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Harajuku

Listed under Squares, Streets & Urban Spaces in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Photo of Harajuku
  • Photo of Harajuku
  • Photo of Harajuku
  • Photo of Harajuku
  • Photo of Harajuku
  • Photo of Harajuku
Photo of Harajuku
Photo by flickr user Matt Watts
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This is not just shopping... This is shopping for clothes. In Tokyo. In a place where literally anything goes and some shoppers look like they're going to a fancy dress party. Why? You may ask - it's a acceptable question - well because they can, really. It's actually ok to be young and want to have fun and wear fun, crazy outfits and express yourself though your own personal sense of style - why not. And this is the place to be a peacock and let everyone look.

It has to be some kind of reaction against a culture which makes school girls dress in sailor suits until they are 16 or 17. Or else it's BECAUSE their school uniform is part fancy dress part male fantasy that they want to dress up - but what ever the reason this is the place to come to get your gothic punk romantic lolita outfits and accessories.

Takashita Dori is the market hub - the big brands have now leached into the mix of totally unique boutiques. The sleek, perfected style of Chanel and Ralph Lauren are like knights at the outer limits while Dior hums quietly in its perfect glass tower - true, their store just down from Harajuku is actually a glass tower - waiting for the young kids to outgrow their outrageous tastes and settle up towards them. But the Gap and Zara are already in there. For the kinds of experience you're looking for from the guide book reviews and photography exhibitions head behind the main streets to the alleyways where all the tiny stores have wacky names and are hyper-designed - think giant moving bats and themed decor. Parallel to the train line run the smallest lanes which are part commercial part residential and like shopping no where else.

If your cache of cool can be raised by having the latest pair of trainers that no one else will even have seen before, you need to come to Harajuku - it's trainer mecca - likewise if you like to express yourself through what you clad yourself in.

If your appreciation of aesthetics in design goes beyond fashion into decor and architecture as well as admiring perfect Dior and the eclectic smaller stores you need to take a load off your newly adorned feet at Wired cafe - the wood stylings are homey yet carefully chic and there's free internet access - and it's one of THE places to be seen with your shopping bags, all the cool kids come here.

...And bring me back some of those fabulous long socks all the girls are wearing, I only had enough space in my bags for a few extra pairs.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Harajuku

Harajuku has become an extreme fashion style and culture hotspot for teens in Japan. The area, centered around the Harajuku train station and Takeshita-dori street, offers revolutionary fashion in many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, and secondhand stores. This is like nothing else in the world!

Although recognizable designer Louis Vuitton has a shop here, many other individual stores and complexes also call Harajuku home. Daiso Harajuku is one of the biggest 100 yen shops in Tokyo, offering everything from kitchenware and stationary to unique clothing and specialized foods. Laforest Harajuku is a trend setting shopping complex, focused on young women, with many little boutiques and fashionable shops. On the top floor, Laforest hosts exibitions and events. Also here is Tokyo's most famous toy store- Kiddyland. Major brands like Disney, Barbie, and Hello Kitty are sold here, as well as any other toy, stuffed animal and electronic game that could make any kid's dream come true. Omotesando Hills is a gorgeously-designed new mall that has upscale, Harajuku style shops and beauty salons, restaurants and cafes.

To fully experience the fashion statement, it is best to see the Harajuku teens conjugated together, most often on Sundays, outside the station. They engage in costume play, trying to resemble characters from their favorite anime, punk rock groups, etc.

Shop for: Women's clothing, accessories, alternative styles

Cafe stop: The Elephant Cafe/ Wired (for free wifi access)

Get here: Harajuku station on the Yamanote line

Harajuku FRUiTS

Harajuku is a mecca for the craziest of Japanese youth style and personal expression. Walking through is like being at a fancy dress party, expect to see geishas next to spacemen next to punks next to goths next to people wrapped in tin foil next to people dressed as anime or super hero characters, next to 50‘s throwbacks and rockabilly dancers.

The area known as Harajuku is centred around Harajuku Station, the two main shopping streets are Omotesando and Takeshita-dori. Omotesando has more expensive big label boutiques while Takeshita-dori has the smaller niche stores supplying the clothes you'll walking the streets.

Sundays are when the best outfits come out, costume play or cosplay, where people dress as a particular character is most obvious then.

For a preview of what you could see check out FRUiTS magazine.

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