Ever watched a fashion show on TV and wondered whoâ€™d wear such outlandish outfits in real life? It turns out that the clothes modeled in fashion shows are just meant to be inspirations for that fashion designerâ€™s seasonal line. Only parts of each design will show up in various skirts, blouses, suits, and accessories. After all, not only does a pompadour-and-motorcycle bustier get-up look uncomfortable, but the stares from across the street would make the wearer feel self-conscious.
And then thereâ€™s Harajuku.
Harajuku, which in Japanese means â€œmeadow lodgingâ€, is a district in Tokyo located between Shibuya and Shinjuku, and is Japanâ€™s focal pointÂ of urban youth fashion. Not only do stores catering to punk, goth, and Hello! Kitty clothing styles exist side by side of each other, but dwellers in the narrow back streets of this area create their own wild and highly original fashion sense to express themselves.
The two main shopping streets here are Omote-Sando and Takeshita Streets. Omote-Sando serves the upscale garments market, with multi-story boutiques dedicated to single brands. The passers-by here all strike up the global image of Japanese fashion: good-looking young men and women with carefully-coordinated clothes, coiffure, and footwear.
Takeshita Street, on the other hand, is the main back street which branches off to several narrower streets, all filled with specialty clothing stores, dining establishments, and pathways to residences. The back streets (urahara) are filled with groups of visually diverse fashionistas, all flocking together in sartorial harmony.
Some of the fashion styles found here are as follows:
Punk â€“ inspired by the non-conformist lifestyle movement in 70â€™s Britain, punk fashion champions over-the-top clothing, accessories, and hair styles to express varying degrees of rebelliousness. British iconography such as the London Metro and the Union Jack are reflected in the store designs.
Gothic Lolita â€“ the black version of 19th century Victorian fashion. Curled-up hair, ruffles, lace, and stockings all give the effect of a living Victorian doll.
Cosplay â€“ visual elements of stylish anime and video game characters, from ninja headbands to leather overcoats, are emphasized here.
Wamono â€“ the mixing of traditional Japanese attire with Western fashion.
Harajuku Bridge, near the Harajuku Station, becomes the street side catwalk of choice every Sunday. Girls and boys wheel their color-coordinated luggage and congregate here to form a whirlwind of personal style and cutting-edge aesthetics.
The best way to get to Harajuku is to get off at Harajuku Station along the Yamanote line. The station is located next to both the entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine and Omote-Sando. You can also stay in any of this nearby hotels: Urabandai Nekoma Hotel Fukushima, Hotel Monterey Akasaka Tokyo or Hotel Asia Center Of Japan Tokyo. Donâ€™t make the mistake of looking for Harajuku Street (there isnâ€™t any), especially when looking for Harajuku Bridge; you will see it near the tree-lined park. A great day to visit Harajuku is on November 3, when the nation celebrates Culture Day. Walking to nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine across Harajuku Bridge will let you see families dressed in traditional kimonos as they head to the shrine for blessings and festivities.