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50 things to do in Harajuku

Where to shop, eat and drink in Tokyo’s ‘kawaii’ capital

Unmissable things to do in Harajuku: an explosion of kawaii at 6% Dokidoki

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, Forever 21 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 if these 50 things to do in Harajuku aren't enough for you, make sure to check out our guides to the area's best vintage stores, Tokyo's best pancakes and the city's very best shops.

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

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Harajuku
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

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Omotesando
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
7

Snap up some century-old spectacles

f 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

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Harajuku
8

Buy your own Chairman Mao

[CLOSED] 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

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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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. Keisuke Matsushima

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Harajuku
14

Pick up a few cutesy curios

[CLOSED] 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

15

Dig some stylish designs

Recommended

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

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Omotesando
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
21

Go Eva-mad in Harajuku

[MOVED TO IKEBUKURO] 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

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Ikebukuro
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
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

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Harajuku
26

Stuff your face with takoyaki

If you need some sustenance during a hard day of shopping, head to this popular shop on Cat Street for one of the staples of Japanese street food: takoyaki octopus balls. Daihachi Takohanamaru

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Harajuku
27

Go all-out girly

Other shops may have a bigger selection, but few can trump Girly Rose in terms of quality: all of the oh-so-feminine clothes on display here have been imported by the owner herself. Girly Rose

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Harajuku
28

Munch on fresh veggies… and pastries

Don't be fooled by the utilitarian exterior: this is one of Harajuku's best cafés, with freshly baked pastries, farm-to-table vegetables, ample seating and an outdoor patio where you can bring your pet pooch. Eco Farm Cafe 632

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Harajuku
29

Give yourself a Goth-Loli makeover

One of the prime purveyors of Gothic and Punk Lolita fashions, Putumayo even opened a shop in Shanghai recently – though its main branch in Laforet Harajuku is still the place to head. Putumayo

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Harajuku
30

Sink a few microbrews

It may be just around the corner from Takeshita-dori, but the teen fashion crowd feels a long way away at this intimate craft beer bar run by Numazu's Baird Brewing. Harajuku Taproom

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Harajuku
31

Crunch on some freshly cooked crisps

Snack food maker Calbee serves the freshest crisps you'll ever taste at this Harajuku outpost, complete with toppings including cheese, sour cream and chocolate. Go on: indulge yourself. Calbee Plus

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Harajuku
32

Savour the scent

The hustle and bustle of Harajuku quickly subsides on entering this temple of natural aromas, where you can get your own soap made to order, sip herbal teas or even have a quick ayurvedic treatment session. Tree of Life

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Harajuku
33

Try on some next-generation fashion

It may look like an ordinary apartment from the outside, but this boutique is as cutting-edge as they come, stocking all kinds of high-concept clothing by up-and-coming Japanese designers, as well as select secondhand items from overseas. Mikiri Hassin

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Aoyama
34

Snap up some eccentric duds

Intrepid fashion hounds in search of unusual designs won't be disappointed at this second-hand clothing shop, carefully curated by the people behind local fashion brand Toga. Toga XTC Harajuku

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Harajuku
35

Feast on some fruity puddings

One of Tokyo's most venerable fruit shops, Kyobashi Sembikiya offers a good perch for indulging on fruit buffets, desserts and juices while gazing out over the Omotesando drag. Kyobashi Sembikiya

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Harajuku
36

Show your fingernails some love

Give your nails the celebrity treatment at this 'beauty boutique' (Beautik, geddit?) run by well-known makeup artist Kaori K, boasting a full range of nail polishes by luxury brand Uslu Airlines, plus retouching and basic repairs for ¥500. Beautik

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Harajuku
37

Sip latte in a coffee castle

The lattes look almost too good to drink at this Seattle-style coffee shop. If you can snag a seat on the two (tiny) upstairs floors, you'll feel like the king of your own coffee castle. Streamer Coffee Company

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Harajuku
38

Have a late-night highball

Just a short walk from Harajuku Station, this old-school izakaya is a popular drinking spot. And not without good reason: head there any day except Fridays or holidays, and you can get draft beer and highballs for a piddling ¥180. Yukari

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Harajuku
39

Enjoy peace, love and ice cream

It was a long time coming, but Tokyo's first Ben & Jerry's finally opened in April 2012, selling old faves like Cherry Garcia and Phish Food alongside a few Japan originals. Ben & Jerry's

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Omotesando
40

Glimpse some of Tokyo's freshest styles

No matter how well you dress, you'll have trouble competing with the immaculately attired staff at one of Harajuku's edgiest boutiques, where select items from Japan and overseas are complemented by art by French graffiti artist Fafi. Faline Tokyo

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Harajuku
41

Stock up on trendy clothes – and books

Fashion behemoth Baroque Japan Limited's global flagship store showcases brands including Moussy and Sly, while even boasting its own bookshop – perfect for gyaru with an intellectual bent. The Shel'tter Tokyo

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Harajuku
42

Invest in some vintage threads

The sister shop to Shibuya's Toro does a nice line in quality vintage clothing at affordable prices, while also stocking remade items and accessories created by young designers. Otoe

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Harajuku
43

Have a tongue-tingling time

Your taste buds are guaranteed a good workout at this long-running Chinese restaurant, which specialises in fiery Szechuan cuisine. The lunch sets, including a sizzling mapo tofu, are particularly good value. Ryu No Ko

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Harajuku
44

Follow the buzz

Recommended

Currently one of the hottest destinations for young female shoppers, Nadia Flores en el Corazon hawks import and vintage clothing in vivid colours and eye-catching shapes. Nadia Flores en el Corazon

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Harajuku
45

Chomp down some old-school curry

When local curry shop Ghee closed in 2005, one of its former employees – A Bathing Ape's Nigo, no less – decided to resurrect it. Curry Up is the result, and it's comfort food heaven. Curry Up

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Harajuku
46

Dive into a manga menagerie

Design-savvy gift shop Tokyo's Tokyo looks to the world of anime and manga for inspiration, complete with display units designed to resemble pages of a comic book. Tokyo's Tokyo

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Harajuku
47

Slurp some noodles

Fast food doesn't get much heartier than at Kyushu Jangara. If you're looking for a real gut-buster, opt for the zenbu-iri: ramen with every available topping. Kyushu Jangara Ramen

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Harajuku
48

Finish your shopathon with a song

If all the shopping has put you in the mood for a singalong, you should be able to get a room at this popular karaoke chain, which has three branches in the middle of Harajuku. Karaoke Kan

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Harajuku
49

Find that rare figurine

Run by popular clothing brand Beams, this third-floor shop caters to Tokyo's most fashion-conscious otaku, offering an assortment of ultra-collectible figurines, art, gadgets, books and more besides. Tokyo Cultuart by Beams

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Harajuku
50

Power up, samurai style

Named after a distinguished samurai, Meiji Shrine's Kiyomasa Well has become a popular 'power spot' in the past few years, believed to bring good fortune in one's work. Kiyomasa Well

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Harajuku

Next up: Shibuya

Comments

2 comments
Dylan C
Dylan C

Great write-up! Title says 50 but content only has 25 though

Time Out Tokyo E
Time Out Tokyo E

@Dylan C Hi Dylan, thanks for your comment! You can see tips 26-50 by clicking on the tab underneath the intro.