered together in this district on the tree-lined Omotesando Boulevard: Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, and Issey Miyake and his other lines (HaaT and A-POC), plus interesting younger Japanese labels such as Tsumori Chisato and Frapbois. Look out for Sou-Sou, which sells its own version of the traditional split-toed soft Japanese shoe, and Arts & Science, whose elegant leather bags are perfect for carrying home your new purchases. Prada's spectacular glass store, designed by the Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron, is here, too. Tod's, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and others are wall-to-wall, and they're housed in buildings by native architects whose names are bigger here than Marc Jacobs' (whose Japanese lantern–inspired Tokyo flagship, opened in December 2010, was designed by Jacobs' own all-star team). Tadao Ando's 366,000-square-foot development, Omotesando Hills, opened in February 2006, is a minimalist's fantasy mall, housing brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana. Unlike Tokyo's much larger luxury malls, which can be overwhelming, Omotesando Hills feels exclusive and manageable in both its gorgeous design and its choice offerings. Go on a weekday evening to avoid the weekend crowds; you'll have the entire place to yourself.—Updated by Rebecca Willa Davis

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