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Tokyo (Harajuku) [Part II – More Shopping] October 6, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Harajuku) [Part II – More Shopping]” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-gd

Urahara is an area located just after Takeshita Street.  If you start from the station, just walk straight down Takeshita Street until you reach the next big street.  Once you cross the street, you are in Urahara.  This area is well known for its hip hop fashion.  Here, you will find brands such as “A Bathing Ape”, “Stussy”, “Alife”, and so on.  You can find all of the cool and unique sneakers here as well.  For hip hop enthusiasts, you can spend several days exploring all of the streets, and still not finish finding everything you wanted.  For those who aren’t into hip hop fashion, it’s still a very interesting area to visit.  You can see various shops with interesting names, and many of the hip hop shops are extremely stylized.  The area isn’t as built up as other areas of Tokyo, so it feels more open.  Being lost in this area will also give you a chance to see some of Tokyo’s own graffiti culture.  You may even find some of the craziest buildings in Tokyo.

If hip hop and teen fashion isn’t something you wear, you can always head down Omotesando Road.  To find this road, head to the Meiji Jingu exit, and instead of going over the bridge to the shrine, head left and down the hill.  This street contains a lot of mid level fashion brands such as Zara and the Gap.  Once you are near the bottom of the hill, at the first main intersection after the station, you will be at La Foret.  This is a small department store that caters to women’s fashion.  It’s a popular meeting and resting point for people.  You can easily see people of all fashions waiting outside.  If you head north, you’ll be greeted by long lines of Japanese people waiting to enter H&M and Forever 21.  These two new shops are located next door to each other and are part of the “fast fashion” boom that started in 2008.  Heading a little farther east, instead, you will be greeted by Kiddy Land, a large toy shop that has almost everything you could ever want, and Oriental Bazaar, which sells “Japanese” goods.  It’s a tourist’s heaven.

If you walk a few buildings east of Kiddy Land, you’ll reach Omotesando.  Omotesando is an area that is located next to Harajuku, but for all intents and purposes, can easily be the same area.  This area is almost exactly the same as Ginza.  Here, you’ll find all of the expensive name brand shops.  Omotesando Hills is the anchor to this district.  Here, you’ll be able to walk in a nice air conditioned mall that spirals from the top floor to the basement.  If you don’t have a big wallet, it isn’t necessary to visit this place.  However, sometimes they have art exhibits, and the building itself was designed by the famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando.

Harajuku is a wonderful place to spend at least a day.  If you love the fashion, even three days may not be enough.  There are so many small streets for shopping that you may never be able to cover everything.   As with any other area of Tokyo, it is changing constantly.  If you visit Harajuku one year, it will definitely be different the next year.  How different and if your favourite shop is still there, that’s something I could never answer.  The only down side is that you should visit soon if you want to see the goth lolitas of Japan, or else they may not be there next year.

The following links are all about Harajuku:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3006.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku
http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Harajuku

This is Part II of a II part series.  To read more about Harajuku, please head over to Part I.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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Tokyo (Harajuku) [Part I – Shrines, People, and Shopping] September 29, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Harajuku) [Part I – Shrines, People, and Shopping]” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-gb

Harajuku is a place where you can see almost everything Tokyo has to offer in a small compact area.  You will be able to see the old Japan, namely Meji Jingu, one of the quietest and biggest shrines in Tokyo.  You can also see almost every type of fashion that Japanese boys and girls love.  You have the goth lolitas, cheap and trendy, hip hop, and expensive and glamorous.  Harajuku was popularized in Gwen Stefani’s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” album that was released in 2004.  This included four back up dancers of Japanese descent who dressed in a stylized Harajuku style.  While their style is far from what you’ll see in Harajuku itself, Harajuku’s fashion can easily be said to be the inspiration to the Harajuku Girls fashion.

If you head to Harajuku, I’d recommend going early and having a nice walk around Meiji Jingu.  It is a long walk from the station to the main temple, but it’s much better in the morning when it isn’t too hot.  The opposite can also be said about the temple in the winter time.  Going in the afternoon when it’s a little warmer might be better.  It’s best to avoid this temple in the rain.  I will write about Meiji Jingu in greater detail in a future post.

Most people who visit Harajuku go for one major reason.  They want to see all of the goth lolitas.  Several years ago, there were lots of people in Harajuku that dressed up in gothic style clothes, or even as lolitas.  It’s not uncommon to see people in maid outfits as well.  If you do a search for Japanese Punk, or Goth music, you can see a sampling of what some people wear in Harajuku.  By and far, the biggest name in Japanese Punk, although you could say glam rock or “visual-kei” is Gakt.  He is a very eccentric man who is a bit of a narcissist.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen too many people dressed up in Harajuku.  I’m guessing that the police have cracked down and forced them to find a new place to hang out.  They may have also been pushed out by the tourists and their inability to just enjoy themselves.  I would imagine that there are still many of them hanging about around 5pm on weekdays, and in the afternoons on the weekend.  You may even be lucky to find a few people with signs promoting “Free Hugs”.  This was a popular thing to do for these kids a few years ago, and a few people still do it.  Today, I tend to notice more foreign people dressed up as goth lolitas rather than Japanese people.  If you are still interested in looking for these people, the best place to see them is on a small bridge leading to Meiji Jingu.  If you don’t see many people, aside from the tourists, you came at the wrong time, or the wrong day.  Diligence is very important if you must see them.

The most famous street in Harajuku is Takeshita Street.  It’s located in front of the Takeshita Exit from the station.  This street is about 400 metres and closed to all traffic.  At all times of the day, this street is crowded.  On weekends, you’ll be lucky to move up or down the street without breathing down someone’s neck.  It’s a very hectic street that isn’t for the light hearted.  However, this is the centre of the teenage fashion in Harajuku.  You’ll be able to see everything from maid outfits, to S&M style clothing, and even some cosplay outfits.  One of the more famous things to do is to line up and buy a crepe.  Being the teen heaven that it is, crepes are the perfect date food, or just a nice desert with friends.  It’s far from the French version of crepes.  These crepes are a little heavier, rolled with lots of cream and stuffed with a few pieces of fruit.  You can also buy savoury crepes with ham, lettuce, or even cheese.  If teen fashion isn’t really your thing, but finding a good deal is, look north along Takeshita Street and somewhere along the middle of the street, you’ll find Togo Shrine.  This shrine, in and of itself, isn’t that important.  However, if you are there on first Sunday of the month, it’s worth a short visit to see the flea market.  It is famously known for selling antique furniture, but you can also find a lot of interesting old things that aren’t priced at flea market prices.  Do feel free to bargain, but don’t expect them to do too much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_Shrine (About Meiji Shrine)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku_Girls (Information about Harajuku Girls)

This is Part I of a II part series.  For more on Harajuku, continue reading Part II.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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