THIS ARTICLE IS STILL BEING (RE)WRITTEN, AND I’VE STILL GOT TO REINTEGRATE ALL ILLUSTRATIONS, BUT THE CONTENT IS THERE SO I THOUGH I MIGHT AS WELL MAKE IT AVAILABLE ASAP 🙂
On one side of Harajuku Station, a long street stretches out into Roppongi, its name is Takeshita Dori and it is the haven of Visual Key and Kawaii Cultures ; on the other, a vast forest, host to one of the largest Shrine in Tokyo and, arguably, its most lively park. Welcome to Harajuku!
Whilst technically part of Shibuya’s ward and also very fashion-oriented, Harajuku has its very own atmosphere and culture.
There are two main characteristic streets in Harajuku: Takeshita Dori, home to Kawaii and alternative cultures, and Omotesando avenue, which is sometimes nicknamed « Tokyo’s Champs Elysées » because of the local profusion of high-end fashion stores.
Yoyogi-koen, an artificial forest planted in 1920, is one of the biggest parks in Tokyo and home to Meiji-jingu, one of the most famous shinto temple in Japan.
As of early 2018, Harajuku station is being restructured to allow for smoother traffic in the perspective of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Find a way through takeshita dori
Takeshita Dori is a second home to many students who gather on Sundays, when they don't have to wear school uniforms and can express their distinct taste for fashion freely.
Takeshita Dori thus welcomes many trends such as the Lolita, Visual Key and Kawaii aesthetics, the later referring to the culture of cuteness which usually transcribes into youthful, brightly colored outfits and the multiplication of props.
Takeshita Dori can get pretty crowded on weekends, hence the title "find a way". Although the main shops are situated directly on Takeshita, a lot can be found in the few streets around so don't hesitate losing your way !
upgrade your garderobe with the cutest props
If you are into creative clothing and colourful props, Harajuku is the place to be, so much so that many trendy Visual Key bands (such as AnCafe or Dir En Grey) have been spotted shopping in Takeshita Dori for the latest outfits.
Because of the cultural emulation there, it is not rare to have journalist roaming around documenting new trends and the ever-changing youth fashion landscape :Julie and I were even filmed and shown on Asahi TV following one a session of shopping in Takeshita Dori !
discover fusion cuisine with a crêpe
Kawaii (cute, adorable) does not only apply to people and their clothes, but also to characters and objects, even to food ! Such combination gave birth to Harajuku's goodness-stuffed crepes and charabens, a word made of the contraction of character and bento (lunchbox), cutesy meals representing characters using eatable elements only !
Harajuku's crêpe are also the perfect occasion to learn about the concept of fusion cuisine. Although originally rich with hundreds of recipe, Japanese gastronomy underwent a creative boom in the last few centuries as the country opened to western influence. A lot of the new recipe include or are based on western recipes that are revisited in a Japanese way.
Fusion cuisine hence refers to the coming together of Japanese and Western gastronomy.
spot performers in Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi-Koen (meaning Park or Garden) is an artificial forest that was planted in 1920 and resulted in what must be the second largest park in Tokyo.
It is well known for the crowd of performers it hosts, especially on Sundays, when people come out to play music or dance together.
On Sundays, if you're lucky, you might find the Rockabilly dancers performing rock music from the 1950's whilst wearing leather outfits and waxed haircuts.
A perfect occasion to sit back and enjoy the (free) show !
dress up for purikuras
Typical example of wasei-eigo (Japanese-made english), the word Purikura is the contraction of english words, "print club", pronounced in a japanese way ("purintu kurabu").
It refers to very fancy photo-booth packing many customization features and beautifying effects. They come in many varieties, fitted with different themes from Kawaii to more sexy effects and are very popular amongst teens who flock in groups and sometimes even wear costumes for custom photo sessions.
A typical Purikura booth can usually accommodate up to 6 person and cost ¥400 per session. You'll be asked how many people are participating so that the booth can print as many photo strips as required (although the more you are the thinner the strips usually will be).
get blessed in meiji shrine
Meiji Shrine was built in 1920, a few years after the Emperor and his wife's death, to commemorate their eternal soul. Destroyed during the Second World War, it was quickly rebuilt afterwards. The shrine is set in an artificial forest of great proportions, providing peace and quiet to the temple grounds.
Emperor Meiji's reign began after the end of the Shogunate during the 1850's and brought about modernization and open-ness toward the rest of the world, which drastically changed the face of Japan which had been observing strict isolationism for almost 300 years before that. Numerous gifts to the Emperor such as casks of French wine or sake can be found in the park, and are as many occasion to learn about the Meiji era. /!\ The Shrine will be undergoing repairs in preparation for its 100th anniversary in 2020 so some building my be closed /!\
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