As an area, Harajuku is famous for its ‘anything goes’ attitude – the crazy and wonderful outfits of the fashionistas strutting their stuff on Jingu Bashi, the rockabilly dancers giving it everything in Yoyogi Park – whatever your style, you can wear it with pride here. But what happens if you turn up in Japan with a wardrobe woefully inadequately equipped for joining in with all this gentle madness? Never fear, Takeshita Street, stretching 250 meters from in front of Harajuku Station to Meiji Dori (on the other side of which it becomes Harajuku Street) will come to your rescue every time.
According to the map that you can pick up for free by the gates at the Harajuku Station end, Takeshita Street is home to well over 100 shops selling clothing or shoes of one variety or another. There are also two shops that sell only socks – I had no idea so many socks were to be found in the world! The clothes shops cater for pretty much every taste you can imagine – visual kei, various branches of Lolita fashion, decora, clubwear, sequinned MC Hammer pants, gothic dog collars and chains, 1950s tailored dresses, superhero underwear and way, way more. You can also buy all the accessories you might need in order to further jazz up your outfit. My favourite place to browse is a particularly fantastic costume shop in which every outfit seems to be completely covered in sequins. Sadly they don’t allow photos and I just couldn’t justify the expense of buying anything to photograph it at home!
Don’t worry if all this shopping (real or window) makes you hungry – in addition to the clothes and shoe emporia there are also nearly forty cafés and restaurants tucked in among the shops. These mainly sell sweet things with a lot of cream and bright-coloured sauce, but you can also get your hands on curry, Chinese food, yakitori and a decent cup of coffee if you look hard enough.
Takeshita Street is great fun if you’re up for getting involved with the bustling crowds. It can get ridiculously busy at weekends and on public holidays so don’t expect to use it as a shortcut! Rather, slow down, have a stroll and keep your eyes open and you’ll see some of the seriously out there fashion for which Japan is so famous.