Harajuku has been known within Japan and internationally as a huge hub of fashion and popular culture. With an abundance of activities to do, unique boutiques and shops to explore, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here is a compiled list of Harajuku Do’s and Don’ts in order to truly make the most of your time there.
Shortened from the word “Print Club” in Japanese, Purikura are Japanese sticker photo booths that allow you to take photos against a green screen with friends and then decorate them after with cute stickers and backgrounds. They often make your eyes big and sparkly and really give you a “kawaii” look. Once you’re done decorating, you can print out multiple sticker copies of the photos to keep. It’s such a fun experience to try, and “Purikura Land Noa” is a great place to do it as the first store in Japan to be dedicated entirely to Purikura.
Purikura Land Noa
1-17-5 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo B1F
Opening Hours: 8:00-23:30
Harajuku is known for their special crepes that are much different than typical French fare. These crepes are filled to the brim with fruit, ice cream, chocolate, whip cream, cake and other treats that make them stand up straight like an ice cream cone. There are so many crepe shops scattered throughout Harajuku that one shouldn’t be hard to find. All of the crepe places have plastic displays of their food and crepe flavors up, making it easy for you to choose. Not only are there sweet dessert options, but savory as well filled with tuna, pork cutlets or curry that can be eaten for lunch or dinner. (Unless, of course, you want a dessert crepe for lunch or dinner)
1 Chome-16-8 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
1-6-15 Jingumae, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0001
1 Chome-20-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Visit Animal Cafes
If you thought only cat cafes existed, think again! Harajuku is home to numerous animal cafes from rabbits, hedgehogs to even owls. It’s not uncommon to spot shop owners enticing you with random animals in hand, but be sure to be kind and careful when handling animals. Make sure to do your research and make sure you visit a place that creates a healthy environment for both animals and guests alike. Finally, don’t expect to be able to walking to instant cuddles since the cafes often have long waiting lines. Save yourself some time by making a reservation before you head out!
Owl Cafe & Bar Owl Village
〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, １丁目２１−１５ 4F 原宿ATMビル
Ra.a.g.f Rabbit Café
〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 神宮前６丁目１４−１５
Go Vintage/Secondhand Shopping
It would be wrong to visit Harajuku without visiting at least one of the abundance of vintage and secondhand shops. Many vintage shops in Harajuku are perfectly curated to a specific audience and aesthetic. They have something for everyone, from Ragtag for secondhand designer goods, Pin Nap for trendy colorful looks, WC for dreamy pastel vibes, Faith Tokyo for edgy getups, Chicago for vintage American, Dog for flamboyant and outrageous looks, and Kinji for overall cheap prices– and that’s just beginning. There are so many to find while walking on the side streets of Cat Street and Ura-Harajuku, so go out and explore!
3 Chome-26-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Hours: 12:00 am – 8:00 pm
1 Chome-19-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Hours: 10:30 am – 8:30 pm
201, 4 Chome-31-16 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Hours: 12:00 am – 8:00 pm
〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 神宮前４−２６−２６
Hours: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 3 Chome−23−3 トリニティービル
Hours: 12:00 am – 8:00 pm
Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 4 Chome−31−10 YMスクウェア原宿 B1F
Experience Dressing up as a Lolita
Ever wanted to try dressing up in Lolita Fashion but didn’t want to splurge on the garments? Now you can! On the bottom floor of department store LaForet, you can visit “Maison de Julietta,” a shop that allows you to dress up in Lolita clothes, get your hair and makeup done, and have a photoshoot in your new look. For those who don’t know what Lolita fashion is, it is a Harajuku subculture thats been around since the early 90s. In it, people dress up in styles inspired by Baroque and Rococo styled dresses- think a cuter version of Marie Antionette’s style. Since then, numerous subgenres have popped up in addition to the ‘sweet’ look, from gothic to punk to classic styles. Even men can dress up in Lolita fashion in cool aristocrat getups as opposed to puffy dresses and petticoats.
Maison de Julietta
1 Chome-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001 (Bottom floor of ‘LaForet Harajuku’)
Hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Check out Shrines
Everyone knows about the famous Meiji shrine in Harajuku, but there’s also Togo Shrine– a small hidden temple hidden behind the very busy Takeshita street. It is a welcome spot of peace and quiet in the area, and even has a lake with colorful koi carp and terrapins. Togo shrine was built in 1940 and dedicated to admiral Togo Heihachiro shortly after his death. He was considered by many to be Japan’s greatest admiral and the father of the modern Japanese navy. It is much smaller than the huge Meiji shrine that is nearby, but still very charming and a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of jam-packed Takeshita street. Once there, you can purchase an “ema” (a small wooden plaque) and writing down your wishes and prayers to then be hung up and offered to the shinto gods.
1 Chome-5-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Go on a Weekday for Less Crowds
Do get there early and expect crowds– especially on Sundays! It’s still busy, albeit much less so, on weekdays so definitely try and get there then. All old guidebooks state that Sunday is the day all the “Harajuku kids” come out and meet up together in cool fashions, but that does not really occur anymore. You aren’t more likely to see someone dressed up in a certain subculture on any specific day, so you might as well come out when it’s less busy on a weekday.
Don’t just explore Takeshita street
When people think of Harajuku, they mainly just think of Takeshita street- the main street littered with colorful shops that you enter right outside the train station. Oftentimes, people will be disappointed thinking that Takeshita street is all there is before leaving. But Harajuku has so much more than just that one street! When you get to the end of Takeshita, don’t stop. Check out Ura-Harajuku and Cat street as well as numerous side streets and allies for more authentic Harajuku shops, cafes, galleries and quieter crowds with less tourists.
Don’t photograph people without permission
People that dress up in Harajuku subculture fashion go to Harajuku as a chance to express themselves and experiment in a place that they deem as a safe space. They don’t want to be gawked at or treated like animals at a zoo with unwanted photos that infiltrate their privacy. If you want to take a picture of someone, please ask them if it’s OK first. Better yet, take the chance to strike up some interesting conversation about where they bought/made their outfits, and where you plan to head to next. Instead of just a random photo, you may get some great insight into cool places or spots in the area as well as make a new friend!
Don’t take photos in a shop if you are not going to buy anything
This one is pretty self explanatory, if you aren’t going to buy something it’s rude to take pictures of the interior. These are actual businesses, not just tourist attractions. One of the big problems in Harajuku is that tourists are coming into the areas taking photos but not actually buying anything in these speciality shops. With more tourism, rent prices go up and put a huge financial pressure on the shops that aren’t selling as often. Thus, if you really are interested enough to photograph it, you should purchase something as well to help keep the shop afloat.
Don’t expect to see tons of crazy fashions
Tourists guides to Harajuku make it seem like the place is filled with hundreds of kids dressed up in crazy colorful fashions and outrageous looks. But this sadly is not the case anymore. The prevalent styles and subcultures in Harajuku have changed from what they were in the 90’s and early 2000s when this was the case. The current styles are a lot more toned down. If you go you may spot a few people dressed up in these styles, but don’t expect too much that is necessarily flashy or flamboyant.
Don’t eat/drink on the go
When you get your crepe or any other street food, eat it near the booth. It’s considered rude to eat or drink on the go in Japan. There are a few reasons for this, firstly that there is an increased likelihood of making a mess. Japan very much values cleanliness and keeping their streets trash free. (Which is also one of the reasons why you probably won’t be able to find any trashcans around, people carry it themselves and throw it away when they arrive home). In addition, when someone is eating it’s possible to lose awareness of one’s surroundings which shows lack of consideration for others.
Don’t walk on the wrong side of the road
In Harajuku people going in each direction tend to stick to one side of the road to make things move easier! Definitely try and follow the lead of what others around you are doing to make getting by quicker and to not get stuck in a sea of people going the wrong direction.