Area: Harajuku, Cat street & Ura-harajuku

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Harajuku 原宿 (a meadow to dwell)

Place for the youthful Japan pop subculture, famous for cosplay, street fashionist and schoolgirl taste knick-knacks.

Harajuku sta.

Meiji-jingu bashi aka. the cosplay bridge

The pavement patterned of Meiji-jingu bashi seems to be the official cosplay photos background, the bridge was so popular for youngsters to cosplay on Sunday morning, 90's to 00's. Nowadays the scene somehow got a little toned down you don't see them that much as back then. If you're here for the cosplay, sorry, you're 10 years too late. It's more like tourists cosplay bridge now.

If you visit this area on Sunday morning make sure also continue to Yoyogi park, to see more scenes happens there. There's rockabilly dance community and various other creative & interesting act.

Laforet is one of my must-visit list! This is where most of the gothic & lolita costume shops lined-up. Prices are high, surely. All those shops located on the basement. Basement 1 and 1.5. They got Algonquins, Gouk, Atelier-Pierrot, Angelic Pretty, h.NAOTO, Putumayo, Hellcatpunks, and the CD store Like an Edison. All the brands I could  only seen on the internet when was young. Too bad Sexpot Revenge, Sexy Dynamite London and Takuya Angel shops in Harajuku are closed forever. D:

Closet child catalogue.

This mall consists of 6 stories plus 3 basement level. to see the floor guide, click here.

The promised land..

..vs the older version I have always known. (how could they replace that legendary green gate!)

Ah, Takeshita-dori, still hold the reputation as the quirky-pop-subculture-shopping-street strong as ever. Isn't the old Takeshita holds more indie label than now? Did it evolved? Did some ambitious large-scale commercial projects are superseding the old mom n pop shops? I don't know, but they're not fully erasing traces of the old order.. Afterall I only know Takeshita from net articles.

Marion crepes, official snack for Harajuku-denizen

Marion crepe start their business as a food truck, before you were born.

Yellow house. Surprisingly intense.

Seriously, I didn't expect anything when go downstairs if not because they playing a song familiar to me (see the boombox on the floor, covered with plastic). Once you reach the basement an old, saucy lady will jump outta nowhere. This energetic lady (she's on her 60s??) "charmingly" told me the story about this shop she runs for almost 30 years, the whole shop sells nothing but original clothes used by many Japanese rock bands. Well, this is already the shrine for visual-kei movement even before the terms J-rock or visual-kei were invented.

I don't have the balls to take picture inside, so I googled and found this. The Yellow House lady is on the middle. Source

The shop itself is no bigger than your dorm room, but don't let that duped you, this lady is the costume designer for visual-kei stars, X-japan, Hyde, Dir en grey, Mucc, Miyavi, Raphael, oh she's a close friend to the artists too. Wall's fully plastered with her photograph posing with various bands, also autographs, and backstage passes. I asked who's her name but she refused and tell me to use only the shop name, Yellow House.

I don't get it why such legendary shop didn't get into the limelight (rather than major punk label such as h.Naoto) then I found this awesome fanboy writing. And how he finds Harajuku is real fucked up nowadays--you could buy a pair of crocs, while the Yellow House Lady called Tusk (of Zi:Kill) to get him a ticket for the band gig that day. Prices there are kind of moderate to high, a Yukke (of Mucc) cardingan is 10,000 JPY, and that Hyde's wire necklace could reach tens of thousand JPY, but like the Lady said, "This is Japan! Not China!"

Some of that classic Takeshita shops


Or Urahara is the area after the end of Takeshita-dori, backalley of Harajuku. From Takeshita, once you cross Meiji-dori, you're now at Urahara. This area got more indie shopping and various product than Takeshita. I didn't have time to go here, which is twice as sad. This is area guide. And here's a nice walk-in area video.

Cat alley

A hip slope connecting Shibuya and Harajuku, aside from Meiji-dori. Both Meiji-dori track and Cat alley track are filled with unique shops. Cat alley got more "local" feeling to it since it's basically a back-alley. Locals call this street by a fancy name, Kyu Shibuya-gawa Promenade.

To start exploring cat alley, go to the alley beside Kiddy Land in Omote-sando if you follow the street with shops for approx 1 km, you'll eventually end up at Shibuya station, and vice versa.

Stores lining up for pedestarian, giving some European atmosphere.

Stroll, stroll..

A store tout blowing up bubbles to attract customers.

Lots of random street running across.. Take your time to explore!

Ura-harajuku and Cat alley is famous for its hipster fashion, cafes & venues. If you love this alley, you'll love Shimokitazawa too. Shimokita (aside from Daikanyama and Koenji) is where the Tokyo hipster goes.

Granny chic style shops everywhere on Cat alley

Many of those little shops are hiding..

When you see this sign, you are already on Shibuya.

Unlike most places in Japan, Harajuku and Shibuya are never too sterile for mural.

If you're bored with Takeshita already, then this is your place to be!

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