Harajuku is a district of Tokyo famed for it’s other-planet fashion, teen culture and all things ‘Kawaii’! It was for this reason we wanted to visit, and we weren’t disappointed. The cult fame of Tokyo’s trendiest district has led to it becoming not only the Mecca of Japanese teen fashionistas, but a must-see spot for tourists (guilty!). Takeshita-dōri (the main shopping street in the district) is VERY busy. The high tourist volume can make it feel disappointingly like any other street in Tokyo, as you try to spot the crazy outfits the tourist guides promised, but persevere; the shops themselves are truly in their own ‘Harajuku’ world, and when you do see these fashionistas you will not be able to take your eyes off them.
Here’s a run down of our short but sweet visit to Harajuku’s Takeshita-dōri, and the experiences we would recommend…
1. Have a crêpe
Perhaps a lesser known fact about Harajuku is that there are A LOT of crêpe stands. This is becoming more recognised on travel blogs, some even referencing them as one of Tokyo’s must-try experiences. They are served rolled up like an ice cream cone with a multitude of fillings jam-packed inside. We recommend banana, chocolate and cream!
2. Get lost in the madness
At points you can’t help but feel like you’re on another planet. Half way down the street we went into what looked like a pretty conservative department store to use the loo. Inside there was a political party canvassing. Were they handing out leaflets? No. Were they making an impassioned speech? No of course not, this is Japan we’re talking about. They had hired a cheesy J-Pop boy band to sing to a group of maybe 20 teenage girls, of course. If only the UK’s ‘Stronger Together’ campaign had hired One Direction, Britain would be in a very different place right now. *Sigh*
3. Fashion spotting
Contrary to what Gwen Stafani has told us in the past, Harajuku is not home to just one ‘Harajuku girl’; There is a rich and vibrant range of styles on Takeshita-dōri. From ‘Lolita’ (a modern take on Victorian dress), to ‘Cosplay’ (dressing as cartoon characters), to ‘Decora’ (dressing head-to-toe in plastic toys and accessories). Wander around for long enough and you will be sure to spot them all!
4. Read the slogans
It seems that the Japanese like to wear clothes with English slogans on purely for their aesthetic quality…they don’t have to make any sense. If you find terrible English as funny as we do, we highly recommend you read through some of the t-shirts being sold, it is eye-wateringly hilarious.
5. Go Shopping
Of course! Every other shop here seems to emit a pink glow into the street. Inside the shops are rammed full of merchandise (including these massive key rings); if something isn’t pink, it’s fluffy, glittery or covered in anime characters. Even the air smells sweet from the candy and crêpes. It is girl heaven…and Jasper didn’t mind it too much either.