Harajuku An Exploration Guide

Harajuku is one of Japan’s most famous areas and is very popular with teens young people and the fashion-conscious. 

“Harajuku” is an area that surrounds Harajuku station in Tokyo. The area has long been known to be the epicenter of youth fashion culture and a hub for those highly interested in fashion.

Crape and ice cream vendor at Harajuku s Takeshita street

On the JR Yamanote loop route that circles central Tokyo, between Shibuya and Shinjuku. Many tourists exit at Harajuku Station to explore prominent attractions such as Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine, and Omotesando, a high-end retail district with unique clothing styles. 

Walking around the area you are very likely to see some shocking clothing styles as well as some fashion choices that you would not see anywhere else in the world.

Recently-built JR Harajuku Station in Tokyo the previous station was recently replaced in 2020

Harajuku Station Location via Google Maps

Harajuku is not only home to youth fashion but there are many other reasons why locals and tourists love this area of Tokyo. There are also many different cafes, famous branded shops, and beautiful streets to stroll down if you happen to be in the area. There is something for everyone in Harajuku.

Harajuku fashion ranges from adorable and relaxed to edgy and aggressive. You could see lovely lolitas in costumes, highly pierced goths with long hair, or decora kei fans sporting multicolored wigs on any given day here. You may even come across cosplayers since Harajuku is known for its free-spirited atmosphere.

 Teens and young adults gather in Harajuku to show off a variety of clothing styles

So, here we will explore all of the different things that you can do in and around Harajuku. Because there are so many different activities it is worthwhile choosing a few key attractions ahead of time so that you can better plan your trip around these.

Famous streets

If you are in Harajuku then you are certainly going to want to take a walk down the two most famous streets. These are Takeshita Dori and Omotesando.

Takeshita Street in the Harajuku area, a famous street where many shops sell extreme fashion

Takeshita Dori

Takeshita Dori is perhaps the more famous of the two thanks to its presence on the internet as the center of fashion. The shops along this street are typically open from 11 am to 8 pm. This street is famously very narrow meaning that it will almost always look incredibly busy. In fact, the street is also only 1300 feet long.

Takeshita Dori

Takeshita Dori Location via Google Maps

The area is very popular with younger crowds and is lined with popular, yet more unusual and unique, clothing shops as well as cafes and fast food stores.

The street is very busy on weekends, so if you are not a fan of large crowds but still want to visit the street, consider planning your visit for a weekday or exploring the side streets which are just as interesting as the main street itself.

Omotesando

If you are looking for a quieter street in Harajuku then look no further than Omotesando. Commonly referred to as Tokyo’s answer to Paris’ Champs-Elysees, this street is slightly longer being about half a mile in length, and is lined with beautiful trees and high-end retailers. 

The Omotesando website lists a myriad of retail shops, eateries, and attractions. Check out the website below for a comprehensive guide to each.

Omotesando Hills Website

Omotesando Shopping District Location Via Google Maps

The street serves as an approach to the famous Meiji Shrine and is a great place to stop off at a cafe or boutique. This area is typically much calmer than Takeshita Dori, being more popular with adults and affluent shoppers.

Attractions

If you are looking for something a little bit more cultural to do around Harajuku then there are plenty of options available to you.

Meiji Shrine

The famous Meiji Shrine is Shinto and was built to honor the memory of Emperor Meiji as well as the memory of his wife, Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji was in power from 1867 to 1912. The original version of the shrine was destroyed in the firebombing of WWII, but the temple has been accurately rebuilt.

The shrine stands in some of the most spectacular parks and natural areas that Tokyo has to offer. It is often used as a place of relaxation and rest by those living in the busy city.

Meiji Shrine Official Website

Meiji Shrine

Nezu museum

If you are an art lover then the Nezu museum should definitely be on your list of things to do. Open every day, except Mondays and holidays, from 10 am to 5 pm, the museum houses a large collection of artwork from East Asia including multiple objects.

There is also a large traditional Japanese garden located next door to the museum so that you can continue to enjoy your day out even once you have taken in everything that the museum has to offer.

Nezu Museum Official Website

Nezu Museum

Yoyogi park

If you are in the mood to go for a stroll and to explore some of the beauty of Japan’s natural scenery then head to Yoyogi Park. This park is one of the most expansive parks in Tokyo and is certainly one of the most beautiful. 

There is something for everyone here as the park has both open grass fields as well as forested areas and even ponds. You can easily spend an entire day here relaxing, walking, and even having a picnic next to one of the ponds. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city then this is the place to come.

Yoyogi Park Official Website

Aerial view of Yoyogi park

National Yoyogi stadium

If you are in the mood for watching a sporting event or performance then check out the list of events at the National Yoyogi Stadium. Originally built for the 1964 Olympics for the swimming competitions this stadium is now home to many different types of events such as ice skating, concerts, and even volleyball competitions. 

Yoyogi Stadium Website Via Go Tokyo

Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo

Togo Shrine

If you are interested in the cultural history of Japan but want to avoid the large crowds that often gather at the Meiji Shrine then consider a visit to the Togo shrine. This shrine was built to honor Admiral Togo who was instrumental in defeating the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war in 1905.

Although there was once was an antique market in the nearby square this was unfortunately ended in 2009.

Togo Shrine Official Website

Togo Shinto shrine in Tokyo

Final Thoughts On Exploring Harajuku

When many people think of Harajuku they often only think of busy shopping streets and many different, alternative fashion choices. However, although there is such as street, Harajuku has so much more to offer.

There is something for everyone including art lovers, those interested in Japanese culture and history, and even those who want to go for a quiet walk in a natural setting.

You will notice a marked difference between the crowds in certain areas and this is just one example of how Harajuku really does appeal to everyone.

Getting To Harajuku Via Japan Rail Pass Article

There are so many different restaurants, cafes, and fast food establishments around that you are sure to be able to find something to eat and drink no matter whether you want to try a local delicacy or opt for something more familiar. 

Virtual Tour Of Harajuku And Omotesando In 4K

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.