Harajuku is the ultimate shopping and fashion district in Tokyo, where Japan’s most outrageous outfits and creative clothing combinations can be seen. Young people shop in its seemingly perpetual line of stores, or just hang out dressed up in their favorite anime costumes or made up like famous rock stars. On Sundays, Harajuku is especially teeming with these fashion-oriented teens, who gather in the area for a costume play, or “cosplay”.
One can get there by foot or by train. By foot, it is only 15 minutes away from Shibuya in the west of Tokyo.
To get there by train, there are the Harajuku and Meiji Jingumae Stations which are adjacent to each other.
The main street in Harajuku is Takeshita Street, or Takeshita Dori. Its stores target preteens and teenagers who are out to purchase Japan’s latest and exotic trends. Most of the stores here are fairly priced for the younger crowd. Daiso Harajuku is located along this street, and sells all sorts of items – from clothes to kitchen items to stationery to makeup – at 105 yen each (100 yen plus 5 percent consumption tax). There are also shops owned by famous celebrities, whose goods for sale are frantically purchased by teens who adore them.
Omotesando is another major shopping strip, but its stores sell a little more expensive items since their merchandise also target adults than just teens. Louis Vitton opened its largest store along this avenue in 2002. Esquisse Omotesando sells branded items like Gucci, Zara, and Chanel. Kiddy Land, a very popular toy store, is situated in this area as well. Its merchandise includes branded toys such as Hello Kitty and Disney characters. Cozy and upscale coffee shops also line the streets, apart from the boutiques, for those who wish to relax a bit in the middle of shopping.
Other well-known and frequently visited shopping stop-overs are LaForet Harajuku, Oriental Bazaar, and Snoopy Town. LaForet Harajuku caters mostly to young females who are seeking the latest and hottest trends, with its numerous boutiques and unending choices of shoes, clothing, makeup, and accessories. The Oriental Bazaar is for travelers and foreigners who wish to purchase souvenirs and other Japanese collectibles – kimonos, decorative dolls, tea sets, sake sets, among other things. Snoopy Town in Takeshita Dori sells a variety of Snoopy toys and other Snoopy-branded items.
The shop-til-you-drop mode elicited by several boutiques given all those funky and trendy items is further elicited by the youngsters who are short of modeling all possible outfit combinations right out of the stores’ shelves. These teens, when not shopping, just sit around and have their pictures taken or their made-up selves viewed and adored.
Visiting Harajuku is just like being temporarily transported right in the middle of a fantasy world – where various anime characters, punk rock stars, life-size gothic dolls, and gaming heroes come to life and walk amongst ordinary, everyday folk. What’s more, one can actually purchase any of these new looks in one go. It is also always worth going back to the stores because the styles and new items just keep coming. One will always find different batches of the younger crown exhibiting the latest fashion and the most popular anime hero or punk rocker. In Harajuku, there is always a reason to shop and get all dressed up.