Tokyo for Teens
March 13, 2023 9:57 AM   Subscribe

What neighborhoods in Tokyo would a teen girl who is into contemporary art, jewelry, vintage clothing, and gift shops enjoy?

I'm taking my teen daughter to Ghibli Park in Nagoya in June, but most of our time will be spent in Tokyo. We love walking around different neighborhoods in NYC looking at the types of things I mentioned in my question. We are hoping to do something similar in Tokyo. Can you recommend certain neighborhoods/areas?

We also like seeing musical theater and dance performances, so if you have any suggestions in those realms, that would also be valuable information.

Feel free to share restaurant and accommodation recommendations too while you are at it.

posted by Dansaman to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills usually has very good contemporary art exhibits. Roppongi Hills itself will also have gift shops and jewelry but my impression is that it's mostly the same international brands you can find in any high-end shopping area.

One thing I always enjoyed when I was living in Osaka and Kyoto was seeing local dance groups practice for summer festivals in various open areas at night. Places like an underground courtyard outside of a department store or underneath a train station.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:38 AM on March 13, 2023

posted by bluecore at 10:51 AM on March 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Tokyo is so huge there are dozens of places you could choose from, but the obvious one to recommend is Shibuya, specifically Harajuku. I wandered into lots of vintage shops in the area but it would probably be good to make yourself a little walking tour so you aren't wandering aimlessly, it's incredibly easy to get lost. Asakusa is a more low key and historically important area IIRC, I stayed there way back in the day - you could probably find some arts stuff there!

Incidentally I visited the Ghibli museum when I was there, which I believe is in western Tokyo, and may be complementary to the park rather than redundant. Easy recommendation for any Ghibli lover.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:01 AM on March 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

Seconding Harajuku and adding Meguro which is a lovely neighbourhood. I was going to recommend the wonderful Hotel Claska but I see it’s closed :((( and yes! don’t miss the Ghibli museum even if you are going to the theme park too.Exit through the gift shop, hoo boy !
posted by tardigrade at 11:11 AM on March 13, 2023

For clothes and jewellery, vintage and otherwise, flea markets might be fun.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:14 AM on March 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

I can recommend an English-speaking tourguide for Harajuku, if your daughter likes that kind of fashion; drop me a line.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:11 PM on March 13, 2023

I've been seeing a lot of low-key hype for Yanesen (Yanaka/ Nezu/ Sendagi, a bit northwest from Ueno) lately, and I'd like to visit the neighborhood next time I travel to Japan.
posted by sukeban at 4:21 PM on March 13, 2023

Had an absolutely great time in my 20s in Shimokitizawa – a wonderful place for vintage clothing and a general cool hanging out vibe, so I would heartily second that recommendation. It's a little way out of central Tokyo, but well worth the trip.

I'd also recommend Naka-Meguro, too, for a similar feel.
posted by Ella_Bella at 4:54 PM on March 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

The Gotokuji Shrine is a short commuter train journey outside of Tokyo and is pretty cool to visit.

You should also take a trip to the Tokyo central train station to visit Character Alley for some good shopping and then go visit their Ramen Alley for lunch.

If you go to Shibuya check out the d47 Museum which is on the 8th floor of the Hikarie building (the other floors have a cool Bunraku exhibit, galleries, a mall). d47 features arts and crafts from Japan's different prefectures (also has great gift store). There is also a Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, which is like Target, but even better and more interesting to wander in.
posted by brookeb at 5:48 PM on March 13, 2023

I will second the recommendations for Shimo-Kitazawa and Naka-Meguro - they're fun areas to walk around in, filled with interesting shops and places to eat. Yanesen is quaint, if you're the kind of tourist that likes to see quaint Japan.

For contemporary art, I'd recommend the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. If you do visit the Mori Art Museum, there are around a dozen international free private galleries in the immediate neighborhood, most of them listed on the contemporary art guide at Where In Tokyo. (self link). Remember that most museums are closed on Mondays, and private galleries are often closed on Sundays as well.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:10 PM on March 13, 2023

Koenji is another good option. South of the station is Look Street, a shopping street with lots of vintage clothing, record, and toy shops. To the west is the infamous Kita-Kore building full of hipster designers (Lady Gaga is apparently a fan) and also this fun cat shop.

Food rec: Tensuke (天すけ) near Koenji Station is a hole-in-the-wall tempura restaurant run by an energetic tempura chef who loves to practice his English. The specialty is tempura-fried egg over rice which is incredible and at a very reasonable price. Be prepared to wait in line.
posted by Gortuk at 7:04 AM on March 14, 2023

Response by poster: So much wonderful input from people. Really appreciate it! Happy to have more if anyone has additional ideas.
posted by Dansaman at 9:31 AM on March 14, 2023

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