Harajuku is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable areas of Tokyo. To visit the area’s trendy streets, full of colorful fashion and endless shopping, is a crucial activity for a trip through Tokyo. Situated right next to the notorious Shibuya, Harajuku is an epicenter of fashion, youth, and counterculture.
But as dazzling as this neighborhood is, it can seem daunting to wade through its madness. While it may be easy to follow the current of a large crowd, Harajuku has certain unique and must-see spots that serve as perfect introductions to the area’s charm and reputation. Three streets in particular, Takeshita Dori, Meiji Street, and Cat Street, are the basis for a guide to Tokyo’s hip and lively Harajuku.
With an entrance located across the street and to the left from Harajuku Station, Takeshita Street is a Harajuku landmark, full of the counterculture, quirky Japanese souvenirs and accessories, and trending fashion that defines Harajuku. Often crowded and colorful, Takeshita Dori contains numerous small clothing boutiques and trinket stores. Takeshita Street can seem overwhelming and dizzying, but has so much to offer that it’s hard not to emerge with full shopping bags of unique and totally necessary items.
Crepe Stands – As it’s no question that shopping is a highly physical activity, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty hungry as your day in Harajuku progresses. Make sure to stop by one of the various creperies scattered throughout Takeshita Dori. These colorful crepe stands offer a wide variety of crepes, ranging from desserts to lunch crepes. The best thing about the crepes you’ll find on Takeshita Street (and surrounding its entrance on Meiji Street) is that they are made to go, so you’ll be able to find a quiet corner to enjoy your snack.
Candy A Go Go! – Another place on Takeshita Dori to indulge yourself in food rather than fashion, Candy A Go Go! is a large, colorful, and vibrant candy store that’s hard to miss. It’s usually crowded, a clear indication of just how popular the store’s candy is. Candy A Go Go! is an amusement park for candy. It’s filled with candy of different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. It’s quite easy to leave with not just tons of candy, but some toothaches, as well. It’s a perfect place to pick up some candy that’s unique to Japan.
Small stores and boutiques – Lining Takeshita Dori are tons of boutiques and stores selling a range of clothing and accessories. These stores often carry the latest trends as well as pieces for a more counterculture style. Many unique and affordable items can be found all throughout Takeshita Dori’s small boutiques and stores, and are perfect for achieveing a quirky individual style. Also in many small stores and boutiques are cosplay pieces and accessories, as well as shirts, bags, and even pants sporting Disney and anime characters.
Meiji Street is a long strip of stores, restaurants, department stores, and boutiques. There are many high-end stores as well as affordable options to choose from. Likewise, Meiji Street offers original Japanese brand clothing and accessories, as well as foreign and Western brands. Walking straight down from the station, you will reach a large intersection. Turning left or right situates you on Meiji Street. It is usually a crowded, bustling street, full of youthful trends and fashion statements.
Wego – Wego is a popular, fashionable, and lively chain of stores found in Tokyo. Many of the clothes, accessories, bags, and shoes are affordable yet well made. Wego is always up-to-date with the latest trends and styles. Pieces from Wego range from simple and basic to unique and bold. Wego also sells many graphic tees and sweatshirts with quirky designs, patterns, and phrases. You will definitely want to take something home with you from Wego, and one can be found on Meiji Street, right near the large Jonathan’s.
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando – This shopping complex is hard to miss. Heading straight from Harajuku Station and reaching the intersection, you will find Tokyu Plaza Omotesando right across the street, situated on the street corner. The complex features several floors of various shopping boutiques, selling items such as women’s clothes, jewelry, and even souvenirs and hobbyist collectibles. There are many different styles to choose from here, as well as a few cafes and coffee shops.
LaForet – LaForet is one of Harajuku’s most recognized shopping complexes. This large department store features a huge selection of shops and boutiques catering to different styles and trends. With a basement level, two half-basement levels, six upper levels, and several half upper levels, LaForet is a colossal shopping building full of vibrancy and youth. It is fairly easy to, sometimes unwittingly, spend many hours in LaForet perusing the vast multitude of shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Cat Street is Harajuku’s laid-back, quieter shopping street. It runs parallel to Meiji Street and feels more downtown than other areas of Harajuku. Shoppers are usually older, and stores and boutiques are usually more expensive. Cat Street provides a leisurely shopping experience, as it is generally less crowded than Takeshita Dori or Meiji Street, but it is no less vibrant and animated. Alongside chic stores and boutiques are many small cafes for a quick bite to eat. Access Cat Street through its entrance on Omotesando Avenue or through one of Meiji Street’s many side streets.
Beauty and Youth – A sophisticated women’s clothing store, catering to all ages. In addition to women’s clothing, Beauty and Youth also sells jewelry, shoes, and various other accessories. In the store there is also a home goods section, selling many miscellaneous home and interior decorative goods. The store carries the Beauty and Youth label, and other name brands, such as Levi’s, Adidas, and Lee. Beauty and Youth clothing is elegant, sporty, and chic, and while the clothing is expensive, the high quality will ensure they last you a lifetime.
W Closet – A small boutique that sells the trending styles but for more reasonable prices compared to other outlets on Cat Street. With its rustic interior, W Closet has a cool, down to earth atmosphere, much like Cat Street itself. The clothes are simple yet fashionable, complimenting a variety of individual styles and outfits. From jeans to stripe shirts, cropped sweaters to colorful sneakers, W Closet provides a more affordable yet no less trendy shopping experience on Cat Street.
too cool for school – This small makeup store can be found on both Cat Street and Meiji Street. A Korean cosmetics brand, too cool for school sells a variety of makeup and cosmetics in different shades and sizes. The boutique’s eyeliners, mascaras, blushes, and eye shadows are high quality and diverse, complimenting different skin tones and styles. In addition to makeup, too cool for school sells moisturizers, soaps, and facial masks, and the sales employees will let you try the cosmetics from their testing samples.
Harajuku has even more to offer than the shops, boutiques, and food venues listed in this guide. Exploring the multiple winding side streets, small stores, and restaurants is a great way to fully experience Tokyo’s center for trend setting.