harajuku fashion

Harajuku

Located between Shibuya and Shinjuku, Harajuku is well known as the central hub of Japanese teen culture and fashion. Many of Japan’s extreme fashion trends are seen on young people gathering in the area. Harajuku is also regarded as the birthplace of “cosplay” (costume play), which involves dressing up as anime and other characters.

To see Harajuku at its most vibrant, be sure to visit on a Sunday afternoon. This is when young people congregate near the station in their wild costumes. There’s plenty of dancing and music, and an upbeat atmosphere in general. Takeshita Street (Takeshita Dori) and its adjoining side streets are also very popular with teens. Here, there are plenty of trendy stores selling edgy fashions and second-hand clothes, along with several fast food places.

Although it attracts large numbers of trend-conscious youths, Harajuku still has plenty of shopping and sightseeing opportunities on offer for adults as well. To the south of Takeshita Dori, there’s Omotesando, which is sometimes called “Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees.” This is a broad avenue with brand-name boutiques and quite a few restaurants and cafes to choose from. It’s home to the chic Omotesando Hills complex: a high-end shopping mall that opened in 2006 to cater to the fashion-conscious. Also worth a visit is “Kiddy Land,” which is one of Tokyo’s most well known toy stores.

Harajuku is also situated very close to some wonderful sightseeing opportunities. The railway station backs onto the famous Yoyogi Park, which shares its grounds with Meiji Shrine. There are also two museums in the vicinity: the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, which has an exhibition of ukiyo-e paintings, and the Nezu Museum, with an extensive Asian art collection, as well as its own Japanese garden.

tokyo-harajuku-fashion
Harajuku fashion

Famous Harajuku Streets

Takeshita Dori
Most shops open between 11:00 and 20:00

Takeshita Dori has become a symbol for the teen culture of Harajuku, and as such, is extremely crowded on weekends. It’s a narrow street lined with a variety of shops and eateries targeting Japanese teenagers. You’ll also find some interesting shopping in the side streets adjoining Takeshita Dori.

Omotesando
Most shops open between 11:00 and 20:00

Nicknamed “Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees” for its upmarket brands and tree-lined avenue, Omotesando caters to a slightly older clientele than the Takeshita Dori teenagers. It is home to several high-end fashion stores, as well as the fairly upmarket Omotesando Hills complex. The avenue itself is the main approach to Meiji Shrine, which is adjacent to Yoyogi Park.

Shopping

Omotesando Hills Complex
Shops open between 11:00 and 21:00 (20:00 on Sundays)
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 23:30 (22:30 on Sundays)

Designed by the award-winning architect, Ando Tadao, the Omotesando Hills Complex is an upmarket shopping centre, comprising around 100 shops, salons and eateries. Many high-end brands have a presence within the six-storey complex, which opened in 2006 and occupies almost a quarter of the avenue. Luxury apartments are situated within the complex, above the shops.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku
Shops open between 11:00 and 21:00
Restaurants open between 8:30 and 23:00

The Tokyu Plaza is a new addition to the area, having only opened in April 2012. It has seven floors of mainly fashion boutiques, along with eateries and lifestyle stores. There is a pleasant outdoor terrace with trees on the sixth floor.

LaForet Harajuku
Open between 11:00 and 20:00

This complex is generally aimed at a younger female demographic, and has seven levels of fashion stores. There is a museum on the uppermost floor, with frequent exhibitions and events.

Daiso Harajuku (100 Yen Shop)
Open between 10:00 and 21:00

Situated on Takeshita Dori and right near Harajuku station, Daiso Harajuku is one of the biggest discount shops in Tokyo. It has several floors of clothing, stationery, kitchenware and even grocery items, all for 105 yen each.  

Oriental Bazaar
Open between 10:00 and 18:00 (19:00 on weekends)
Closed on Thursdays.

This is a huge souvenir store with three floors, offering kimonos, Japanese dolls, ornamental swords and more. It’s easy to spot, too: the facade of the building mimics traditional Japanese design with its unmissable green and red paint.  

Kiddy Land
Open between 11:00 (10:30 on weekends and public holidays) and 21:00

Kiddy Land is one of Tokyo’s most beloved toy stores. The store has five floors, and includes a Hello Kitty Store and Snoopy Town. The store on Omotesando Dori was recently and extensively refurbished. It reopened in July 2012.

Louis Vuitton
Open between 11:00 and 20:00

This cleverly designed store has five levels that resemble a set of suitcases, and is one of the largest Louis Vuitton stores in Asia. It opened in the fall of 2002, and joins the many other high-end brand names with Omotesando branches.


Attractions

Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu, or Meiji Shrine, is one of the most well-known Shinto shrines in Japan. It is dedicated to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji, who reigned between 1867 and 1912, and the Empress Shoken. Even though the shrine grounds are in the middle of the city, there are nearly 100,000 trees planted there, creating an extremely tranquil atmosphere. The shrine has a Treasure House and Museum Annex, which display various exhibitions of historical artifacts throughout the year.

Togo Jinja
The Togo Shrine is another Shinto shrine in the Harajuku area. It is dedicated to the spirit of Admiral Togo Heihachiro, who was a Japanese hero of the Russo-Japanese War. The shrine also has a bookshop and a small museum, in which visitors can learn more about Admiral Togo’s life. There was previously a famous antique market that took place near the shrine each month, but this has since been discontinued.

Nezu Museum
Open between 10:00 and 17:00 (last entry at 16:30)
Closed on Monday (or the next day, if the Monday is a public holiday)
Also closed over the New Year holiday period.
Admission: 1000 yen (Special exhibitions 1200 yen)

This Museum has a good selection of artworks from East Asia, with exhibits from China, Korea and Japan. There is also an attractive Japanese garden in the outside grounds.

Ota Memorial Museum of Art
Open between 10:30 and 17:30
Closed on Monday (or the next day, if the Monday is a public holiday)
Admission: 700 yen. Sometimes more, depending on the exhibition.

This elegant museum exhibits a selection of pieces from a collection of over 10,000 artworks. The collection was formerly the private property of Mr. Ota Seizo, and comprises ukiyo-e prints and paintings. (Ukiyo-e is a Japanese style of visual art that involves woodblock printing). Exhibits are rotated from month to month.

NHK Studiopark
NHK is Japan’s national television broadcasting company. The NHK Studiopark gives a “behind the scenes” glimpse of the processes involved in making TV shows. On most days, visitors can see the production of a live show.

Yoyogi Park
Open between 5:00 and 20:00 (17:00 in winter)
General facilities open between 9:00 and 17:00

This is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It sits adjacent to the Meiji Shrine grounds and Harajuku station, and is a wonderful place for group picnics and other activities. There are ponds, lawns to sit on, and jogging tracks leading through wooded areas.

National Yoyogi Stadium
This stadium was constructed for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and hosted the swimming events. Currently, it is used for numerous events, including volleyball and ice skating competitions, as well as concerts.

Getting to Harajuku
Harajuku station is located on the JR Yamanote Line, which also has stops at Shinjuku and Shibuya.

Also in the area are Meijingu-mae subway station (on the Fukutoshin and Chiyoda subway lines) and Omotesando station (on the Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda subway lines).

Accommodation
The Shibuya/Harajuku/Shinjuku area is an exciting place to stay in general, and serves as a great base from which you can explore the rest of Tokyo. The Tokyu corporation operates three well known hotels in the area, located very close to public transport. There aren’t very many budget options here, however. The hotels on Love Hotel Hill also offer overnight stays, but you have to bring a partner!

Before booking your stay you should definitely check out the page on Shinjuku hotels.