Harajuku: the cutting-edge center of Japan’s growing fashion industry. All the latest trends–from street fashion and vintage clothes to cosplay and anything else you can think of–can be found here. Aside from fashion, there are many trendy and unique cafes in the surrounding area. If you want to experience the new trends in fashion, food, and sweets, Harajuku is a must see!
Near Harajuku, there is a neighborhood called Aoyama. Aoyama is one of the wealthiest areas of Tokyo, filled with fancy and very trendy stores, restaurants, and cafes. Come to Aoyama to see what life is like as a celeb in Tokyo!
A long time ago, during the Edo Period, Harajuku was a small village owned by the Iga Clan. The Iga clan was one of the largest and most well known Ninja Clans of the time, making the roots of Harajuku a Ninja village! The duties of the Iga Clan were to protect the Shogunate in Edo, and so Harajuku, being in the perfect location to do so, was chosen. The village itself was a small agricultural village, producing mainly rice and flour.
Due to the poor quality of the land in the area, Harajuku never really prospered until the chain of events that took place after World War Two. The United States constructed a housing residence in the area for soldiers and their families. Many shops opened in the area to provide for these soldiers. This is said to be the start of modern Harajuku, and by 1970 it had slowly evolved into the young, trendy fashion town that it is today.
Aoyama, on the other hand, was a residential area for samurais in the Edo period. The name Aoyama is actually derived from a master samurai named Aoyama Tadanari who served and protected the Shogunate. Although it may have been in very different ways, both Ninjas and Samurais all came together as one in their duty to protect the shogunate.
Unlike the rest of Harajuku, Cat street is very quiet and relaxed. This is the best street for you fashion lovers out there! There are many High End stores, including everybody’s favorite brands and not-so-mainstream places as well. There are many second hand stores with clothes from any decade, start-up designer Japanese brands, and much more! You are sure to find many stores that fit your style, and you’ll have the chance to see the huge variety of styles that can be found in the city of Tokyo! Take a break and have a nice, relaxing stroll through Cat Street.
The Meiji Shrine is the most visited shrine in Japan for many reasons: its beauty, what is symbolizes, and its convenient location about 1 minute away from Harajuku train station.
This Shrine was built in commemoration of the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken, and what they accomplished in the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Restoration marked a historic shift in power from the Shogun, the ruler of the Edo Period, back to the Emperor of the Imperial Government. In the shrine, there are two precincts: the Naien, the inner precinct, which has a treasure museum, and the Gaien, the outer precinct, which contains many murals of the meiji period. Both are very interesting, and the shrine is great place to take some nice photos!
Takeshita Dori, or Takeshita Street, is the Kawaii Culture Capital of Tokyo. It is a long and narrow street that starts from the JR Yamanote line station. Takeshita Street is home to the most colorful and cute shops ever! The street is filled with fashion brands, accessory shops, and insta-friendly food. For example, you can try rainbow cotton candies and the famous Harajuku crepes. Too sweet to be true! During weekends, the street is full of young Japanese people, looking for the latest trend and the most extravagant accessories. Here you will see shops selling very distinct and original clothing, such as Gothic, Lolita, and Hip-Hop styles.
You can also spot people dressed in creative and often bizarre outfits, and some of them are even local celebrities. The most unique of them sometimes turn into world famous icons, like Kyari Pamyu Pamyu. Takeshita Street has become famous among tourists from all over the world. Some of them come here to spot Japanese teens with their colorful attires, and some of them have already embraced the “kawaii” side of Japan.
After doing some shopping and grabbing a crepe in one of the many little side streets off of Takeshita Dori (Takeshita is too crowded, better find a quieter alley to enjoy the crepe), where do these colorful teens go to relax? If the weather is good, Yoyogi Park is just a few minutes away, and it is the perfect place to take a break. Yoyogi Park is one of the biggest parks in Tokyo. The park is popular for viewing sakura, or cherry blossoms, as well as for autumn leaves. Several festivals are held in the park all year around, and it is a perfect spot for picnics!
A great place for shopping with elegant architecture, Omotesando Hills is a huge shopping complex with a very modern look. Filled with new and trendy Japanese designer brands, big name brands, and many more interesting stores from around the globe. This building is designed in such a way that you can simply walk up a circular slope that goes around the inside of the complex, meaning you do not have to go up any stairs or escalators (although they are available as well) to change floors. You can walk from the bottom to the top without missing any of the stores! There are also many restaurants in the complex, so if you get hungry you can also drop by.
Still haven’t tried the famous and trendy fluffy pancakes Japan has to offer? Stop by Gram and enjoy a coffee and some delicious fluffy Pancakes. The pancakes at this cafe has been described as “Kiseki no Pancake” meaning miracle pancakes. Try this miracle first handedly, we assure that you will be pleasantly surprised.
Address: 1 Chome−9−30, 1F, Jingumae, Shibuya
Kawaii Monster Cafe
Bored of your average cafe? Stop by the Kawaii Monster Cafe, it is an experience you can only do in Japan. Kawaii means cute, and there are many cute monsters and colorful foods that you can try here. The Cafe is divided into 4 areas. Including a bar, cafe, lounge, and even a merry go round! Each area has a different theme, all very colorful and unique. The staff are called “Monster Girls” and are dressed up in the crazy Harajuku style you may have seen walking around the area! Stop by for a bit, you’ll think you are on a different planet!
Address: 4 Chome−31−10, YM Square 4F, Jingumae, Shibuya
Hedgehog Cafe Harii
Japan is very famous for its animal cafes, and the most famous ones include cat cafes and owl cafes. But that is not all there is–there are many more, such as reptile, bird, even insect cafes (for some reason). In Harajuku, there is a hedgehog cafe where you can play with hedgehogs while enjoying a nice coffee. There aren’t many opportunities where you can get up close and personal with hedgehogs, so why not give it a try? You can even pick them up! Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt, just a little prickly.
Address: 1 Chome−13−21, Shanzer Harajuku２, Jingumae, Shibuya
Mori no Terrace (Forest Terrace)
Right at the entrance to the forest surrounding the Meiji Shrine, there is a nice little cafe. There are seats lined up against a giant window, giving you a superb view of the giant Torii Gate marking the entrance to the Meiji Shrine. Relax with a nice cup of coffee and some sweets as you enjoy the nature around you. Being in a giant city such as Tokyo can get tiring, but this is the perfect place for a forest getaway without leaving the city. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Meiji Shrine while you’re at it!
Address: 1 Chome – 1, Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
Walking around the Aoyama area can get very tiring. Why not take a break in one of the most beautiful tea houses in the area? The Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is filled with many flowers from around the world, and you will feel like you are inside a flower shop. Let the aroma of the flowers and a nice cup of herbal tea give you the relaxation that you deserve. Alcohol is also an option, if you’re so inclined–after all, you’re on vacation, so it’s never too early to have a drink!
Where to Shop in Harajuku
There are a million things you can do in Harajuku, so let us introduce a couple of places that you just have to see for yourself!
Japanese street fashion is often considered to be the cutting-edge of the industry, and Bape is where all of this began. It is the first major street fashion brand of Japan to go international, and it’s said that the trend in street fashion all began thanks to Bape. Whether you are into this style or not, we think this place worth a look!
Address: 4 Chome-21-５, Jingumae, Shibuya
There are many large shopping complexes in Harajuku, and one of the must-sees is called Laforet. Located on the main street of Harajuku, Laforet is very easy to find. Inside, there are countless Japanese brands of every genre. There are plenty of favorites and well-known brands here as well. Most of the stores are also tax free, so save some money as you shop and enjoy Harajuku. (Passport required for tax free shopping)
Address: 1 Chome-11-6, Jingumae, Shibuya
A+S（Architecture and Sneakers）
Who doesn’t love shoes? Stop by A+S for the best sneakers in town. This store has a unique selection of sneakers from major brands such as Nike, Adidas, and more. The interior of the store is very relaxing and minimalistic. Designed to be simple and clean, you can actually hang out and relax in this store as well. Many stores in Harajuku are trying a new style of shopping experience, making the stores not only a place to shop but a place to relax and enjoy conversations as well. Your outfit is not complete without a pair of nice shoes, so make sure to stop by!
What to Eat in Harajuku
Have you tried wagyu yet? If not, you must before you leave Japan! You can enjoy A-5 rank, top of the line, Black Haired Wagyu Steak for a decent price. You can be seated at either a table or the counter. We recommend sitting at the counter so you can see your wagyu being cooked right in front of you. The wine selection here is amazing, so you can enjoy your steak with some wine picked specially to go with your wagyu beef!
Address: 5 Chome−4−27, Minamiaoyama, Minato
Salmon Bowl Kumada ($$)
Sushi–Japan’s most beloved food and everybody’s favorite. Many people don’t know this, but there are actually other dishes in which you can enjoy fresh seafood in Japan. One of our personal favorites is the salmon bowl. Here, you will get fresh, Japan-caught salmon along with other seafood artistically placed on top of a bowl of rice. The salmon bowl looks so beautiful that it will make you not want to eat it! A nice place to take photos to show off to your friends back home. Don’t even get us started on the taste! You simply must go.
Address: 3 Chome-20-10, B1, Jingumae, Shibuya
Traditional Japanese food with a slight twist. At Itoya, the chefs will prepare for you a traditional Japanese meal in French style. In Japan, presentation is the most important concept for food, and Itoya took this a step further and made it into an art form. The dishes look so good, it’s hard to indulge yourself. Snap some pictures and enjoy the food! The taste is even better than the appearance.
Address: 2 Chome-19-1, 1F, Minamiaoyama, Minato
Okonomiyaki is one of the most underrated, yet most delicious Japanese foods. Also known as the “Japanese pancake,” it is a combination of many ingredients, including cabbage, meat, seafood, noodles, and just about anything else you can think of. There are two styles: the Osaka style, and the Hiroshima style. At Usagi, you can enjoy the Hiroshima style (which we think is tastier), where the ingredients are layered on top of one another. If you want to try a dish that is not so well-known, give okonomiyaki a try!
Address: 1 Chome 22-1, 1F, Jingumae, Shibuya
Yakitori and Craft Beer
Harajuku Taproom ($$-$$$)
For all of you craft beer lovers out there, the perfect place for you is located in Harajuku. At the Taproom you can enjoy many different types of Japanese craft beers, including ales, stouts, lagers, IPAs… you name it! Taproom also offers yakitori (grilled chicken on a stick), one of Japan’s most popular traditional drinking foods. From our personal experience, we can say that yakitori and beer is the ultimate combination. See for yourself, drop by the Taproom and enjoy!
Address: 1 Chome-20-13 Jingumae, Shibuya
Come over to Harajuku to get a look at the evolving fashion industry. Indulge yourself in the mind-blowing cafes and sweets, or grab something delicious to eat. You’re bound to have a great time in this part of Tokyo.