Harajuku is the fun and quirky center of fashion, food and youth culture
Harajuku is a lively shopping district around Harajuku Station, next to Shibuya Station on the Yamanote Line. Teens flock from all over Japan to check the latest trends, street food and pop culture. Takeshita Street (Takeshita Dori) is its epicenter, and the place to see the newest trends and buy ultra cute “only in Japan” souvenirs. Explore the maze of side streets to find unique boutiques and themed cafes. Just a short walk away, Omotesando Street is the more grown-up shopping district, home to international flagship stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. When you need a break from the cuteness, head to nearby Meiji-jingu Shrine for its calm gardens.
- Check store hours online before going; many don't open until 11:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.
- Visit on weekdays to avoid extreme crowds, or visit on weekends to see more Harajuku fashion
- Be prepared to line up for popular cafes and restaurants
Takeshita Street, center of Harajuku Style
Harajuku is the home of Tokyo street style, with new trends appearing all the time. One of the first places to explore is Takeshita Street. Directly across from Harajuku Station, this pedestrian street is the star of the show for many visitors to the area. Lined with small fashion boutiques that sell everything from Cosplay and Lolita fashion to reworked vintage clothing, you'll find all the latest trends here. Don't miss the legendary street food, from the latest Korean snacks to long-time favorite creperies like Marion Crepes and Angel's Heart.
Meanwhile, Omotesando Street is home to high-end stores and gourmet restaurants geared toward more mature clientele. It's also home to Kiddy Land, a must-visit for toy lovers of all ages, and the newish Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, full of fashion stores and cafes. The most popular shopping mall in this area is Omotesando Hills, designed by architect Tadao Ando. Omotesando Street is popularly known as the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo, you can also find the flagship stores of many international brands here.
Nearby you'll find Cat Street, which meanders between Omotesando Street and Shibuya. Located in Ura-harajuku, or Urahara for short, this area has both small boutiques and international brands, with an emphasis on streetwear and outdoor brands like Converse, Helly Hansen, and Burton. In contrast to Takeshita's young and kawaii (cute) vibe, the street style here is edgier.
Other great finds
In addition to fashion finds, you can also score some amazing souvenirs in Harajuku .
Just across from the newly renovated Harajuku Station, a new Uniqlo flagship store offers exclusive T-shirts and lifestyle goods. On Takeshita Street, popular discount store Daiso sells everything you could possibly need, from plastic sushi to sheet masks. Best of all, everything is only 100 yen (unless otherwise noted). Located along Omotesando Street, Kiddy Land is Tokyo's most famous toy store. Here you'll find five floors of goods including Snoopy and Hello Kitty memorabilia.
And if you're looking for furniture and other Japanese goods, try the Oriental Bazaar down the road. Designed to look like a traditional Japanese building, this souvenir shop sells everything from kimono to dolls, to tableware.
From crepes to cafes
Harajuku is famous for its trendy cafes and super kawaii sweets, from giant rainbow candy floss to ultra-decorated ice cream. New shops are popping up all the time, so keep your eye out for the latest hotspots (you'll see a line outside). On Takeshita Street, you can try dessert-style Japanese crepes at Marion Crepes or Angel's Heart. Or, book a table at Kawaii Monster Cafe for the crazy, colorful cuteness overload that is definitively Harajuku.