There are certain pockets in every city that offer something truly unique…a slice of life that’s both captivating and intriguing. Harajuku is every traveller’s dream, affording a first-hand glimpse into Japan’s youth subculture and the kawaii culture. But that’s not all that Harajuku offers. Stroll through its colourful streets, and you’ll discover an eclectic mix of culinary outlets, exciting shopping venues and delightful historic sights. But mostly, you can’t miss the fashions.
Harajuku extends around Tokyo’s Harajuku Station, nestled between Shinjuku and Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. There’s a lot to explore around the area, so pack in a good camera and a spirit of adventure, and become one with the crowds here.
Dive into teen culture in the pedestrian-only Takeshita Dori for a sensory overload of clothes, toys, fast food outlets, and unidentifiable bric-a-brac. You might also find the cuteness overload slightly nauseating, but that’s kawaii for you! This is the very hub of teen culture, and the birthplace of Japan’s teenage fashion trends.
If you want to see cosplay in action, then visit on a Sunday. Most cosplayers, dressed in anime, manga and cartoon characters, gather on the Jingu Bridge to the left of the station exit. You can also identify people dressed as members of a band. The Lolita fashion is quite the rage. The backstreets of Harajuku are called Urahara and if you’re into Lolita fashions, or even Gothic or fairy Lolita wear, then this is where you should be.
It’s also here at Harajuku that you’ll find Visual Kei, a style associated with particular j-rock and j-pop bands that manifest in elaborate costumes and hairdos.
Omotesando – Japan’s Champs-Elysees, is just south of Takeshita Dori. A wide, tree-lined avenue that leads to the Meiji Shrine, this sophisticated area boasts numerous boutiques, leading fashion brands, galleries and restaurants.
Once you’ve had your fill of colour, cosplay, and kawaii, perhaps you’d like to shift gears to a more sedate pace at the Meiji Jingu that stands behind the station. Dedicated to the emperor who opened Japan’s doors to the West, this Shinto shrine is an oasis of calm amidst a city that’s always on the move.
Enter through the 12m torii gate into the park surrounding the shrine, and then through another, closer to it. Inside, cleanse your hands and mouth at the fountain as a mark of respect to Shinto customs. Make an offering too, if you so wish. If you’re lucky, you can see a traditional Shinto wedding whilst you’re there.
Harajuku is a little world of intrigue within Tokyo, a much larger one. Take your time, set your pace and discover all there is to this fascinating district that draws crowds by the thousands.
If you are planning to visit Harajuku in Tokyo, do not hesitate to contact your luxury travel designer Mr. Isao Numano.