A visit to Tokyo for me would not be complete without pursuing the following itinery. Because we tend to be based in Asakusa we take the Ginza line all the way to the other end alighting at Shibuya Station.
We take a quick look at the Hachiko statue. Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog. He was owned by a Professor Ueno who worked at Tokyo University. Every day Hachiko walked to the railway station with his master as he set off to work. Then he sat and waited for him to return to walk him home. When Professor Ueno died unexpectedly, Hachiko continued to wait for him every day for the next 9 years. (This story was recently Americanized and turned into a movie starring Richard Gere). The statue is now a popular meeting point for young people in Shibuya.
As well as taking a look at Hachiko, while visiting Shibuya it is worth having a look at Love Hotel Hill. Go to the crossroads past the Hachiko staue and wander off up the hill to your left. This area is filled with love hotels, which rent rooms by the hour to amorous couples. The interesting thing is that many of the buildings are built in colourful and over-the-top ways, for example, with bright purple and pink outer walls, or made to look like mediaeval castles etc.
Shibuya is a shopping area and while I'm not big on shopping, I do love to have a wander round the Tokyu Hands Department Store. This sells everything weird and wonderful including clocks that tick backwards. On my last visit I was fascinated by some little models of a rock group which play instruments and dance to whatever music is played to them. I could have watched them for hours but would have needed to take out a mortgage to buy them.
From Shibuya we then take a stroll up to Yoyogi Park. It's much quicker to reach Yoyogi Park from Harajuku Station if you want to go direct. Yoyogi Park was once the site of the American base and was nicknamed Washington Heights at that time. After the Americans left, it became the site of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Then it became a park. At one time it was a popular venue for youth sub-cultures such as the dancing teddyboys, but the police began to move them on, so there are no longer as many.
I strongly recommend a visit to this park at the weekend, especially a Sunday, when the park is filled with people out for a stroll, or picnicing under the trees, or sword fencing, or practising other sports. Not to mention, a group of friends that meet up there to provide impromptu drumming concerts and throngs of youngsters who set up mics and electric guitars and perform near the park's main entrance.
This park is also filled with stunningly beautiful cherry blossom in spring.
Between the entrance to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku Station there is a little bridge which on Sundays becomes a popular spot for Cos-play. Cos play is some weird Japanese thing which results in young Japanese school girls dressing up bizarrely as anything from French maids to Pokemon characters and posing for photos with passers-by. Fascinating, but strange.
Richt next door to this is the Meiji Shrine which could not be more different. It is a beautiful Shinto shrine set in acres of green woodland( it also has a famous iris garden). At weekends it is a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings or child blessings. Certain numbers are considered unlucky in Japan. A child going through an unlucky number year must be blessed by a Shinto priest to cancel the bad luck.
A wonderful place to take photographs of people in traditional clothes and watch traditional ceremonies.
I only saw these types of food stands in Takeshita Street of Harajuku.
They were very small shops with a picture glass stand of the types of crepes to choose from....it was such a hard decision! The stands would be full of young people standing around eating the rather large crepes!
My crepe was banana, chocolate syrup and cream! The cream was to die for!
Harajuku is all about the young culture and the crepe shops certainly reflected that!
After walking the streets of crazy and funky Shinjuku...you will find yourself at Omotesando Hills. It is considered as the Champs Elysees of Japan... Unfortunately, I did not get to take pictures of some of the buildings.... they were absolutely fabulous... Prada, Dior, Tods, Audi... of cos' the stuff inside these buildings were great too! ;)
This shopping street, Takeshita street is fill with a lot of people from around the world. And near the Harajuku station, on the Sunday afternoon, the cosplay-teenagers will gather here. You can ask them for take a photo.
An event not to be missed. Every Sunday in Harajuku you will find teens dressed in one-of-a-kind costumes happy to entertain. I assure you, your jaw will drop to the ground. These kids are easily approachable and most know english pretty well. Things don't get started until early afternoon so I recommend checking out the nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine in Yoyogi Park and having brunch before setting out to see the teens.
Just before the entrance to Yoyogi Park, you can see people dressed in outrageous clothing and hairstyles. There were performances by wannabe pop star, 1950s dancing and even a transvetite all dressed up like a doll.
Harajuku's Takeshita-dori is a remarkable place to witness the weird and wonderful sights of Tokyo youth culture. Wander down this bustling shopping street, a short walk from the Harjuku JR station and you'll see a plethora of memorable sights. The shops may not cater to your taste and your ears will be assaulted by trashy youth music designed to attract the passersby, but it is an experience worth having.
Takeshita Dori (“dori” means street) is a narrow street in the district of Tokyo known as Harajuku. This district is known as a focal point for some of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, and Takeshita Dori is the epitome of Harajuku. Its narrow pedestrians-only (thankfully!) length is lined with uber-trendy clothes shops interspersed with the kind of refreshment stops likely to appeal to its mainly teenage market. This is a great place to come, and in particular on a Sunday, if you want to see Tokyo’s youth at play.
The most eccentric and colourful fashions will be those of the so-called “cosplay” aficionados, cosplay being short for costume play, in which fans of animė, manga etc dress in the costumes of favourite characters. While this started as a practice for fan conventions and similar gatherings, today it has extended into life on the streets and the range of costumes widened. There are even (though we didn’t see any) cosplay restaurants where the waitresses are dressed as video game or anime characters, or maid restaurants where they dress as maids. As well as these costumes you’re likely to see Goth, punk and many other styles – often several combined in the one outfit! And the shop windows of course display fashions in the same vein. I wasn’t surprised to read later that Lady Gaga apparently shops in at least one of these!
Our group had split up at this point, with not everyone wanting to brave the crowds here, but Chris and I squeezed ourselves into the crush of people walking along Takeshita Dori and wove our way between them. The shops here are mainly independent ones, clearly targeted at the young people who flock here to shop for cute accessories and the latest fashions, but there are one or two chains among them, including 7-Eleven and McDonalds for refreshment breaks. We wanted something more Japanese than the latter so, despite feeling a little out of place in this crowd, decided on lunch at the Caffe Solare which had both Western and Japanese light meals (I had a great toasted sandwich with avocado and cheese – so not so Japanese after all maybe!) We managed to get a table by an upstairs window which gave us a great vantage point from which to watch the passing crowds.
After lunch we walked a little further down the street and grabbed some more photos. But unless you’re a youthful shopper you will probably not want to spend a long time here, though it’s certainly worth a look, especially if you’re in the area to visit nearby Yoyogi Park and the Meiji shrine .
More than any other city, Tokyo blurs the line between culture and consumerism. Many of the city`s retailers are sightseeing attractions in themselves,and windowshopping and people-watching are Tokyo activities par excellence. For both, Harajuku is the place to go.
See: Yoyogi Park with its wildly dressed teenagers. (seperate entry).
Togo Shrine and the teen shopping mecca of Takeshita Dori : (separate entry for Togo shrine)
LaForet : On one of the city`s busiest intersections, this shopping Mecca boasts five floors of stylishly designed, garishly colored, and outrageously clothed immaculate cool. The prices are high, but the people-watching is free. If you`re in town during a sale you`re in for utter madness- rummaging through designer bins, shopclerks dressed as dayglo rabbits beating gongs to attract customers, schoolgirls squabbling over belts and shoes...
The top floor houses a contemporary art gallery and behind the centre is a ukiyo-e (traditional Japanese print) museum .
Continue down Omotesando to Toysworld - see what little character or trinket has caught the city`s imagination that particular month.
Oriental Bazaar is a garish faux-pagoda selling kitschy Orientalia to tourists from Kansas.
On the right, hyper-fashionable Cat Street slopes away towards Shibuya and the odd "dragon museum" (see separate entry).
Back on Omotesando you`ll reach the world`s biggest Loius Vuitton store ((famously, women queued here for two days when it first opened). Dont be surprised to see sightseers taking pictures of themselves with their new hangbags outside!
Keep going, across Aoyama-dori and you`ll hit Comme de Garcon (a swirling high-concept gallery-space of hideous,expensive clothes), Issey Miyake (changing rooms are replica "iron maidens", nailstudded coffins used as medieval torture devices) and then the breathtaking ten storey Parada building - walled entirely in glass and shaped like a crystal. Its architecturally stunning and houses the Prada fashion boutique, a gallery, and expansive views.
Extending away from the Takeshita Exit of JR Harajuku Stn, Takeshita Dori has served for years as the focus of Tokyo youth fashion and continues to attract vast numbers of shoppers with its novelties and long-established reputation. A treasure trove of unique-to-Tokyo fashions and variety goods.
Harajuku, an area that boasts some of Tokyo's most attractive landmarks including Yoyogi Olympic Stadium, Meiji Shrine, and the Omotesando avenue.
Both sides of the main road leading from Omotesando Subway Station are lined with colorful boutiques,cafes,restaurants,and oter stylish shops. On Sundays a whole range of bands, dance troupes and people dressed up in all sorts of costumes to make performances along the street.
Beyond Omotesando, Aoyama is the very image of elegance and fashion. Along Aoyama-dori are many luxury restaurants and high quality retailers.
Harajuku is the place in Tokyo to watch people - Japanese teens and youths dressed in the latest punk Japanese fashion. There is lots of eye candy here - both the boys and the girls. Stroll down Takeshita Street and you will be able to pick up the latest Japanese punk fashion - that is if your vital statistics are petite enough to fit into Japanese sizes and if you have a reasonably deep wallet.
If you are looking for a cozy place to shop, this is the one. It locates at omotensado dori. After scrolling Takeshita Street, you can walk to here. There are lots of renowed apparel shops neary this building.
People often called Omote Sando the Champs Elysees of Tokyo. It is an area where you should take a stroll when you are in Tokyo.
Omote Sando is considered to be one of the top three most popular areas in Tokyo. Tthe streets of Omotesando and Aoyama with their fashionable shops, lovely open-terrace cafes and hip beauty salons are as full of creative vigor and energy as ever. Strolling along the main streets, you will have the chance to take in all the splendor of this fabulous shopping district, yet veering off to a back alley, you will encounter the surprisingly familiar daily activities of local residents
There are many sidewalk cafe where you can sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee while you are people watching. This is a place you must go when you visit Tokyo.
If you're in Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, you MUST go visit Harajuku... You will see nothing else like it!
First, check out Meji Shrine. If you're lucky, you'll be able to see a Japanese wedding like we did!
Then walk back towards the station. Teenagers like to dress up in their "Sunday best" and hang out near Yoyogi Park. Ask nicely and more than likely, they will do a cool pose for you ("Sumimasen, shashin?"). Then head east towards the shopping district (Takeshita and Omotesando) and just stroll amongst the crowd.