On a typical Tuesday afternoon, Tokyo’s Harajuku neighbourhood looks much like the rest of the city with vertical neon signs, narrow laneways with busy restaurants, and young students walking hand in hand wearing matching school uniforms.
But the more you walk around this fascinating part of town, the more you notice something peculiar. Beauty shops filled with wigs, cartoonish dresses and contact lenses in a full rainbow of colours line the entire street. It is in this part of the city where you find that quirky, quintessential Tokyo youth culture renowned worldwide. This is where Tokyo goes to let its hair down.
Harajuku girls are what usually come to mind when thinking of Japanese youth culture, and here that culture is alive and well. Typically teeming with students during after-school hours and on weekends, you’ll always find a colourful character dressed up as their favourite anime character, or wearing vintage biker clothing from the 1970s complete with slicked-back hair. It’s really anyone’s guess what will be spotted on any particular day at any particular hour here, and that’s exactly what makes this street so exciting.
Many costumes are actually handmade by their owners, who take great pride in trimming, adjusting and upgrading their outfits over time, much like a gearhead working on a vintage hobby car in his garage. It is in that constant process of improvement that generates a competitive environment among regular Harajuku goers showing off their latest upgrades in the hopes of impressing their friends and peers. This is a serious investment of both time and money.
That being said – Harajuku is not just about fashion or cosplay. The tour guides in Nezasa’s Japan itineraries will often take guests into one of the quaint cafes or restaurants that line the street. With plastic food on display in the window, you won’t have any trouble deciding what to order and, for dessert, our guides will always recommend one of Tokyo’s most famous treats: a Harajuku crepe.
Harajuku crepes are wrapped in a quintessentially French crepe in a filling that you choose from a huge list, ranging from ice cream and fruit to a slice of cheesecake. It’s Paris meets New York right in the middle of Tokyo and our guests often rave that they wish they could get this unique dessert back home.
After exploring the vast kaleidoscope that is Harajuku, Nezasa’s local guides will take you around the city while enjoying the Exploring Tokyo Tour found in Nezasa’s Cultural Highlights & Mt. Fuji program. Just like the patchwork that makes up the Harajuku costumes, Tokyo itself is a large, ever-growing and ever-changing patchwork of contrasting neighbourhoods, stitched together into one astonishing and sometimes overwhelming city that has something for everyone.