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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.


  • 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

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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

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.

Ho Chiu, Peter Y

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

Our guide is great. It gives us a good insight into the architecture of Tokyo.

David F USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2015

I love architecture and really enjoyed this tour. Fernando was very informative and showed us parts of the city that we would never have otherwise explored.

Sheila I

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2015

It was cool! We enjoyed it!

Michelle H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2015

We were lucky to meet Aurelia who was a knowledgeable and personable guide. It was like going for a walk with a friend who had done her research and more on the architecture and culture of Japan. We found out a lot about the symbolisms and the design concepts of the buildings. Aurelia started from the historical perspective at the Meiji temple in Harujuku and we learnt very quickly about the historical progression and architectural context. We proceeded to Omotesando and Roppongi. A Phd Scholar with a architectural background from Romania, Aurelia's acute perception and depth of knowledge of architecture was a plus and her personable skills made us feel like we were walking with friends. From an architectural perspective, this tour is highly recommended. My husband and I had a great time revisiting these buildings again in Tokyo from Australia. Make sure you have good walking shoes and architectural appreciation.

Felice M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2014

Our tour guide, Jay, was knowledgeable and passionate. He was forthcoming with information and the itinerary was very interesting. We enjoyed it immensely.

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