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Published: September 14th 2013
Style central in Harajuku and Shibuya
Tokyo is known for setting fashion trends not only in Asia, but the world. No trip to Tokyo is complete without visit to this shopping mecca. Start your trip at Yoyogi park at Harajuku station on the JR line. On Sundays ( weather permitting), you will see a host of cos-play, Rockabilly, Reggae, Hip Hop, Glam, and everything in between fashionistas. Even young kids practicing their dance routines. Across from Yoyogi park there is a flea market on Sundays. You'll have to come early if you want to avoid the line ups. This was a picture on a rainy Sunday morning.
Just behind the stadium is NHK studio park. Visitors can take a look at how tv shows and Japanese animation are made. While there isn't too much information for non-Japanese, for ¥200 you can enjoy a good 1-2 hours here with an English brochure and a little bit of imagination. My husband and I got to simulate what it would be like to be news anchors. It was harder than it looked, but extremely fun. The staff were very friendly and accommodating to us. We really enjoyed it.
From the stadium
take a stroll back to the station to Takeshita street, one of the main entrances into Harajuku. The streets are bustling with vendors vying for your attention to come to one of their shops. Food shops with western, Japanese and pseudo Japanese food all tempt your senses. Make sure to try some Takoyaki (octopus balls) while you're there.
Shopping in Harajuku is not cheap. You will find loads of vintage clothing stores, cos-play/costume shops and shoes mixed in with boutiques such as Vivienne Westwood and Galliano. Music from J-pop to 70's punk all blare throughout the narrow alleyways.
From Harajuku make your way down Meiji Dori down the beautiful tree lined streets towards Shibuya. Unlike the narrow, busy backstreets, this vast street is much more upscale. Expect to find shops like Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Burberry, etc, intermixed with American Apparel, Gap and OiOi department stores. There are many shopping complexes with smaller local boutiques as well. In the summer and early fall you can also find many rooftop beer gardens to take a break from the hustle and bustle.
Tokyo is full of "pop up events". Last time I was in Shibuya I saw Paris Hilton promoting
one of her new products. Take a stroll down the small side streets for hidden gems of food and clothing stores. Like many parts of Asia most of the action happens behind the major streets. Japan is no exception, and it's extremely safe for foreigners and for women.
Tips for travellers:
1) If you want to experience a true local Japanese day out, try Harajuku on a Sunday. Be prepared for thousands of people moving around and slow movement. If you don't like crowds , visit on a weekday. Take the JR to Harajuku station exit Takeshita dori.
2) Try a number of different snacks from local food chains. Gindako is famous for Octopus balls and is a quick way to re-fuel. If you like sweets try one of the many crepe shops. Ramen, udon, tonkatsu and curry are also good bets.
3) Take a wonder down the side streets. Soak up the various styles of Japanese fashion.
4) Plan ahead. With large numbers of people, come long waiting times. Japanese people are very polite and not pushy. If you want to have lunch or even go to the bathroom, don't wait until the last
minute. You will find you are stuck in a line.
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