Harajuku - An Introduction

A brief introduction to Harajuku, Japan’s center of youth culture and street fashion.

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Harajuku has become world famous as Japan’s center of street fashion. This square mile area is jam-packed with boutiques, fashion malls and chains. Every single day of the year, tens of thousands of people come here to shop, hang out, and see what the latest trends are.

100331-9152: Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, Tokyo
Takeshita Dori—always crowded

The area was originally a small village inhabited by low level samurai. Harajuku’s start as a center of fashion and youth culture came after WWII. US Army barracks, called Washington Heights, were built here. Shops that catered to the military families followed. This attracted young people curious about Western culture.

In 1964, the Olympic Games came to Tokyo. Washington Heights became the Olympic Village housing the athletes. People from all over Japan came to Harajuku for a chance to meet the athletes. The crowds of young people persuaded young creators to set up shop here.

100331-9233: Alien in Harajuku, Tokyo
Harajuku is about fun

In 1978, the Laforet fashion mall was opened. It quickly became Harajuku’s main attraction. Harajuku had now become THE place for fashion businesses to be. It changed from being a place, into being a concept. Harajuku stood for energy, change, newness.

100331-9139: Harajuku, Tokyo
Models promoting a shop

Trends come and go at lightning speed in Harajuku. Decora, Goth-Loli, Cyber-Punk, Mori Girl, the list is endless. Many happen at the same time, and influence each other. Often it’s impossible to determine what gave birth to what. This disconnect and freedom is possible because there is no social message. Harajuku fashion is about fun. It is fashion in its purest form.

100331-9189: Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, Tokyo
The entrance to Takeshita Dori

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Great video. I must visit Harajuku as soon as I come to Japan! I think I’ll go crazy with my camera xD and my wallet will probably be empty when I leave the place! It must be wonderful for you to be able to walk those streets with so many fashionable people every day - I envy you!

Mar 7, 2011 (4649 days ago)

@Keekii: Yes, it is great fun!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 8, 2011 (4649 days ago)

I swear, I am dropping by someday to stock up on shoes alone.

Sep 30, 2014 (3346 days ago)

@HaasiD: Excellent idea. Make sure to visit Tokyo Bopper!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Oct 1, 2014 (3345 days ago)

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