If you ever stop by Tokyo on your visit to Japan – Harajuku is a must to see.
Situated in Omotesando, Harajuku is a unique place, famous around the world for its exclusive fashion appeals.
Taking a full day to visit the area is highly recommended – there is much to see.
One of the most famous streets in Tokyo – the Takeshita Dori (dori means street in Japanese) is known for its incredible fashion boutiques and shops. Some may not know, but the street is actually named after Takeshita Isamu – a famous admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy (his family’s house was located there).
It is better to visit Takeshita Dori on weekends, but only if you don’t mind the crowds. However some insist that the crowds are one of the major ‘charms’ the place has as it adds to the attraction of the place.
Many people cosplay/ dress up in Lolita fashion style clothes and walk around. Some dresses may cost up to $800 without any accessories alone. Tourists visit to take photos and post them on blogs, however you must ask for permission first.
Some say that all the major fashion trends start from Harajuku – the clash of different styles and designs contribute to new trends.
The Oriental Bazaar is a well-known place to shop for Japanese souvenirs and gifts for tourists. Instead of going around many different places in search of specific things, you can walk in to this lovely store and you will surely find what you were looking for!
Yukatas, kimonos, Japanese toys and books – everything is there.
The shop itself is foreign-friendly and you will have no problem in communicating with the staff.
The basement floor and the first floor contain clothes, toys and typical gifts, while the top floor contains antique Japanese furniture and prints.
If you have friends coming from abroad, or if you are a tourist yourself – the Oriental Bazaar is highly recommended to visit to stock up on presents and gifts/souveniers.
One of the most famous New Year and wedding shrines – the Meiji shrine is located in the middle of Harajuku.
To get to the actual shrine, you would have to walk for 10-15 minutes through a wide ‘forest’. Compared to the hustled Tokyo life outside the park, this is a quiet and refreshing place to take a walk. There are many different routes you can take and enjoy.
The shrine was built with the finest cypress in dedication to Emperor Meiji and his wife.
If you are lucky, you might be able to catch Japanese traditional Shinto weddings that still undergo there today. They take place quite frequently in the morning or early afternoons.
One of Japan’s most well known broadcasting stations – NHK’s Tokyo headquarters are located only 15 minutes from Harajuku station (by walk).
NHK news are viewed by millions every morning and afternoon – you can visit the building to look at behind-the-scenes works, buy some famous mascots or just have a look around the building.
It is truly an interesting trip and is highly recommendable to go with family – kids love it!
Yoyogi park is one of the biggest parks in Tokyo – I would recommend to spend a day walking around there alone.
It is one of the most visited places for cherry blossom sightings after Ueno – and it doesn’t seize to amaze its visitors.
A lot of people visit in autumn to look at the amazing gingko trees that cover the whole park in their bright yellow leaves. (maple trees in winter/autumn are quite popular as well)
The park itself has a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, differing from the noisy Tokyo surrounding it.
It is definitely a gem to visit – there aren’t a lot of places where you can relax so freely.
Themed shops and cafes
Apart from the expensive brand shops extended along the main street, Harajuku is famous for its themed shops and cafés.
Alice in Wonderland, Pokémon and Snoopy cafés/shops are quite popular among visitors.
For cat lovers, visiting cat cafés is an absolute must to try out (more cafés can be found in Roppongi if interested).
The Pom Pom Purin café aka Cute Cube Café is a must to go for mascot fans! The interior of the place and all the food they offer contains images of Pom Pom Purin – a really cute and adorable place to visit with friends or kids!
Apart from the fore mentioned Meiji Shrine, Togo shrine is another place you might consider visiting if you are a Japanese culture fan!
This Shinto shrine is fairly new and was built in dedication to a Gensui (Admiral). He is physically buried in the shrine and his remains are still there today.
Many flea markets were held in the area of the shrine at the beginning and the end of the month, but unfortunately that got canceled a couple of years ago. Many tourists visited to buy fine silk kimonos or antique objects.
Still, this is an interesting and captivating shrine that you can stop by if you go to Meiju Jingu!
Harajuku station is architecturally designed a bit different from the rest of the Tokyo stations. First opened to passengers in 1906, the station was constructed with a Western-style feel.
You would notice it as soon as you got off the train or happened to walk past it.
The Harujuku Bridge or the JinguBashi, is the place you would want to go if you are a fan of cosplay or Lolita fashion.
During the weekends, especially Sunday, is the time when you would find teenage groups of goth/Lolita/cosplay standing at the bridge socializing.
You are allowed to take photos only if you ask the permission of the person first.
Many people go visit Harajuku just to visit this weekly social ‘event’ and enjoy it.
Are you a Pokémon, Star Wars, Moomin, Peanuts, Disney or Miffy fan?
With a single logo, “for the human smile”, this amazing shop will make you grin as soon as you walk in!
The exclusive 5-story store is an absolute must to visit for crazy fangirls! Different stores on different levels feature the majority of your favorite characters and mascots! Kiddy Land itself is really cute and refreshing, and you wouldn’t have the heart to leave without buying something.
A lot of people come to Harajuku exclusively to visit this unique multi-themed shop. (And of course pop into JinguBashi along the way). The first store dates back to the 1950’s and since then has branched out and became popular within the country. However, the Harajuku Kiddy Land is probably the biggest and the most visited.
Yoyogi National Gymnasium / Tokyo Skyline View
The Yoyogi National Gymnasium was built around the 1960’s for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. It underwent a unique architectural project so be sure to check out the building’s exterior if you have time.
Many interesting exhibitions and concerts are held there to this day. Popular sport events – such as artistic gymnastics are quite frequent, and a huge audience assembles to watch these events.
Why pay 1000 – 2500 yen to go on SkyTree and Tokyo Tower to observe night Tokyo?
Two Rooms (a bar and grill restaurant) offers a spectacular view, and all you need to do is buy a drink or two. Try checking out their lounge for the amazing view of the night city below.
In conclusion, Harajuku has a lot to offer its visitors: if you are a culture fan, an avid photographer or want a calming and relaxing walk in a beautiful park – Harajuku is the place to go.
All within walking distances are interesting shops and cafés you can visit. Even though you can go around the whole city in a day, I would recommend spending a couple of your weekends to visit the place.
Have a nice walk!