Fashion and Fun in Tokyo’s Harajuku District

April 19, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Uniquely Tokyo

Harajuku in Tokyo

Harajuku in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of flyingpurplemonkeys via Flickr.

It’s Sunday in Japan and Harajuku (in central Tokyo) is the place to be. In a small area just outside Harajuku station and Yoyogi Park a crowd of eccentrically dressed young Japanese is gathering for the weekly freaky fashion show.

Harajuku (between Shinjuku and Shibuya on the Yamanote Line) is an important meeting place and shopping area for Tokyo’s teen culture. Famous for its extreme and kooky fashion, Harajuku is full of quirky shops, fashion boutiques, second-hand clothes stores and food outlets all designed to tempt the young and fashion-conscious crowds.

The center of the action is on a street called Takeshita Dori. This narrow street bursts with shops and boutiques and hums with human traffic on the weekends. It’s a really great place to poke around and find some quirky fashions of your own! For a more familiar shopping experience, head to Omotesando – a long avenue full of international brands, cafes and restaurants.
Most Harajuku teenagers are happy to be photographed in their outfits and the best place to see them is on Jingu Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that connects Harajuku to Yoyogi Park or just outside Harajuku Station.

The Harajuku Style:

The Harajuku style can essentially be defined as mixing and mismatching fashions in unique ways. Key components of the style are layering, accessorizing, dying or styling hair and customising your outfit. While Harajuku fashions are remarkable for their uniqueness, there are a few different trends and styles that you might spot. They include:

  • Cosplay: Any costume that is designed to look like a cartoon, anime or computer game character.
  • Decora: Decora is all about being a walking accessory and decorating yourself with as much color and as many trinkets as you can.
  • Gothic Lolita: This look is feminine, elegant, Victorian and, of course, gothic.
  • Kawaii: You might hear people saying “ka-why-eeee” (cute) a lot during your travels (the Japanese have a real eye for cuteness). The Kawaii style is of course cute, childlike and unashamedly fluffy or frilly.
  • Punk: Punk is punk the world over but Harajuku punks manage to ‘out punk’ the rest.
  • Sweet Lolita: Think Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, Little Bo Peep and other girly, fantasy characters.
  • Wamono: Wamono is credited with starting the Harajuku fashion craze and involves mixing traditional Japanese clothes with Western fashion.

- Emma McMahon

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