Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tokyo Trip - Harajuku 原宿

This is a series of the places I have visited in Tokyo when Kless and I were there in October.

Harajuku 原宿, is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for adults and some historic sights. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes shops, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.

In order to experience the teenage culture at its most extreme, visit Harajuku on a Sunday, when many young people gather around Harajuku Station and engage in cosplay, dressed up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk musicians, etc.

Just south of Takeshita Dori and over twice its length is Omotesando, a broad, tree lined avenue sometimes referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. Here you can find famous brand name shops, cafes and restaurants for a more adult clientele. The stylist Omotesando Hills complex targets fashion conscious urbanites in their 30s and 40s, while Kiddy Land had hundreds of unique toys for kids of all age.

How to get there
Harajuku Station is a station on the JR Yamanote Line, two stations south of Shinjuku and one station north of Shibuya (¥130 from either station).

Only a short walk from Harajuku Station is the subway Meijijingu-mae Station, which is served by the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines. At the eastern end of Omotesando is Omotesando Station, which is served by the Chiyoda, Ginza and Hanzomon Subway Lines.


Harajuku Station is the only one that is designed specially to look more like an old cottage than a station. The uniqueness of the station facade just brought us so much more anticipation towards this shopping haven.



One thing that we failed to do in this trip was to visit Harajuku during the day time. Much to our disappointment, the day time activities were equally or if not, more interesting according to our brother-in-law. So if you are planning to visit Harajuku, remember not to make the same mistake.

I know some of my friends will simply go crazy seeing such a huge 4-storey high Forever 21 mall.


After you have exited from Harajuku Station (Omotesando Exit), walk straight along the main street and when you see the Tokyu Plaza, take a left turn and you will reach the famous Takeshita Dori.





Takeshita Dori is the symbol of Harajuku and the birthplace of many Japan’s fashion trends, it is a narrow roughly 400m long street lined by shops, boutiques, cafes and fast food outlets targeting Tokyo’s teenagers. Because of the street’s popularity, it becomes extremely busy and crowded on the weekends. Interesting shops and restaurants can also be found along some of the side streets.



Can you see my dear wife already immersed in the Japanese’s culture with her bright blue tights?


Just window-shopping along Takeshita Dori is already an eye-opener.



Even the 2nd floor areas are packed with shops, you really need patience and skills to manoeuvre through all of them.


For the ladies, this is probably the place where you would find your perfect pair of shoes (even though you may already have 15 pairs of perfect shoes at home). Just another pair won’t make a big difference.




Look out for this shop - 777 Yen’s World. You will be surprised to find some cheaper and unique buys.


One thing I realised in Tokyo, the fashion shops for guys are as many as the ladies.



Hip Hop fashion.



Just before we leave Harajuku, we wondered into one of the side streets and found a few stallers selling hotdogs and hot pancakes on a cold night. Blessing!




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