15 Things You Must Do in Harajuku
By Skywing Knights // July 27, 2022
Harajuku, Harajuku, Harajuku. Oh Harajuku. Where to begin? You’ve likely heard of Harajuku through songs or perhaps via a grape vine of travelers who have been to Tokyo (東京). Or maybe you’ve heard of the “Harajuku Girls” in a fashion magazine somewhere. But none of that really elaborates on just what Harajuku is, what you can do there or what you should make SURE to do there on your epic trip to Japan.
So, what is Harajuku?
Translated, Harajuku (原宿) literally means “meadow lodging”, butttttt you’re not going to see a meadow when you get off at Harajuku Station or at the other common station, Omotesando (表参道). No, gone are the days when it used to house “ninja” (忍者). And yes, that was a thing. The area used to be the residence of members of the Iga clan (伊賀), who were the ninja that guarded the Edo Castle ( 江戸城), or the Tokyo Castle, of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康) during the Edo Period (江戸時代). (Essentially, they guarded the residence of the ruler of Japan. So not a bad bit of compensation at all. At the very least, a relatively short commute is always a plus). But rather, instead of ninja residences, Harajuku today is the most lively and fashion forward district of Tokyo, and when I say fashion forward, I really mean it.
The History of Harajuku
The trend towards Harajuku being a fashion center is generally agreed to have begun in the 1970’s when stores in the area began catering to youths obsessed with fashion. These stores took after those in the area of Shinjuku (新宿), just north of the Harajuku neighborhood. As the area became a hub for youth, Harajuku became a popular place for teenagers to “street dance” in the 1980’s. As such. flamboyant dance groups known as “Takenoko-zoku” (竹の子族) began to “take the street”. And this was absolutely a departure from the norm in Japan.
For a more clear explanation of why this was (and still is), in Japan, the culture places heavy emphasis on community and societal harmony. In turn, these sorts of things are always at the top of mind for most of the Japanese people. And even if it’s only a subconscious goal, it’s one that greatly impacts the way they interact with one another.
This extends even all the way back to ancient times and has long roots back, in large part due to the limited amount of “livable” land Japan has. In short, people in Japan learned early on in the country’s history that if you’re going to be living in close proximity to others and you’re not going to want to kill them, you better all get along.
The One Versus the Many
For that reason, the Japanese are often extremely considerate of one another for the purpose of maintaining peace and harmony within their communities. However, on the other side of the coin, this way of thinking also, at times, can deprive individual members of society the “culturally appropriate” freedom to express their individuality. In other words, it is better to “fit in” and “be part of a team” instead of being the “oddball” or the “out of place cog” in the machine. As a result, “standing out” is often looked down upon as it is essentially seen as one placing their own needs above that of society’s. And in Japan “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, to borrow a line from Spock.
However, with the new acceptance of the appearance of “outlandish” clothing in various fashion hubs during the 70’s/80’s especially by younger generations, and particularly in Harajuku, these locations became “socially acceptable” places so to speak to “let loose”. After all, if the outlandish brought people into stores and young shoppers would spend more money in the area more because they enjoyed all of the ‘outlandish’ fashion, why wouldn’t the neighborhood embrace it? Thus, in Harajuku, the “bizarre” and “shocking” became “common place”? Yeah, it’s a doozy of a logical weave.
But you know what, just go with it, because the results are something to behold.
Since the 1970’s/80’s, Harajuku has been the host of a variety of fashions. From Speed Tribes known as “Bōsōzoku” (暴走族) or “Lady’s” (レディース ) (think Kyoko Honda’s (本田 今日子) style of biker jacket in “Fruits Basket” (フルーツバスケット)) , to Kogal/Ko-Gyaru (子ギャル) and ganguro (顔黒) fashions; from Kigurumi (着ぐるみ) and Cosplay (コスプレ), to Visual Kei (ヴィジュアル系), Gothic Lolita (ゴシックロリータ / ゴスロリ), and Ama-Loli (甘ロリ) or sweet lolita – All of these styles and so many more have found a home in Harajuku at one time or another.
Thus, because cutting edge fashion in particular attracts the youth and young adults, not only did Harajuku become a fashion epicenter, it also became one of the hottest spots to go to on the weekend with a multitude of outlets, stores, and other things to grab the attention of anyone passing by.
And while Harajuku is a fashion hub and a magnet for large crowds, it has a surprising number of even more “hidden away” places to go to as well. And some of them are packed with a rich amount of history, particularly post the Meiji Restoration. (As if the fashion history wasn’t enough!)
Must Stops in Harajuku
Truly, even if you’re not into fashion, Harajuku is a must for your trip to Tokyo, especially for lovers of Japanese history and culture. As such, it’s no wonder that Harajuku has become a number one spot to visit on lists of revered travelers guides from around the world for places that one “must go to while in Tokyo”. But of course, it’d be nice if they explained more of WHAT TO DO WHILE THERE! But not to worry. That’s where this list comes in. 😉
15 Things You Must Do in Harajuku
1. Go to the Meiji Shrine
Perhaps a bit of a surprise considering its focus on fashion, but Harajuku is also home to the largest Shinto Shrine in all of Tokyo. And here’s a tidbit. The best way to start any day in Harajuku is by going in the morning to that very shrine, the Meiji Jingu (明治神宮) or the Meiji Shinto Shrine. It’s honestly like walking into a Japanese version of NYC’s Central Park. It’s completely quiet and almost otherworldly in how it tricks you into forgetting that you’re in the middle of downtown Tokyo – a total relaxing and rejuvenating way to start off in the morning!
In addition to all the reasons you should visit the Shrine in general, including its size, historical significance, and beauty, you should definitely go in the morning because that’s the shrine’s peak hour of tranquility. There won’t be as many people there and you can walk in silence, enjoying the nature surrounding you. Plus, nothing’s open before 10 in Harajuku for the most part anyway, meaning even less people will be around. So go on in before things open. Trust me, it’s time well spent. To read more on the Meiji Shrine, be sure to check out my recap of why I love going to this beautiful spot in Harajuku.
Meiji Shinto Shrine:
Address (English): 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒151-8557 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町１−1
Website (English): https://www.meijijingu.or.jp/en/
Website (Japanese): https://www.meijijingu.or.jp/
General Shrine Grounds:
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Cost of Admission: Free
Closing Days: None
Hours: 10 AM – 4:30 PM (Entry till 4 PM)
Cost of Admission: 1,000 Yen
Closing Days: Thursdays, The Day after Thursday Holidays
Hours: 9 AM – 4:30 PM (Closes at 4 AM between the months of November and February. Extended hours available during the middle of June)
Cost of Admission: 500 yen
Closing Days: None
2. See the Harajuku Girls
You thought Gwen Stefani made them up, didn’t you? Oh no, they’re real and they are the epitome of Harajuku’s fame. Wearing the latest fashion trends (always), the best days to go see the Harajuku girls will always be on Saturdays and Sundays, though they tend to be more prevalently spotted on Sundays. If you’re coming from the Meiji Shrine in the morning and heading back towards Harajuku Station (原宿駅) , you’ll end up crossing the Jingu Bashi bridge (神宮橋), or “Shrine Bridge”, which is a popular gathering spot for them to gather at. That said, taking pictures of them is…a questionable endeavor.
Some of them specifically go to Harajuku for people to photograph them, but they will want compensation in return. Meanwhile, others are really just there to spend a day out enjoying themselves in their favorite clothes while going shopping, meeting friends etc. And if you’re in the latter camp, imagine how weird it would be for some random foreigner to “sneak a picture” of you while shopping. It’s kind of creepy, right?
So do yourself a favor, if you really want a photo, ALWAYS ask politely and only ask if they appear to not be busy. If they’re doing something, leave them alone. Remember the Golden Rule. They’re not there because the city of Tokyo pays them to be there after all. That said, regardless of if you can get a photo, you’ve got to see them. Their fashions are truly just a fantastic site to see in person.
Jingu Bashi Bridge:
Address (English): 6 Chome Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前６丁目
3. Eggs ‘n Things
Another great way to spend your morning is by going to Eggs and Things, where you can get the fluffiest and highest pancakes you’ve ever had in your life. (And yes, they have other breakfast foods here too, for those of you trying to avoid the carbs, not to worry.). 😉 They have the same name and logo as a chain in Hawaii, which, while both are very good, are also very different. And the thickness of their pancakes is just one of those ways. Definitely worth a stop in here for Breakfast or Lunch, but get there early! There’s nearly ALWAYS a line, no matter the time of day. And let’s be real, you want those fluffy-mc-fluff pancakes in the morning!! 😉
Address (English): 4 Chome-30-2 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前４丁目３０−2
Website (Japanese): https://www.eggsnthingsjapan.com/harajuku
Hours: 8 AM – 10:30 PM
4. Walk down Takeshita Doori (Takeshita Street)
This iconic street of Harajuku is a definite must. It’s been there from the beginning of the fashion revolution and it will be there long after you and I. And with all of the stuff down on this street, well, you won’t know where to start. After you cross back towards Harajuku station from the Meiji Shrine, turn to your left and walk down to the far north exit of the JR Harajuku station. There you’ll find the Takeshita Doori (竹下通り) archway and the beginning of a long street closed off to cars for foot traffic only. From there, the adventure begins as you wander down Takeshita Doori, and sometimes venture out to the offshoots of the famous avenue. You’ll find all of the most eclectic fashion stores, delicious snacks, and Japanese pop-culture outlets here. So definitely don’t miss this!
(Info for the Family Mart near the main entrance:)
Address (English): 1 Chome-19-11 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１９−11
Website Map for the Family Mart (Japanese): https://as.chizumaru.com/famima/detailmap?account=famima&bid=23084
Takeshita Doori Shop Hours: Varies, but typically stores are open between 11 AM to 8 PM.
5. Go into the giant Daiso
Where to even begin with Daiso? Daiso (ダイソー) is a chain “Hyaku en shop” (ひゃく百円ショップ) or a 100 Yen Shop, sometimes known as a Hyakkin (百均) that is spread across all of Japan. That said, I can hear you asking already, “What’s so great about a Japanese dollar store?” The answer? EVERYTHING. Especially this one, which is 4 stories tall!
To be honest, when I lived in Japan, I could find practically anything I needed on a day to day basis in my local hyaku en shop and this one is no different. Notebooks for work? Got it. Towels for drying dishes? Got it. Cute bento boxes? Got it. And all for 108 yen! (The extra 8 yen is tax.) And like I said, this Daiso goes a step beyond that.
The first floor is filled with all kinds of snacks as well as Japanese Omiyage (お土産), or souvenirs, and there’s even more available as you explore the other levels. So if you need gifts for friends back home but you’re not swimming in the green, you can find things for your friends here easily. Plus, it won’t cost you a fortune and frankly, they’re some really fun gifts here! Oftentimes, you can’t even tell if items are from a “dollar shop”.
Daiso and other hyaku en shops make sure to keep their shops clean and full of anything you might need in your day to day life. So be sure to check this one out. (And that goes double for you cosplayers! If you really explore this store, you’ll find supplies for all sorts of projects available here for your next cosplay!)
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−19−24 ビレッジ107 ２階
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１９−24 ビレッジ107 ２階
Website (Japanese): https://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/shop/detail/7157
Hours: 9:30 AM – 9 PM
6. Eat Crepes!
I can’t go to Harajuku without eating a crepe. Just ugh, they are so freakin’ good. There are several crepe shops along Takeshita Doori, each with about 50-75 options and then some. Hey, even fashionable people get hungry! And depending on the time of year, you might find some seasonal specials! With a mix of sweet and savory flavors available, you’ll be able to find anything to suit your taste any day of the week. But as a suggestion, go with the sweet crepes as a dessert after hitting up a restaurant. Nothing beats cheesecake, ice cream, strawberries, bananas, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. And yes, they can fit all that in there. And yes, I had to run a mile after eating it. But dang it, it was worth it!!
As a tip, eating on the go isn’t a thing in Japan, so make sure you stay by the shop to eat it! After all, it’s going to be the one place you’ll find a trash can for your napkins anyway (since most of Japan is devoid of public trash cans), so best to stay put while you eat! Here are just a few of the best crepe shops in the area, with a shout out to my personal favorites:
Down Takeshita Doori
Sweet Box (One of the busiest and for good reason!)
Address (English): 1 Chome-17-5 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１７−5
Website (Japanese): https://www.crepes.jp/
Hours: 11AM – 8:30PM
Marion Crepes (My personal go to)
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−6−15 ジュネスビル 1F
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目６−15 ジュネスビル 1F
Website (Japanese): http://www.marion.co.jp/%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A7%E3%83%83%E3%83%97%E3%82%A8%E3%83%AA%E3%82%A2%E9%96%A2%E6%9D%B1/
Hours: 10:30 AM – 8 PM Monday-Friday, 10 AM – 8 PM Saturday-Sunday
Angel Crepes (エンジェルクレープ)
Address (English): 1 Chome-16-9 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１６−9
Hours: 11-8 PM
CAFE CREPE CLUB
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−8−3, Ishikawa, 1F
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目８−3, Ishikawa, 1F
Hours: 12 Noon – 8 PM Monday-Friday, 11 AM – 8 PM Saturday-Sunday
Just outside of Takeshita Doori
Santa Monica Crepes
Address (English): 1 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目８−5
Website (Japanese): http://www.cafe-crepe.co.jp/
Cafe Crêpe Laforet Harajuku
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−11−6 ラフォーレ原宿 一階
Address (Japanese):〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１１−6 ラフォーレ原宿 一階
Website (Japanese): https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1306/A130601/13043876/dtlmenu/photo/
Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
7. Try on some of Japan’s hottest fashions
If you don’t try something on, then why did you bother going to Harajuku? I kid, but Harajuku is and remains the most fashion forward center of Tokyo, with the stores to prove it. The one difficult thing many from out of the country face here is finding a size that will fit. But I promise there are things available, you just have to dig sometimes or aim for things like loose tops, skirts, or baggy pants. Even if you don’t buy anything, just trying on something can be fun. Follow instructions when it comes to trying things on and you’ll have an overall good experience. (Some stores are particular with their dressing rooms.)
With everything from cute to elegant, professional to casual, and then goth to hipster in between, you’re definitely going to be able to find something to catch your eye. Besides, you might as well try on what makes the Harajuku girls so famous after all – their fashion! And maybe you’ll even find something to buy for yourself! (My personal favorites are all the fun socks! XD)
Address: None really; just have at the whole area!
8. Do some Purikura!
Purikura? What’s that? Purikura (プリクラ), short for “Print Club” (a trademark of Atlus/Sega who created the first machines in the mid 1990’s), are essentially photo booths, similar to the ones you might see in an arcade, a mall, or on a boardwalk. The difference here though is that while you still get into a booth and pose for a camera, once you get out, you get to edit your photos to the nth degree.
Each machine these days is prone to doing different things, but common capabilities include drawing on the images, adding stickers, and editing the appearance of one’s face to have smoother skin and larger eyes. As a result, most of these machines are designed to allow users to have fun while creating super stylized and ‘kawaii’ (cute) photos of themselves, though some are also huge hits for those looking to create glamor shots.
Additionally, a number of them have a time limit! So you have to work fast! Whether this kind of photo booth sounds like your thing or not though, you’ve got to try it at least once to see the results and how insane you can make them. By the end, you might not even recognize yourself. 😉
The Big One: Purikura – Noa (プリクラランドNOA)
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, 渋谷区Jingumae, 1 Chome−17-5
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目17-5
Hours: 8 AM – 11 PM
Website (Japanese): http://www.printclub.jp/
9. Anime Pop Up Stores
While you’ll certainly find anime merchandise floating around in the area, there are nearly always whisperings of secret anime “pop up” stores appearing in Harajuku. These pop ups are typically dedicated to promoting goods for specific, current, popular shows airing new seasons of anime (アニメ). They tend to spring up without much of any warning and leave much the same way.
However, if you’re looking for one in particular that you know is supposed to be in Harajuku somewhere, your first best bet is going to be to hit up the UT building on one of the back roads off of Takeshita Doori. While it’s not guaranteed to be there, many anime pop-up stores, such as the Fruits Basket, Haikyu!! (ハイキュー!!), and the Uta No Prince Sama (うたの☆プリンスさまっ♪) stores, have been hosted here in the past.
Tip! As of writing this article, the Uta no Prince Sama Shining Store is currently running at this location until September 25th, 2022.
The building commonly is a site for pop-up anime stores as well as ‘concept’ stores, such as specialty stores like the Alice in Wonderland pop-up store, often catering to a more female-based audience. A good indicator that you’re on the right track will be banners hanging from street lights in Takeshita Doori for the show too. So check it out to see if it’s hosting a pop up for a show you’re particularly obsessed with at the moment. You’ll be glad you did. 😉
Address (English): 1 Chome-8-23 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目８−23
Website: (Changes with each event)
10. Check out the LINE Friends Flagship Store
The LINE store? What’s that and why should you be interested? Glad you asked. Created in the wake of the tsunami and earthquake of 2011 hit Japan, the app LINE was designed to be a new way to communicate that didn’t rely on text message services connected to one’s phone plan.
The app proved insanely popular and grew to become a social network allowing for phone calls, game play, a payment method, a ride-hailing service and more. And a key aspect of the app lies in the unique stickers available for use while sending messages.
These stickers, initially with LINE’s own specially designed characters, became the face of LINE. Cute, adorable, and somewhat mischievous, the LINE characters gained their own following. The result was a demand for merchandise and well, this store is all about catering to that demand.
Even if you’re not into the app itself, it’s still worth checking out as the store highlights one of the unique aspects of Japanese Modern culture – how mascots are just a must for businesses these days. And hey, if they’re kind of adorable too, what does it hurt? 😉
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 4 Chome−31−12 1F~3F 原宿ゼロゲート
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前４丁目３１−12 1F~3F 原宿ゼロゲート
Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
Website (Japanese): https://www.linefriends.jp/others/store
11. Shop in Laforet Harajuku
After going through Takeshita Doori and eating all the delicious crepes, the next stop for all fashionistas out there has got to be Laforet (ラフォーレ). The building, originally built in 1978 by Mori Building (森ビル株式会社), got its name based off of the French translation of the word “Mori”, which was “la forêt”. (In English, the Japanese word Mori “森” means “Forest”).
While the building’s footprint may not seem that large, it makes up for it with seven floors of boutiques (and a museum) catering to the most wild and eccentric fashion that Harajuku has to offer. A number of the boutiques’ are also stores of famous, high end brands of famous fashion-forward designers. Some of the stores inside include the following, sorted by styles:
(Every Day Feminine)
- Majestic Legon
- Vivienne Westwood RED LABEL
- Ray Cassin
(Lolita and Gothic)
- axes femme
- Angelic Pretty
- ALICE and the PIRATES
- Akiba Kanden Denki
At the top of Laforet’s 150+ stores is the Laforet Museum, where you can find various exhibits catering to fashion trends. Anything in the stores here will likely cost you a pretty penny, but it’s absolutely worth the visit just to see all of the ingenuity in the world of fashion and style.
Address (English): 1 Chome-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１１−6
Main Building Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
Website (English): https://www.laforet.ne.jp/en/
Website (Japanese): https://www.laforet.ne.jp/
12. Ride up and through Tokyu Plaza’s Mirror Entrance
Across the street from Laforet you’ll find Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (東急プラザ 表参道原宿), another shopping complex (not much of a surprise by this point for you probably). But what is a surprise is the super cool escalator entrance which features mirrors at every angle creating a kaleidoscope-like shatter effect for those going inside.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been inside the building, and its shops are fine and there’s a little plaza up near the top. All of that is fine. The rest of the building isn’t going to make or break your trip (maybe your wallet if you like to shop, but really, all of Harajuku will do that). But this escalator, designed by Hiroshi Nakamura, is just so trippy and cool. I love riding it in, even if I have no need to and then I’ll come right back out.
So ride it. It’s a short, but fun little ride.
Address (English): 4 Chome-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前４丁目３０−3
Main Building Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
Website (English): https://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/en/
Website (Japanese): https://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/
13. Go to Kiddy Land キデイランド
Millenials in particular will love this one. Think of a toy store that embodies all of the things of your childhood and that’s this store. But cooler. No, cooler still. With everything from Dragonball Z figures, Jiji dolls from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Disney Character Merchandise, and Rilakkuma merch, Kiddy Land will bring out the child in everyone, adults and kids alike.
This brightly colored, multi-story store, with a history dating all the way back to the early 1960’s will surprise and delight on every level. So remember to bring your souvenir savings. Your inner child will regret not bringing it if you do.
Address (English): 6 Chome-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前６丁目１−9
Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
Website (Japanese): https://www.kiddyland.co.jp/harajuku/
14. Buy Omiyage at the Oriental Bazaar
Another store with a history dating back to the 1960’s, this shop, one of the largest “omiyage” (お土産) or souvenir shops in Tokyo houses some of the best items you can get during your trip to bring home and display. Originally built to appeal to US Soldiers as well as guests of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, while you can find souvenirs at other places in Japan, such as Nakamise Doori (仲見世通り) in Asakusa (浅草), what makes this store stand out is its variety, as well as it’s specialty items, which are truly authentic pieces of Japanese history.
For instance, on the basement floor, you can typically find knick knacks, toys and T-shirts – the typical tourist-y items. Whereas on the main level you might find more higher end items, such as handmade coin purses and special sets of chopsticks. But on the top floor? You’ll find authentic kimono, old furniture, art, and even items once owned by real Samurai (if you’re lucky).
Even if you only can afford items on the basement level, it’s worth just going to see the upper floor and stand in awe of these ancient pieces of history.
Address (English): 5 Chome-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前５丁目９−13
Note: Will be reopening sometime in 2022
Website (Japanese): http://www.orientalbazaar.co.jp/
15. Visit Omotesando Hills
The main road in Harajuku is one known as “Omotesando,” and it’s the one you’ll be walking down on your way to Kiddy Land, Oriental Bazaar, and many other shops. While Takeshita Doori is where you’re going to see the “most extreme” fashions, Omotesando is nothing to scoff at either when it comes to fashion.
While often a bit on the more high-end side of things, the road is filled with stores every bit as fashion forward in their own right. And at the center of it all is Omotesando Hills, a shopping mall/duplex filled with over 130 shops, restaurants, and more, laid out across 6 floors of shopping space, including two wings. And if ‘extreme’ fashion isn’t your thing, you might find what Omotesando Hills offers to be more your speed. Definitely with fashion-forward pieces, but ones easier to fit into everyday ensembles.
As such, this massive shopping center is a must hit up for shop-a-holics. Not to mention, on particularly hot or cold days, it’s a great place to run inside to escape the elements. Check it out if you’re up for a stroll through some of Harajuku’s best clothing stores to make the everyday outfit a fashion statement.
Address (English): 4 Chome-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前４丁目１２−10
Main Building Hours: 11 AM – 9 PM
Website (English): https://www.omotesandohills.com/en/
Website (Japanese): http://www.omotesandohills.com/
BONUS! Harajuku Activities no longer in Harajuku (and where they are now):
Three bonus pieces of information here for those of you who may have heard of these two things you can do in Harajuku, but haven’t figured out how to take part in them or where to go. Well, the reason you’ve likely been having trouble is because they’ve moved (or closed). With Harajuku being an extremely expensive area to operate in, sometimes businesses choose to move when they can find places with just as much foot traffic but at a better operating cost and maybe even more space. That said, here’s where to find these Harajuku Activities and sites that are no longer in Harajuku:
1. The Kawaii Monster Cafe
Sadly, this amazing restaurant was one of the places to close due to COVID-19. I went to this place back when it was in Harajuku and I must say, I’m so sad that it’s no longer in there. It did have a brief pop-up stand in Osaka (大阪) though in 2021. For that reason, while it doesn’t seem like it’s coming back to Harajuku anytime soon, fans haven’t counted it down and out for good and it may one day be back when the pandemic passes in Japan. As for me, wherever it ends up, I’m totally in for following it to its new location.
Old Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 4 Chome−31−10 YMスクエア 4F
Old Address (Japanese): 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前４丁目３１−10 YMスクエア 4F
Prior Website (Japanese): http://kawaiimonster.jp/
(Read my full review of the old Harajuku Kawaii Monster Cafe location and my experiences there on my older blog, Beautiful Japan.)
2. The Johnny’s shop
Tucked off on one of the backroads of Takeshita Doori, there was one shop that ALWAYS had a line that took at least an hour to get through. And what was that shop? The Johnny’s Shop (ジャニーズショップ). The shop, run by Johnny & Associates (Johnny’s for short), specialized in selling merchandise for bands signed under the Johnny’s brand – and that’s a BIG brand in Japan. Perhaps the most famous band under the brand is Arashi, but other popular bands include Hey! Say! JUMP and TOKIO.
With the brand keeping a tight seel on all of the merchandise and music of their bands, the Johnny’s shop was a must stop for fans of the music groups. So with business always booming, what happened?
Nothing really – they just moved to a different location with a bit of a larger, more diverse set of foot traffic. Now, the store is located closer to the Shibuya Station (渋谷駅), just one stop down from the Harajuku Station on the Yamanote line (山手線). The easiest way to get there is by taking the Hachiko (ハチ公) exit from the Shibuya station and to start heading towards Tower Records (タワーレコード) from the Shibuya crosswalk scramble (渋谷スクランブル交差点).
The store is located in the basement level of the Shibuya Seibu, so you don’t even have to go as far as Tower Records. If you don’t want to take the train, you could technically walk from Harajuku, but it may take a bit – about 15-20 minutes at a good pace. Still, if you’re a fan of any of the Johnny’s bands, you can’t miss it. So don’t let the fact that it moved from Harajuku stop you from going!
Address (English): 21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-8330, Japan
Address (Japanese): 〒150-8330 東京都渋谷区宇田川町２１−1
Store Website (Japanese): https://www.johnnys-shop.jp/
Hours: 10 AM – 9 PM
A local dive favorite, Shakey’s (シェーキーズ ) is a chain of pizza stores with a buffet style of serving meals. The difference from most places though is that Shakey’s tends to have some very unusual toppings for those used to the classics. Banana and chocolate syrup anyone?
While unusual, it’s a fun place to go and they used to have a location in Harajuku that got a good amount of foot traffic. However, the branch in Harajuku sadly closed. But not to worry if trying usual pizza sounds like your kind of adventure. Tokyo has 5 locations still located in Shinjuku (新宿), Shibuya (渋谷), Higashi or East Ikebukuro (東池袋), and Kichijoji (吉祥寺).
Address (English): Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−30−１１ 第2, Takano Bldg., Ｂ1Ｆ
Address (Japanese):〒160-0022 東京都新宿区新宿３丁目３０−１１ 第2, Takano Bldg., Ｂ1Ｆ
Address (English): Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 32−15 ヒューリック渋谷センター街2F
Address (Japanese):〒150-0042 東京都渋谷区宇田川町３２−15 ヒューリック渋谷センター街2F
Address (English): Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−11−4 大和ビル Ｂ1Ｆ
Address (Japanese):〒170-0013 東京都豊島区東池袋１丁目１１−4 大和ビル Ｂ1Ｆ
Address (English): Japan, 〒180-0004 Tokyo, Musashino, Kichijoji Honcho, 1 Chome−15−2 ダイヤバローレビル B1F
Address (Japanese):〒180-0004 東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺本町１丁目１５−2 ダイヤバローレビル B1F
Chain Website (Mostly Japanese): https://shakeys.jp/
And there you have it, 15 things you have to do while in Harajuku! (And just a bit of info regarding where some things that were once there ended up on top of it all!). Not to mention, getting to Harajuku is a cinch too, with several stations and train lines to get you there:
- Yamanote Line, JR
Meiji Jingumae (Harajuku) Station (明治神宮前駅)
- Chiyoda Line, Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ千代田線)
- Fukutoshin Line, Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ副都心線)
- Chiyoda Line, Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ千代田線)
- Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ銀座線)
- Hanzomon Line, Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ半蔵門線)
- Romancecar, Odakyu Railway (ロマンスカー)
Train line companies:
- JR East: https://www.jreast.co.jp/ (Japanese), https://www.jreast.co.jp/multi/en/ (English)
- Tokyo Metro (東京メトロ) : https://www.tokyometro.jp/index.html (Japanese),
- https://www.tokyometro.jp/lang_en/index.html (English)
- Odakyu Railway (小田急) : https://www.odakyu.jp/ (Japanese)
- https://www.odakyu.jp/english/ (English)
And with that, I know you’ll make it to Harajuku to enjoy this incredible fashion hub and neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo! Also, whatever your adventures, be sure to tag me in your posts if this guide was of help to you. Wishing you a fantastic and fashionable adventure!