Urahara is an area located just after Takeshita Street. If you start from the station, just walk straight down Takeshita Street until you reach the next big street. Once you cross the street, you are in Urahara. This area is well known for its hip hop fashion. Here, you will find brands such as “A Bathing Ape”, “Stussy”, “Alife”, and so on. You can find all of the cool and unique sneakers here as well. For hip hop enthusiasts, you can spend several days exploring all of the streets, and still not finish finding everything you wanted. For those who aren’t into hip hop fashion, it’s still a very interesting area to visit. You can see various shops with interesting names, and many of the hip hop shops are extremely stylized. The area isn’t as built up as other areas of Tokyo, so it feels more open. Being lost in this area will also give you a chance to see some of Tokyo’s own graffiti culture. You may even find some of the craziest buildings in Tokyo.
If hip hop and teen fashion isn’t something you wear, you can always head down Omotesando Road. To find this road, head to the Meiji Jingu exit, and instead of going over the bridge to the shrine, head left and down the hill. This street contains a lot of mid level fashion brands such as Zara and the Gap. Once you are near the bottom of the hill, at the first main intersection after the station, you will be at La Foret. This is a small department store that caters to women’s fashion. It’s a popular meeting and resting point for people. You can easily see people of all fashions waiting outside. If you head north, you’ll be greeted by long lines of Japanese people waiting to enter H&M and Forever 21. These two new shops are located next door to each other and are part of the “fast fashion” boom that started in 2008. Heading a little farther east, instead, you will be greeted by Kiddy Land, a large toy shop that has almost everything you could ever want, and Oriental Bazaar, which sells “Japanese” goods. It’s a tourist’s heaven.
If you walk a few buildings east of Kiddy Land, you’ll reach Omotesando. Omotesando is an area that is located next to Harajuku, but for all intents and purposes, can easily be the same area. This area is almost exactly the same as Ginza. Here, you’ll find all of the expensive name brand shops. Omotesando Hills is the anchor to this district. Here, you’ll be able to walk in a nice air conditioned mall that spirals from the top floor to the basement. If you don’t have a big wallet, it isn’t necessary to visit this place. However, sometimes they have art exhibits, and the building itself was designed by the famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando.
Harajuku is a wonderful place to spend at least a day. If you love the fashion, even three days may not be enough. There are so many small streets for shopping that you may never be able to cover everything. As with any other area of Tokyo, it is changing constantly. If you visit Harajuku one year, it will definitely be different the next year. How different and if your favourite shop is still there, that’s something I could never answer. The only down side is that you should visit soon if you want to see the goth lolitas of Japan, or else they may not be there next year.
This is Part II of a II part series. To read more about Harajuku, please head over to Part I.