If you know anything about Japan, you’ll know that fashion is one of the defining features of day-to-day life. Clothes reflect certain attitudes and perspectives, and what better place to be blown away by bold fashion than Takeshita street, Harajuku? Kawaii culture, the best clothing stores in Tokyo and big-name Tokyo streetwear brands – It’s all here and ready to be explored on a Harajuku tour!
In today’s article we’ll focus primarily on Takeshita street, often referred to as ‘Tokyo fashion street’. It can be surprisingly easy to get lost amongst the endless Harajuku fashion stores, street performances and neverending neon signs. Thus, exploring Takeshita Dori yourself may seem like a daunting task… That’s exactly why our friends at Magicaltrip have the perfect Tokyo walking tours to not only show you all the right places but also offer an authentic experience with a local guide. So let’s get into it their Harajuku tour! But first, you guessed it… Time for a quick history lesson.
Technically, Harajuku isn’t even a place! While the area between Harajuku Station and Omotesando is known by the majority as Harajuku (原宿), the name was actually officially changed to Jingūmae (神宮前) in 1965. This was due to changes in the address system in Tokyo – basically parcels kept getting lost so the name was changed! The Tokyo Olympics was also upcoming and the government wanted a neat navigation system within the city. The name Harajuku still prevails today though, and not just locally: I’m sure if I had started this article by swapping out Harajuku for Jingūmae you would have no idea what I’m talking about!
Edo Period Japan, Harajuku is off to an exciting start; Ninjas. Because of the strategic location and the access to fresh water, this was the perfect place for Ninjas to settle and defend Edo (modern day Tokyo). The Meiji period then began and foreign ships were allowed to land on Japanese soil. The Japanese industrial revolution occured, leading to a much more built-up Tokyo much like the one we know today. Fast forward to the 1940s, ‘Washington Heights’ was built. This was a housing complex for American soldiers, and later used to house the Olympians in 1964.
Moving through the 1950s and 60s, Harajuku brands began gathering Western attention. The 70s is when Harajuku really blossomed into what it is today, with Harajuku-based fashion designers breaking into the Western industry. From then on, kawaii culture grew with clothing styles such as Lolita emerging. Harajuku streetwear brands such as ‘Pink House’ and ‘Milk’ led the fashion movement, with an emphasis on breaking societal norms for females.
Kawaii Harajuku fashion became a major part of Tokyo street fashion as a whole, with the district being the centre for clothes shopping in Tokyo. Even to this day Harajuku is at the heart of bold and modern Japanese fashion. Take a walk down Cat or Takeshita street on any given day and if anyone seems to be dressed oddly, it’s you in your ‘normal’ clothes! For locals looking to keep up with new Tokyo trends, observing Harajuku street fashion reveals all the new ideas and accessories. During your Harajuku tour, you can do exactly this; look out for recurring outfit themes and styles and perhaps try imitate them during your inevitable clothes shopping.
I’ve mentioned Takeshita street a few times already, but what makes it special? Basically, this is the Harajuku street you should know. Your first stop with your MagicalTrip local guide will be this ¼ mile long shopping street… Well I guess it isn’t really a stop, as you spend some time trailing down Takeshita Dori’s bustling alleyways. What makes this shopping street special is its significance within Harajuku: If you had to pick one street to walk down, this would be it. From Harajuku crepes to chic boutiques, it’s all here.
Oh, and the Takeshita street fashion scene is a prime example of the remarkable styles we see throughout Harajuku. Because of the sheer number of shops and cafes packed along the alleyway, MagicalTrip helps to make exploring Takeshita street a lot more meaningful: Your local guide can direct you to different stretches of the street depending on your personal preferences and interests. A fair warning: The shopping in Harajuku never truly ends!
Other than fashion, one thing Harajuku is known for is its sweets, namely crepes and pancakes. Enjoy 3 complimentary street foods with MagicalTrip on this Harajuku tour to really get a taste for the area!
After exploring Takeshita street, you’ll stray away from the other crowded Harajuku shopping streets. As you may have gathered, this district of Tokyo isn’t strictly fashion-only, promoting all sorts of art ranging from, well, fashion to dancing and street art. So it’s time to begin snapping away in front of exciting Harajuku street art with the help of your guide! Other than viewing unique indoor illuminations, you will get the chance to admire outdoor murals and sculptures – it’s really up to you to explore, since MagicalTrip’s Harajuku tour is built around you. So if you want to explore somewhere or something with your guide, go for it!
There’s no better way to round off a Harajuku tour than with some fresh Okonomiyaki. And what’s more, you get to make it yourself! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Okonomiyaki, think of it as a savoury pancake. The base ingredients tend to be flour, egg and cabbage for the mix, but the additional topping options are limitless. Locals tend to enjoy sweetcorn, pork and bonito flakes (to name a few). It is often served with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. For the vegetarians and vegans, don’t worry – MagicalTrip has ensured there are appropriate menu options, so you don’t miss out on some of the best okonomiyaki in Tokyo!
With some Harajuku art showcased within the restaurant too, you’ll surely be left feeling full – figuratively and literally!
Well that wraps up our look into the Harajuku shopping district. Go ahead, look for the same fashionable, kawaii and hip vibe anywhere else in Tokyo. But I’d be willing to bet nothing can match Harajuku’s clothing stores, street art and of course, the fashion.
Whether it’s for the Harajuku fashion or food experience, there is no denying that you need MagicalTrip by your side. Offering the best tours by locals in Tokyo, at ridiculously affordable prices, make the most of your Harajuku trip with → MagicalTrip ←
If you’ve clicked the link above and booked already, why not build up the anticipation and enjoy a virtual Harajuku tour?