With a mere 48ish hours on the ground during my first trip to Tokyo, any thought I had of discovering the whole sprawling city was quickly quashed, if not by the fact that one morning we were woken in the dark by earthquake tremors (seriously!), by the sheer amount of sashimi I managed to consume during that short time. Rather than dashing all over the city and seeing absolutely everything, we decided to focus on one or two areas, with the knowledge that we would go back sometime soon to see more of the city. One of the areas I enjoyed the most was around Harajuku, the centre of teen culture in Tokyo (surely you’ve heard of Harajuku girls, if not only in Gwen Stefani songs?), which informally stretches between Harajuku Station and Omotesando. I thought I would share what I saw and a few pics. Because I only got to spend a short time in the area, I know I probably missed things, so please add anything extra in the comments.
Begin your day at Harajuku Station, and work your way through the lanes, streets and stores. Almost directly outside the station is Takeshita Dori, on which you’ll pass:
- Daiso – Japan has the best 100 yen (ie dollar) stores ever, and this one a few hundred metres down Takeshita Dori is four floors of Japanese tat an its best. Splurge (ie spend $10) on stationary, stickers, notebooks, random japense sweets, socks and whatever else takes your fancy.
- Crepe Stands: About midway down Takeshita Dori you’ll find a bunch of iconic crepe stands, including Santa Monica Crepes, which sell a dizzying array of crepes, packed with out-of-this world fillings, including whole pieces of chocolate cake, piles of strawberries and mountains of cream. As much for looking as for eating.
- Beauty stores: There is a cheap beauty store / pharmacy on Takeshita Dori which is a fun place to see what the Japanese are into in terms of make up and skin care these days – always lots of curiosities which no doubt we’ll all be wearing in the west in a few years.
- Numerous clothing stores: If it’s inexpensive trend clothing you’re after, Takeshita Dori is the place for you. There are literally hundreds of stores selling logo tees, mini skirts and everything in between. Bag it up!
- Vintage stores in the back alleys: For slightly more interesting (and long lasting) fare, the small laneways that branch of Takeshita Dori have lots of vintage boutiques. The Japanese are so careful with their clothing that vintage clothes feel almost like brand new!
Walk all the way to the end of Takeshita Dori and you’ll come to a crossing. On the other side of the street, you’ll find the main Harajuku street (note the big signs) branching to the left and straight ahead. Take the left first and you’ll find lots of amazing vintage and jewellery stores. Wander all the way to the end and then walk back the way you’ve come until you’re back at the crossing with Takeshita Dori, and take a left down onto the other Harajuku Lane. Follow it down the main drag and to the right and you’ll pass loads of fun stores. Around here on this main street and amongst the lanes you’ll find:
- Bookmarcs: Marc Jacobs book store with a amazing selection of coffee table books and gifts.
- Chicago: Two floors of vintage clothes including amazing kimonos in the top back corner.
- Winged Wheel: This is a bit further into the laneways but such a gorgeous stationary store.
- Maison Tonkatsu: If you’re feeling peckish stop off at this Tonkatsu diner for crumbed pork Tokyo style.
- In the laneways you’ll find lots more vintage and Kimono, too many to name!
Once you’ve exhausted these areas (you’ll probably be exhausted too!) walk out onto the main street of Omotesando and use the pedestrian overpass to walk to Oriental Bazaar, by far the best place I visited in terms of gorgeous Japanese crockery, kimonos, stationary etc. Then you could also check out all the stores around Omotesando (I opted out at this point because I get my fill of high end stores in Hong Kong) and Aoyama. If you’ve still got some energy, make sure you check out Meiji Jingu, the most amazing shrine and park at the back of Harajuku Station. Enjoy!
Stickers at Daiso | Fabrics at Chicago
If you are lucky enough to see Harajuku on a Sunday you should get ready for teenage Lolita-land!
Tea canisters (if only my suitcase were triple the size).
It’s all kinda blurry as to where exactly this laneway was but it felt like a glimpse into true Tokyo to me.
All the bows on Takeshita Dori (fyi, I bought that whole outfit!).
Mixing prints felt only right for a day in Harajuku | Dresses at Chicago
Cushion lolita tote on Harajuku lane.
There seemed to be lots of schoolgirls skiving off when I was there on a Monday, stocking up on important things (i.e. hair bows, lip gloss and blue contact lenses).
Adorable chopstick holders at the Oriental Bazaar.
I did glimpse one or two Harajuku girls! | Plastic food on display, unusual yes, but it makes it oh so easy to choose the set you want.
Kimonos at Chicago
The beauty shops were overflowing with coloured contact lenses, I contemplated trying out blue ones but couldn’t commit (I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a good look for me).
The Marc Jacobs bookshop had a fantastic collection of books.
Aumtum leaves on Omotesando | Silks at the kimono store off Harajuku lane.
All the paper.
So many cute clothes stores around the Harajuku area | Vintage coach bag heaven.
You’ll desperately need some food to get you through. This was actually breakfast.
More vintage around Harajuku
If you find yourself lost on a side street, rest assured you’ll always be able to get hold of a cold drink, so long as you have some small change.
Vintage store (currently having ‘didn’t-buy-the-bucket-bag regrets) | Clothing store in the laneways behind the Oriental Bazaar.
One more for the road. Who knew there were so many ways to eat a crepe? #drooling
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