See also: Best Things to Do in Tokyo
Meet Japan’s Kawaii and fashion capital, the city of Harajuku, where fashion meets culture and the two weave together more than just outfits. The city of Harajuku is famous not only for its amazing sense of fashion, but also for its heavenly and pocket-friendly street food, affordable and innovative food chains and cafés with amazing ambience, shopping centers and a lot more. Being a neighbor of Shibuya, one is surely to expect outstanding standards of teenage fashion out on the streets of Harajuku. The city has the most amazing fashion boutiques where one can have an outfit customized according to his/her own taste as well. Let us take a tour through the streets of Harajuku and witness the bliss of Harajuku’s crowded streets, thrift stores, fashion boutiques, theme-based cafes, and more and explore what to do in here-
Explore the Takeshita Street
The Takeshita Street is sure to top the itinerary of anyone planning a trip to Harajuku. It’s almost as if the Takeshita Street is the heart of Harajuku except that this is just the beginning of what Harajuku has in store for you. One of the busiest shopping streets in Japan, the Takeshita Street lies right next to the Harajuku Station. Lined with the most amazing fashion boutiques and little shops selling candies and crepes, this street is the go-to place for every fashionista in Japan. From dining to shopping, everything is available on the Takeshita Street. It is crowded almost all times of the year and that adds to the beauty and the liveliness of this place. One can easily find the best Kawaii inspired outfits from here and explore the Japanese culture.
Purikura, Rainbow Candies and more near the Takeshita Street area
Purikura, literally meaning the ‘print club,’ are those small photo booths scattered around the most popular streets in Tokyo. However, these are not your everyday photo booths. Like everything else in Japan, the Purikuras are the trendiest versions of your regular photo booth with beautiful captions, stickers, emojis and more. One can decide how to edit and enhance their crazy pictures and get them customized with filters, captions and stickers of their own choice and keep them as souvenirs. Other than this, the Takeshita Street area is also famous for the varieties of rainbow-colored candies, drinks and crepes which are sweet to taste and sweeter to the eyes. The giant Rainbow candy sold at the Totty Candy Shop is something you should not miss. An ice cream, a bowl of ramen and those mouth-watering pancakes across the street are yet again one of those delicacies quite difficult to avoid. While doing so, do not forget to click beautiful pictures with the colorful street acting as the perfect background.
Empty your wallet at Laforet
Laforet is another one of Harajuku’s most loved shopping destinations. This 13 storied building is home to more than 100 small fashion boutiques where one can shop for cute little accessories and trendy clothes. The biggest discount this place offers is during the New Year holidays. The weird part about this building is that the floors over here go like 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc. This place is mostly referred to as the “heart of Harajuku.” Apart from these mini stores, this place also has cute little cafes where one can relax and take a break from shopping. One can also visit the Laforet Museum to have a taste of music, modern art and culture at the 6th floor of the Laforet store. Even if you’re not a fashionista or a shopaholic, you can also enjoy sitting alongside one of the cafes over here and witness the youth trends being set just like that.
Shop more at the Tokyu Plaza
Noted amongst the topmost shopping centers in Tokyo, the Tokyu Plaza is one of the most amazing places to shop in Tokyo. Even if Harajuku has already dug a hole in your pocket and you do not have enough budget to go shopping again, you’ve got to at least visit the place. The kaleidoscopic mirrors at the entrance let you see your reflection from every angle possible. Not too far from the Laforet and at a walking distance from the Harajuku Station, this place is suitable for adults. The place is unique not only for the stores it houses, but also for a beautiful rooftop garden on the sixth floor of the building. One can grab a cup of coffee from the Starbucks on the 6th floor and enjoy the view from the top. Also, do not forget to take pictures.
Budget-friendly shopping at Daiso for 100 Yen only
A chain of these 100 Yen stores spread across entire Japan, the Daiso 100 Yen shops are ideal for household stuffs, snacks, drinks, toys and anything you might think of. Be it a kid or an adult, this store always has something or the other in store for everyone. The Daiso is located on the Takeshita Street and is one of those places you cannot miss when in Harajuku as this place is not only affordable, but cute and beautiful as well. Once you enter the Daiso, you cannot help obsessing over the cuteness this place has in store for you. Buy the things you need for your kitchen or maybe just roam around for a couple of souvenirs to take back home, you won’t find them cheaper anywhere else than here. This place also offers food guides to its international customers in English.
Dress like a Harajuku girl or wear a kimono and wander around the streets
You surely cannot miss out on this one, could you? How weird it would be if you visit the fashion and cultural hub of Tokyo and do not even try to blend into their culture? Therefore, do not forget to try one of those cool, trendy and colorful Kawaii-themed outfits and roam around like those Monster Girls at the Monster Café. As far as wearing a kimono is considered, this activity is regarded almost as one of the most essential rituals when in Harajuku. This gives you not only the opportunity to blend in, but also to have a taste of the rich Japanese culture. Wandering around the streets of Harajuku or exploring the Japanese art museums would be another level of experience.
Pay your respects at the Togo Shrine
Not too far from the Takeshita Street area is the Togo Shrine built to commemorate Togo Heihachiro who led Japan to victory in the war between Russia and Japan in 1904-06. This nature’s escape is what one needs after spending a day or two on the ever-crowded streets of Harajuku. This place is famous for its photogenic garden with a pond to add to its beauty. This green space oozes with positivity and an uncommon calmness, much in contrast with the hustle-bustle on the streets. The shrine is also famous for the Shinto-style weddings. Every now and then, you might be able to spot a beautiful newly wed Japanese couple posing in front of the camera in their traditional attire. This place is a perfect resting spot to organize your thoughts and plan on what to do next. Quite close to the Togo Shrine is the Meiji Shrine and one can just as well walk their way to reach another one of the green spaces in this vast and overcrowded city. When at the Meiji Shrine, do not forget to buy one of those little wooden plaques known as ema, write down your wish and hang it under the tree which would later on be offered to the Shintu gods.
A walk to remember around the Yoyogi Park
The beauty of the Yoyogi Park is at its peak during the spring season when it’s all pink in here with all the cherry blossom trees blooming at their fullest. However, whether the spring or the autumn suits this place best is debatable as during the autumn, the color red rules this place and is a feast to one’s eyes. This park also has a beautiful lake in between and one can spend some quality time sitting here. The park is towards the south of the Meiji Shrine and is quite famous as a picnic spot amongst the locals. One can also grab a plate of budget friendly snacks available around the park and feast on the culture of Harajuku and on the beauty of this place.
Formerly known as the Jingu Bashi Shrine Bridge, the Harajuku Bridge connects the Meiji Jingu and the Harajuku Bridge. This bridge has since long been the most loved hangout place amongst the Japanese girls representing Harajuku’s fashion trends. One of the most popular groups spotted here include the Lolita girls. Over the past few years, this bridge has gained a lot of popularity amongst the tourists owing to the cultural aspect of the place.
Snack like crazy at Calbee Plus
One of the most popular food chains along the Takeshita Street include the Calbee+ Store which serves the best Japanese flavors in a plate. Every single item in their menu is so mouth-watering that you cannot miss overeating here. Poterico, a potato sticks-like dish, is one of the most loved snacks across the entire Japan which is a product of the Cabee+ chain only. Their Potato Chips with Chocolate Drizzle are also heavenly. However, if luck isn’t in your favor and you do miss this place somehow, we have an alternative available for you. Almost in every other convenience store in Japan the packaged food items of Cablee+ are available which are as heavenly as the fresh ones.
Unleash your inner child at the Kiddy Land
Famous even amongst the Hollywood celebrities, Kiddy Land is almost like your Disney Land dream come true. Over here, one can shop cartoon related merchandise as much as one wants. It’s said that this place is a heaven for kids. We say, it’s equally heavenly for us adults as well. No matter how old we grow, there’s always a soft corner in the hearts of all of us where lies the memory of our favorite cartoon character. This place is hardly at a ten minutes’ walk from the Harajuku Station and stays open till 9 P.M. Kiddy Land is ideal also for buying souvenirs. P.S.- This place is also ideal for window shopping and clicking pictures.
Eat a Monster Lunch at the Kawaii-themed Monster Café
Once you enter inside this Kawaii-themed café, it feels as if it’s an entirely different world altogether. Inside, it’s all colorful. From the ambience to the dishes, this place serves love in the colors of rainbow. Over here, you can get yourself clicked at different sections of the café having separate themes. What sounds even more fantastic is the fact that this place features an altogether different atmosphere during the night hours to set the mood just right for the night owls. The female staff at this café is dressed up in Kawaii-themed fashion and are known as Monster Girls. Similar to the theme of the café, their costumes, their hairdo and accessories, all are colored in VIBGYOR. The dishes are served on paint palettes. Since this café is almost always full, we would recommend that you make an advance booking online.
Visit The Moshi Moshi Box
This cute little Visitor Centre in Harajuku is famous for the colorful and cute clock named Mushi Mushi. The Mushi Mushi Box is actually a tourist help center where apart from the sightseeing and touring options, other facilities such as currency exchange, maps, tourism services, etc. are also available. The place also offers a free WiFi service and has a stock of souvenirs to choose from. Similar to the Monster Café, this Kawaii-themed place was designed by Sebastian Masuda. This place also has a baggage facility at a reasonable price and is absolutely free for those who purchase something from here. This place is located at a walking distance from the Takeshita Street and should be on your list of things to do in Harajuku. P.S.- This place has maps and staff to help you out in ten different languages.