• Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
From USD $ 89.00 View price calendar

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Explore the modernist architectural heritage of Japan during this small-group, 3-hour walking tour with an expert scholar, covering the Tokyo neighborhoods of Harajuku, Omotesando and Roppongi. Follow a local scholar as you learn the principles behind Japanese design philosophy, touching on its influence across architecture, fashion and art. Along the way you’ll visit some of Tokyo’s most interesting modern skyscrapers, explore the subcultures of Harajuku and stop by the Meiji shrine for an example of traditional architecture. This intimate tour, limited to just 6 guests, ensures a personalized experience.

Highlights

  • 3-hour art and architecture walking tour in Tokyo
  • Hear fascinating commentary on art, design and architecture from your guide, a Tokyo scholar
  • Visit Meiji Shrine for a fine example of traditional Japanese architectural design
  • Witness the subcultures of Harajuku
  • View modern skyscrapers in Omotesando, including the buildings of Cartier, Prada and Dior
  • See Mori Tower in the multi-use urban development of Roppongi Hills
  • Enjoy personal attention on this small-group tour, limited to 6 people

What You Can Expect

Scholar-Led Architectural Walking Tour: Harajuku, Omotesando and Roppongi

Scholar-led Art & Architectural Walking Tour: Harajuku, Omotesando, and Roppongi

Get a first-hand look at the philosophies that underpin Japanese modern architecture on this personalized, small-group tour of the Tokyo neighborhoods of Harajuku, Omotesando and Roppongi with a local scholar. Along the way you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the vast influence of Japanese design philosophy on contemporary visual culture, spannning the worlds of architecture, fashion and art.

Start you small-group tour by meeting your guide in front of the flagship GAP store in Harajuku. Depending on the tour time you’ve selected, your experience will start in either the morning or afternoon. Start your exploration of Japanese design and architecture at the Meiji Shrine, which helps to place the philosophy’s historical origins in context. 

This ancient religious site, constructed in honor of Emperor Meiji in the 19th century, illustrates just how much Japanese visual culture has changed in the past 200 years. The very modest design aesthetics on display at this shrine help to underpin the discussion of the rest of the tour’s look at more modern Japanese design.

Head next to the Tokyo areas of Harajuku and Omotesando, where you’ll have a chance to admire two more contemporary, yet very different, takes on Japanese design. Stroll first through the kaleidoscopic neighborhood of Harajuku, listening as your guide explains the history of the neighborhood’s diverse subcultures. Your guide will help explain how traditional Japanese roles and principles are expressed via the mechanisms of consumerism and clothing, helping to create social identities.

Continue to Omotesando, a district that is home to some of Tokyo’s most exclusive fashion brands like Prada and Dior, each of which uses architecture to help reinforce their brand philosophy and aesthetics. This high-end neighborhood, studded with design studios and boutiques, plays a pivotal role in Japanese design, art and fashion. This role is evident in Omotesando’s many fine examples of modernist architecture, including the Cartier building, the Nezu Museum, Tokyo Plaza, the TOD’s building and Gyre, a structure which combines dining and retail under one roof.

Move next to Roppongi, where you’ll have the chance to view examples of Japanese design including superflat, a postmodern art movement spearheaded by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, along with modern expressions of the movement known as Japonisme. You may also have the chance to see the 21_21 Design Site, an impressive architectural masterpiece by Tadao Ando that is home to the city’s first design museum.

Finish you walking excursion in Roppongi Hills, an interesting example of urban planning that blends commercial, cultural and residential spaces into one area. The area is the brainchild of Tokyo developer Minoru Mori, who has turned the area into a centerpiece of contemporary art, including the Mori Museum at the top Mori Tower. Finish your tour here and make your own way to your next destination or your hotel.

Customer Reviews

Jeoffrey T

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2018

Great tour! Our guide is truly a scholar and showed us many amazing places. This tour was a real education not just in Japanese Architecture, but in culture and mentality too. Book this now!

Jane

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2018

We had an amazing tour, lead by a charming, well-informed and energetic architect, who provided a wide range of insights and information. Some of the buildings and sites are easily found but many others were on back streets and one would never know about them without a skilled and knowledgable guide to show the way and provide an architectural framework for their existence. It was the highlight of our visit to Tokyo. Wear comfortable shoes - there's a lot to see.

Edna D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended October 2017

Our guide Hugo Maia should be rated with 6. He is so passionate discussing the origins how the modern Japanese archi became. He went past the allotted time and we all love him.

Cindy

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2017

Good day very educational!

Angela L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2017

The architectural walk is a way to get to know a different side of Tokyo. Mike, the guide, is very knowledgeable and people oriented. He let us ask him many questions and take our time in the areas we wanted to. It was very interesting to see the contrasts within the neighborhoods.

Joseph T

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2016

This tour was excellent in every way. The company that provided the scholar was excellent to work with, and the scholar was knowledgeable, personable and made it informative and interesting.

I would recommend this tour.

Miranda Nadel

Yasmin E

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Our tour guide was amazing! Definitely wear comfy shoes because he took as long, pergolas longer, than 3 hours. A different lens with which to see Tokyo. A must do!

Karen N

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

This walk was better than I expected Tour leader Alessandro was delightful and knowledgeable only 3 in the group and we went to some amazing buildings by cutting edge Japanese architects Loved every moment

Bob H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Very interesting and varied itinerary. Alex the guide has a broad appreciation of things Japanese and Architectural.

Roberta H C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2016

This tour is fast paced and covers several interesting neighborhoods. Our guide Mike was well informed and an enthusiastic advocate for some fantastic new architecture. We went inside some of the buildings, and learned about the architects and their philosophies of architecture. The tour requires lots of brisk walking and lots of stairs, but is well worth the effort.

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