Sunday, February 3, 2008

Harajuku

The streets of Harajuku are bustling on a Sunday afternoon. Whether it may be summer or winter, you'll always find something interesting to do while you are in Tokyo's fashion capital.
 
You can get to Harajuku by Metro or by the Yamanote JR line, one of the many train lines in Tokyo. I usually take the JR, and when you exit you can be greeted by two famous sights. Takeshita-dori (street) and the Snoopy Shop.
 
The Snoopy shop is a great place to pick up souvenirs or if you love snoopy, you can buy any kind of snoopy item you want. Lunch boxes, t-shirts, school gear, even bottles of water.
 
Takeshite-dori is the place to go for hand made original clothing; various styles are available from Lolita, Gothic-Lolita, punk rock, and more. Lolita is a style that was created from the Rococo period (the 18th era in France.) Elegant and what you may thing ‘Old fashioned’. It was also influenced by Victorian children’s clothing.  It has now evolved into different sub styles and now has it’s own subculture in Japan. The Lolita look consists mainly of headdress, knee socks, knee length skirt or dress, and high heal/platform shoes. Since the style was influenced by the Victorian children clothing, you may often seen girls with teddy bears, or other items that would emphasize their childlike look.
 
Prices will range depending on where you shop. You are able to find many places with used clothing, and other decently priced shops. If you are interested in the more authentic clothing be prepared to lighten your wallet.
 
For food, don't miss the opportunity to stop and purchase a crepe from one of the many crepes stores located in Harajuku. Not one for sweet, they even offer sandwich styles.
 
If it's still not your thing, there are plenty of restaurants to stop at and take a rest from your shopping, or just to get away from the suffocating crowd. For some reason, you can find many Italian restaurants on Takeshi-dori and the only a few Japanese restaurants. Those not to your liking? Walk further down to the end of the street and you will find yourself on Meiji-dori that offers many Japanese restaurants. They have many Izakaya restaurants that offer various, cheap Japanese food. Izakaya is a popular place for of age young adults to older businessmen to go and drink and eat. Drinks and food are anywhere from 100yen to 500yen.
 
If these choices don't work for you, there is always the MacDonalds, Wendys or Lotteria (Japanese version of MacDonalds) to stop and grab a bite.
 
Or are you the type of person who enjoys shopping in the name brand store? If you walk up the Omotesando Street you will find yourself in the post area of Omotesando, it is only a 10-minute walk away. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada. You can find it all. Windows decorated with black diamond mannequins, river of water running along the front of the shopping center, it all creates a scene of serenity, and wealth.
 
Also on Omotesando street you will always see a line of people (usually girls) standing around waiting in line. The line is for the official Johnny's store.  Johnny's is a entertainment company that has the most popular boy bands in Japan. They guys are famous. You can often see them in commercials, TV drama's, movies... The store sells fan items such as photos, and you have to arrive early if you want to get a ticket to get into the store. I tried once on a weekend, and arrived at 12 to find out tickets went on sale at 7am and were finished by 10:20. People start lining up at 5 in the morning to get a ticket.
 
The last or the first thing you must see, something you mustn't miss, if the –bridge. A one-minute walk from the station, just walk up the street and you'll know when you reach it. Cosplayers and musicians, artists and performers are lined up on the bridge. Here you can buy an original piece of art, listen to a live band or even get a free hug.
 
But mostly it is just dressed up teenagers, (and adults) as their favorite artists, anime characters (anime is animation/cartoons), or their own unique design.
 
Don't be afraid to ask for their picture, they usually love getting their picture taken.



 







 
 
 

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