50 things to do in Harajuku
It's the neighbourhood that gave us Lolita girls, decora and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Harajuku has been the epicentre of Tokyo teen fashion for decades, and it's still nurturing unorthodox, garish styles even as big-name international retailers like H&M, Forever21 and American Eagle Outfitters muscle in on the area. Join us on a trip around Harajuku's best restaurants, cafés, gift shops and fashion boutiques – lots of fashion boutiques. And while you're in the 'hood, keep your eyes peeled for the print edition of 50 things to do in Harajuku, which comes with a pocket-friendly, AR-enhanced map of the area.
1. Go shopping in a mecca for ‘kawaii’
Over 100 boutiques jostle for attention in the multi-storey Laforet mall, which has been the ground zero of Harajuku fashion – and a bastion of Lolita-style cutesiness – for over 30 years.
Laforet Harajuku. 1-11-6 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
2. Sample some unorthodox sushi
You might have to elbow some tourists out of the way to get a seat at this popular conveyor belt sushi joint, where the prices are cheap and the selections far from purist. 'Avocado double shrimp', anyone?
Heiroku Zushi. 5-8-5 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
3. Explore a character menagerie
Snoopy and Hello Kitty are just two of the 80-odd children's characters you'll find on sale at Harajuku's most venerable toyshop, a five-floor emporium that first opened way back in 1950.
Kiddy Land. 6-1-9 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
4. Get into the latest trends – feet first
Who'd have thought a shop selling nothing but legwear could be so much fun? Then again, Avantgarde does offer some tantalising tights, including some oh-so-cute Disney collabs.
Avantgarde. B1F, 3-22-7 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
5. Sink your teeth into something juicy
Singaporean-style chicken and rice is the speciality at this compact eatery, where the birds are cooked whole to make the flesh mouth-wateringly succulent.
Mr. Chicken. 1-15-4 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
6. Kit yourself out for the great outdoors
Harajuku isn't just about fashion, you know. This outdoor goods shop directly opposite the station should have all the clobber you need for your next hike, rock climb or camping trip.
ICI Ishii Sports Harajuku. 1-14-29 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
7. Snap up some century-old spectacles
If you're looking for an alternative to the latest eyewear trends, you can find something more distinctive at Solakzade, a boutique offering vintage glasses from as far back as the 1800s.
Solakzade. B1F, 4-29-4 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
8. Buy your own Chairman Mao
Leopard-print crockery, Chairman Mao memorabilia – there's no telling exactly what you might find in this cluttered backstreet bazaar, where the unique atmosphere is a draw in itself.
Bunkaya Zakkaten. 3-28-9 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
9. Pig out on pancakes
Already an institution in the seaside town of Zushi, pancake supremos Sunday Jam recently unveiled a new shop in Harajuku – and unlike the original branch, this one's open all week.
Sunday Jam Harajuku. 2F, 4-28-27 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
10. Take the limelight in a theatre of fashion
All the world's a stage for Theatre Products, a thespian-inspired fashion brand whose clothes use innovative textiles and soft, feminine colours – a break from Harajuku's more garish offerings.
Theatre Products Omotesando. 4-26-24 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
11. Have a scribble with your coffee
Go for the coffee, stay for the pens. Pay a ¥700 membership fee at Bunbougu and you'll get a master key to the table drawers, containing stationery that you can use for free.
Bunbougu Cafe. B1F, 4-8-1 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
12. Take a history lesson in Harajuku style
When gaudily dressed dance groups known as takenoko-zoku flocked to Harajuku in the mid-'70s and early-'80s, they bought their clothes at Boutique Takenoko. It's still there today, but stocks mainly Lolita and punk fashions now.
Boutique Takenoko. 1-6-15 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
13. Get a taste of Nice in Tokyo
At his first Tokyo restaurant, Michelin-starred chef Keisuke Matsushima recreates the flavours of his original eatery in Nice using locally sourced ingredients.
Restaurant-I. 1-4-20 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
14. Pick up a few cutesy curios
Overseen by fashion snapper Yasumasa Yonehara, Harajuku's very own souvenir shop is the go-to place for all your kawaii needs, from cute phone covers to clothes and accessories.
Moshi Moshi Kawaii Harajuku. 2F, 1-16-11 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
15. Dig some stylish designs
If you're looking for an unusual gift or just some fancy knickknacks for your apartment, you can always find something tempting at this Tokyo outpost of NYC's Museum of Modern Art.
MoMA Design Store. 3F Gyre, 5-10-1 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
16. Go on a ¥100 shopping spree
From household products to cheap souvenirs, it's amazing what you can stumble across at this three-floor ¥100 shop, a low-cost landmark on the bustiling Takeshita-dori.
Daiso Harajuku. 1-19-24 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
17. Relish some liquid refreshment
Get a healthy fast food fix at this drink stand, serving up raw sweets and a range of revitalising smoothies – including daily specials – made from green vegetables and fruit.
Green Smoothie Stand. 6-5-6 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
18. Indulge in some gyoza
There are just two styles of gyoza dumplings available at this no-frills eatery – fried or steamed – and they're as tasty as they are affordable (just ¥290 for six).
Harajuku Gyoza Lou. 6-2-4 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
19. Open up to some cutting-edge culture
Want to keep abreast of the latest cultural currents in Tokyo? Start at Vacant, a popular spot that serves as concert venue, art gallery, theatre, cinema and just about everything else.
Vacant. 3-20-13 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
20. Pick up some Gaga-grade garb
Basement boutique Dog has wooed some unusual customers with its blend of outlandish vintage and reworked clothing – not least Lady Gaga, who's visited incognito in the past.
Dog. B1F, 3-23-3 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
21. Go Eva-mad in Harajuku
The official shop for anime franchise Evangelion has something for all your mecha needs, from clothing to cakes, plus a few limited edition items that are sure to make your otaku pals jealous.
Evangelion Store Tokyo-01. 1-8-23 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
22. Embrace the Lolita look
Harajuku's famous Lolita fashions started life in shops like Milk, which has been in business for over 40 years now – and barely changed its style during that time. For frilly dresses and accessories, look no further.
Milk. 6-29-3 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
23. Keep it shockingly kawaii
Even in the middle of Harajuku, this lurid pink boutique stands out. 6% Dokidoki sells 'shockingly cute' original accessories and clothing in some truly eye-popping colours.
6% Dokidoki. 4-28-16 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
24. Hunt for rare designer clothes
A secondhand shop for brand-name clothing, Ragtag offers three floors' worth of used designer goods and furniture – perfect if you're hoping to stumble across a rare item.
Ragtag Harajuku. 6-14-2 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
25. Check out one of Kyary's favourites
Harajuku style icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a fan of this vintage clothing shop, where the selection is organised according to style, from kitsch to classic.
G2?. 2F, 3-22-7 Jingumae. Map and opening hours
50 things to do in Harajuku