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Japan Guide: Top Fantastic Things To Do In Harajuku

 

In Tokyo, there exists a strange and unique place that cannot be ignored – Harajuku. Spreading from Harajuku-Omotesando Station to Shibuya, this place is well-known for its diversity, dynamism and vibrant pace of life, where tourists can experience both traditional Japanese culture and the most “crazy” fashion styles. So do you wish to explore Harajuku? Here is our glance at top things to do in Harajuku. In this blog, we will provide some suggestions on what to eat, what to buy and where to visit.

List Of Top Fantastic Things To Do In Harajuku

Famous Streets – Places To Wander

1. Walking Around Takeshita Street

Takeshita Dori, an around- 400- meter narrow street, is the favorite shopping center of Japanese as well as foreign visitors. Come here, visitors have opportunities to admire, experience culture-rich aspects of Japanese youth in Tokyo. Due to its popularity, this street is extremely crowded, especially on the weekends.

This street is lined with big chains such as The Body Shop, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and many impressive fashion stores. This is also the place to choose cheap socks, colorful clothes or funny T-shirts. Besides considered as one of the icons of Harajuku shopping center, Takeshita has been well-known as the birthplace of Harajuku fashion styles since the 1990s.

things to do in Harajuku

 Takeshita Dori – Harajuku crazy main street

However, today’s invasion large chain stores, crepe stalls … to serve tourists in recent years has changed this place slightly. Takeshita and the area around Harajuku have been “tamed” significantly compared to its heyday. However, it is still a fashion cultural center, a popular gathering place for Tokyo teenagers.

2. Explore Omotesando

Exploring Omotesando is one thing to do in Harajuku Referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. Omotesando is a one kilometer long, tree-lined avenue, serving as the main approach to Meiji Shrine. On this avenue, stands along the Omotesando Hills – the largest-scale business and many Japanese, Western, Chinese restaurants together with beauty salons, nail salons, and grocery stores. Today, Omotesando is renowned as the location of many leading fashion brands that attracts thousands of tourists every day. This area generally caters to older and wealthier clients than Takeshita Dori.

things to do in Harajuku

Omotesando – Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees

Shopping – Things To Buy

1. Laforet Harajuku – Go Shopping In A Mecca For “Kawaii”

You are wondering what to do in Harajuku? Come and visit Laforet Harajuku. Located in the heart of Harajuku, Laforet is the trend-oriented shopping complex, consisting of 13 floors of numerous fashion and accessory stores. Exhibitions and multimedia events are also held in Laforet Museum on top of this building.

things to do in Harajuku

 Laforet is located in the heart of Harajuku

2. Daiso Harajuku – Go On A ¥100 Spree

Daiso is 100 yen chains, and the largest branch is located in Takeshita Street. The branch in Harajuku is a three-floor building that offers every household product and souvenir in 100 yen. What a budget-friendly price!

what to do in Harajuku

Everything is priced at 100 yen

3. Oriental Bazaar – Go Shopping In The Heaven Of Souvenirs

This is one of Tokyo’s largest souvenir stores that is very popular to foreigners who want to search for Japanese souvenirs such as kimono, dolls, tableware or samurai-related goods. This shop mimics traditional architecture with a shrine-like exterior. The main color is red and green, very catchy in the eyes of a passer-by. Therefore, visiting Oriental bazaar and buying souvenirs here is nearly a must in the list of what to do in Harajuku.

what to do in Harajuku

Oriental Bazaar sells traditional Japanese products, gadgets and folk crafts

4. Omotesando Hills –  Visit Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees

Opened in 2006, Omotesando Hills consists of about 100 fashion brands for men and women aged 30-40, who have a good taste of fashion and head to modern life in cities. The main building has 6 floors (3 sublevels and 3 floors on the ground) divided into both sides. In the middle is an open air space in the shape of a 700m spiral slope.  This shopping complex stretches along about one-quarter of the avenue.

what to do in Harajuku

The shopping complex is Omotesando’s most prominent establishment

5. Tokyu Plaza – Enjoy Yourself In The Sky Garden

Completed in 2012, Tokyu Plaza is yet another multi-story shopping center in a city full of them. However, the special point that makes it worth-knowing is Omohara no Mori – a lovely sixth-floor rooftop terrace area that looks out over Harajuku. Additionally, the escalator surrounded by mirrors at the entrance is also a famous spot for tourists to take photos.

what to do in Harajuku

Tokyu Plaza has cool architecture

6. Kiddy Land – Explore A Character Menagerie

If you are a fan of cartoon characters, visiting this place must be listed in things to do in Harajuku. Taking the first steps inside this shopping mall, customers will be immediately overwhelmed by the cuteness that can bring everybody back to their childhood. In the five floors of Kiddy Land are fantastic collections of mascots, dolls, cuddly toys, furry toys, action figures, Disney, Kitty, Doraemon, Godzilla and more.

what to do in Harajuku

7. Oedo Kazuko – Get Yourself One-Of-A-Kind Kimono

Tourists who come to Japan have to try kimono at least once. This is nearly an unspoken rule. So if you are struggling over where to buy Kimono, come and check Oedo Kazuko. Located in an unassuming basement along Omotesando, Oedo Kazuko is a kimono heaven where tourists can find kimono of all types ranging in sex, age, colors, patterns (traditional/modern pattern), and fabrics. There’s also a large range of hair accessories displayed throughout the funnily decorated store, so you’ll definitely be able to find something to suit your taste and needs here, with prices varying depending on the quality and formality of the pieces.

what to do in Harajuku

Oedo Kazuko caters all types of kimono

what to do in Harajuku

Hair accessories are displayed in the funnily decorated store

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Destination – Things To Visit

1. Togo Shrine – Take A Stroll Through Senere Ground

Hidden behind the bustling Harajuku, Togo shrine is a peaceful Shinto shrine dedicated to Admiral Togo, who defeated the Russian troop in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Inside this shrine is a smaller temple dedicated to submarine crewmen died in the Pacific War. The Togo Antique Market was held around the shrine on the first Sunday of each month, but it was discontinued in December of 2009.

what to do in Harajuku

Togo shrine is peaceful and hidden behind the busy streets of Harajuku

2. Meiji Shrine – Follow Your Inner Zen

Meiji Jingu (shrine) is one of Japan’s most popular shrines. This shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress.

things to do in Harajuku

Meiji Shrine is the most popular choice for many shrine visitors to pay their New Year’s respects to.

Entry into this shrine is a massive wooden Torii gate, which is 12m high, and 17m wide. After passing this gate, when the noisy sounds of busy streets seem to disappear, tourists can enjoy the fresh air and tranquility of the forest made up of approximately 10000 trees donated from various regions in the countries.

things to do in Harajuku

Meiji Shrine’s Torii gate – the biggest in Japan

If tired of shopping in busy streets, and still weaving on what else to do in Harajuku, tourists can visit Meiji Shrine to take part in typical Shinto activities, such as making offerings at the main hall or buying charms and amulets.

3. Yoyogi Park – Watch The Sky From The Largest View

Located next to Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks of Tokyo with the natural beauty of all four seasons. In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, adding cheer and energy to the atmosphere. In the summer, festivals and fairs held in here adds in the dynamism of the park. Arriving at Yoyogi Park in the autumn, visitors will see the white ginkgo with fresh yellow leaves falling on the ground. In the winter, the park is covered in the white of snow and plum flowers. This park is a very suitable place to watch flowers, have picnics or play musical instruments.

4. Ota Memorial Museum Of Art – Admire Priceless Works From Ukiyo-e Masters

The small and elegant Ota Memorial Museum of Art exhibits selected only ukiyo-e paintings and prints from the vast collection of ukiyo-e artists such as Utamaro Kitagawa, Hokusai Katsushika, and Hiroshige Utagawa. Every month, the museum will exhibit just some of 14000 artworks, so every visit is a different experience. Tourists to this museum can also buy tenugui hand towels with ukiyo-e patterns as souvenirs.

things to do in Harajuku

Each month, 70 pieces from the collection are displayed in a small themed exhibit

5. NHK Studio Park – Get Chance To Perform As An MC

Next to Yoyogi Park is the headquarters of Japanese Broadcasting Corporation – NHK Studio Park. This is a part of the NHK Broadcasting Center that is open to the public. With a little entrance fee, visitors can have a chance to look behind the scenes of NHK. Perhaps, no country else in this world allows viewers to observe how television programs are being recorded and watch the live broadcasts of some TV programs from behind the scenes. On some days, visitors can also have the opportunity to perform as an MC in some programs.

things to do in Harajuku

Visitors participate in a hands-on experience as weather announcers

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Cuisine – Things To Eat

1. Kawaii Monster Cafe – Dine In Proper “Kawaii” Style

The cultural phenomenon “kawaii” Harajuku is booming in many countries in the world. Kawaii monster cafe was also founded by Sebastian Masuda – the pioneer of “kawaii” Harajuku fashion styles. Because “kawaii” means cuteness in Japanese, everything inside this cafe is cute. When walking through the gate, customers will be welcomed by a characteristic mascot and surprised by the wooden horse wheel in the shape of an ice-cream cake. Kawaii monster cafe is divided into 4 areas: Mushroom Disco, Milk Stand, Bar Experiment and Mel-Tea Room with each decorated in different themes to create unique atmosphere.

Furniture is not only the particular point of this coffee shop, food and beverages are also served in “kawaii” style. Tourists can try colorful pasta and cocktail. Food and drinks in this coffee shop are not only cute but also very tasty.

2. Gomaya Kuki – Try Delicious Sesame Ice-cream

Located on Omotesando Street, Gomaya Kuki is a famous takeaway shop, the birthplace of the most amazing sesame ice creams we can enjoy. It will be a glaring omission if your list of things to do in Harajuku doesn’t include trying this special ice-cream.

things to do in Harajuku

6 types of ice-creams in Gomaya Kuki

Gomaya Kuki sells 6 types of ice-cream: 3 in black (Super Rich, Rich and Salt Sesame) and 3 in white (Super Rich, Rich and Grain Mixed White Sesame). The best seller is, of course, black super-rich ice-cream. This type is coined “Super rich” because each cream ball is made with 9000 sesame seeds from the exclusive supplier – Kuki Sangyo.

things to do in Harajuku

Black Super Rich ice-cream served with 9000 sesame seeds

3. Calbee Plus Harajuku – Crunch On Some Freshly Cooked Crisps

Have you heard of Poterico? This packaged potato stick snack may be one of the best snacks in Japan. Do you want some? Let’s come and check it out in one branch of Calbee Plus on Takeshita Street. Besides Poterico, tourists should try another best seller – agetate no potato chips, which are served straight from the fryer, with toppings like cheese, sour cream, maple syrup, butter, soft serve ice-cream, and chocolate. As well as the popular items and flavors, the Harajuku store sells a range of products made freshly on-site and flavors that can’t be found elsewhere.  Sound interesting, right?

Things to do in Harajuku

Snack food maker Calbee serves the freshest potato crisps you’ll ever taste at this Harajuku outpost

5. Marion Crêpes – Satisfy Your Hunger With A Classic

This is Japan’s longest-running crêpe shop and maybe the most famous crêpe shop in Japan with over 80 locations nationwide serving delicious delicacies. Come here, tourists can enjoy the original Japanese-style crêpe filled with yummy ingredients like Chantilly cream, chocolate and ice cream. Japanese youth love to walk around Harajuku with a crepe in hand while shopping.

what to do in Harajuku

Marion Crêpes – the most famous crêpe shop in Japan

6. Dobutsuen – Lick An Adorable Ice-Cream

Harajuku is indeed the cradle of “kawaii style”, as there is another ice-cream shop that is very “kawaii”. It is Dobutsuen. In Japanese, “dobutsuen” means “zoo”. Tourists will be amazed at ice-cream decorated in the shape of many cute animals such as elephants, pigs, koalas, and so on. The ice-creams are in pastel colors, with diverse toppings and flavors. The ice-creams are cute, and the ice cream stand that is disguised as a pink ice cream vending machine is adorable, too. Therefore, don’t forget to snap a photo before it melts.

Is Harajuku worth a visit when you’re in Tokyo, Japan?  If you’ve never been there, we highly recommend you should do it once to witness the colorful fashion style, good food & treats, buying lovely clothing such as Unicorn coat! Now, you have known what to do in Harajuku when you come here to visit. Hopefully, this blog will give you useful information about the place.

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.