Harajuku, Tokyo Japan

Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan was one of the places I visited during my recent trip there in February 2012. I'll be very honest to say that it has been 20 years since I last visited this place and so much has changed since then. The last time I visited Harajuku 原宿 was back in 1991 when I used to work in Tokyo, Japan. But after two decades, the crowd here still astonishes me.

Harajuku has been known as the capitol of fashion for many years. From the most trendiest fashion right to the most outrageous fashion can be found here. Apart from the main walking street which is known as Takeshita Street, there is also the high end shopping area known as Omotesandō (表参道) Street. Another highlight of this place is the famous Yoyogi Park where on weekends, the best of the best in Japanese fashion can be seen. Among the unique fashion observed here, you see defunct Rockabilly fashion right to the Punk Rock era.

Takeshita Street at Harajuku, Tokyo

Majority of the travelers or tourist would make their way here via the JR Yamanote line and exit at the Harajuku Station (原宿駅). From here, the first thing you would notice is the massive crowds surrounding the entire area. A large majority would be mostly teenagers who come here to shop or just hang out. The weekend is the best time to visit Harajuku and you should spend at least half a day there. Go in the late mornings till the late afternoons.

Streets of Harajuku and a Costumed Panda doing promotions

Apart from the fashion and shopping here in Harajuku, you should look our for the Cosplay Fashion  where teenagers dress-up as popular Japanese Anime characters. Overall, they come in all kinds of outlandish costumes that make heads turn everywhere. Another style to look out for is the GothLoli or Gothic Lolita Fashion where girls and boys overdo the goth look but in style. There is also many other fashions trends like Visual Kei, Ganguro, Gyaru, Kogal, to the "cute" Kawaii style here. When I walked along the streets, I saw quite a number of them but I did not get a chance to photograph them. Seriously, if you are into Japanese fashion, this is the place to visit.

Crowd at Harajuku

While the many shops around here sell almost all genres of fashion, you would definitely find something suitable if you want to pick up a souvenir. They do have decent everyday fashion but since you're all the way here, you should get something unique. Well, I did and it's not one of those Cosplay uniforms!

Thousands of people along Harajuku's Takeshita Street

Walking down the main avenue in Harajuku is also no joke, at any one time, there are thousands of people moving about as you can see in the picture above. Shops found there are mainly fashion, restaurants and fast food. A number of food and drink stalls and kiosks can be found at most junction corners. The street stretches for about a kilometer all the way down to the main crossing which leads to Harajuku Street, another area where up and coming designers have their boutique fashion shops.

Harajuku Street entrance

Harajuku Street is not as hectic as the main Takeshita Street, there are less crowds here while you can find many specialized boutique designers and shops here. You would probably find something unique if you spend some time exploring this part of town. This street also leads to Omotesandō street where making one big turn, you will find yourself back at the Harajuku Station. Overall, it's not easy to get lost there.

Graffiti at Harajuku Street

Fashion at Harajuku Street

For the record, if you know the term Harajuku Girls, it generally came from here. But more popularly known in the song by Gwen Stefani, they are in fact four young Japanese and Japanese American back up dancers who were featured in stage shows and music videos for Gwen Stefani during her solo pop/R&B/dance-record phase.

One thing's for sure, if you are a serious fashionista, you would most probably go crazy for the items they have on sale here. Price wise, it is pretty decent and not as expensive as you may think. They also follow the season so during winter, you will get more winter fashion. Best time to visit Harajuku is in the Spring and Summer. If you like photography, you will find this place rather interesting as the trendy Japanese teenagers here do not mind having their picture taken, provided you ask them politely, they will even pose for you.

Busy Harajuku Street

Omotesandō Street with the high end shopping

For those who indulge in branded fashion, you will be pleased to know that Harakuku's Omotesandō area carries most top branded names like Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Gucci, Zara and many other names. The area is also well known for one of the famous Japanese toy store called KiddyLand. Omotesanso is also known as "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées". For the shopping mall lovers, you can check out Omotesando Hills which is a modern urban development of multiple buildings catering to the trendy shoppers. 

Harajuku Station, Tokyo

Harajuku Map

How to go to Harajuku - You need to take the JR Yamanote Line from Shibuya Station or Shinjuku Station and stop at the Harajuku Station. You exit into Takeshita Street here. This is the most easiest and common way here. For other methods, there is the Meijijingu-mae Station served by the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines. At the eastern end of Omotesando Street is Omotesando Station, which is served by the Chiyoda, Ginza and Hanzomon Subway Lines. Alternatively, you can take a taxi but it will be quite costly.

I flew to Tokyo, Japan with AirAsiaX as the airline flies directly into Haneda Airport in Tokyo. It is actually nearer that flying in via Narita Airport. If you book ahead, you can get fares from as low as RM299 (US$100) one way making it very affordable to visit Japan. Seriously, after I did some calculations, a single person can visit Japan for 5-7 days with RM5000 (US$1666), that includes flights, hotels and food, minus the shopping.

Apart from here, you can also take a train to the next biggest district to see the Shinjuku Neon Lights at night. For those visiting Osaka, here is a list of what to do in Osaka too. Well, when you do visit the Land of the Rising Sun, you should make it a point to visit the fashion capitol of the world at Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan.

Harajuku, Tokyo Japan Harajuku, Tokyo Japan Reviewed by David Jr on Thursday, March 29, 2012 Rating: 5

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