Tokyo’s Harajuku district is known the world over for the youthful crowds that gather there to flaunt their wild fashions. This is where you can spot local teens dressed up in colorful and outlandish punk, goth, and anime costumes. But there’s even more to Harajuku than over-the-top street style.
Harajuku’s top sights include Yoyogi Park and Omotesando and Takeshita-dori shopping streets. These areas, where the colorfully presented youth typically hang out, are the best for people-watching and street photography. Also in Harajuku is the Meiji Shrine (Meiji-jingu), Tokyo’s grandest Shinto shrine, which was constructed in 1920. The atmospheric shrine is surrounded by forest and serene gardens and houses a memorial hall dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the man many credit with the modernization of Japan.
Sightseeing tours of Tokyo typically include a stop in Harajuku. If you want something more specialized, your options include walking tours of the area that focus on street fashion, architecture, and even kawaii food, or food with kawaii (cute) presentation—perfect for social media.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Harajuku is a must-visit for a taste of Japanese youth culture.
- The area is home to a rainbow of shopping opportunities, as well as many bars and restaurants.
- Cat Street offers a more sophisticated shopping alternative to Takeshita-dori, and its Tadao Ando–designed Armani Casa building is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts.
- The sprawling Laforet department store is a good option for getting all of your shopping done under one roof.
How to Get There
Harajuku is in the southwest of Tokyo, in Shibuya ward. It is served by Meiji-Jingumae metro station on the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines, as well as Harajuku station on the JR Yamanote line. Takeshita-dori is in the northern part of Harajuku, and Omotesando is in southern Harajuku.
When to Get There
Harajuku hums with energy seven days a week, but for the best people-watching get there on a Sunday afternoon, when youngsters gather in and around Yoyogi Park to pose in their outlandish outfits. Yoyogi Park is particularly attractive in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom.
Outlandishly dressed youngsters flock to Harajuku to be seen. Typically, they will happily pose for photos without expecting payment, but it is always polite to ask first if it is OK to take their photo by saying “Shashin totte mo ii desu ka?”