Don't just dismiss Harajuku as cutesy, brash and kitschy. Take a chance on this pop culture hub and venture down its less-trodden streets – you'll discover many secret shops that are cool, stylish and sophisticated. There's a hidden florist, a sneaker specialist, a furoshiki wrapping cloth gallery, and more. Want to explore the best of Harajuku? Don't forget to add these places to your list the next time you're in the area.
Check out these hidden spots
Although it’s located in Harajuku’s popular vintage and consignment area, Funktique is not a shop you’d accidentally walk into as it’s tucked away from the crowds on the third floor of an inconspicuous building. Opened by a husband and wife duo from Fukushima – who relocated to this part of town after the 2011 earthquake – the shop is indeed funky, offering a mix of accessories, toys and clothing. However, the focus here is on fashion from the ’90s to the early 2000s, with the odd older piece thrown into the mix. You’ll also find several original items like printed tees and hoodies bedecked with the word ‘underwear’ in gothic script and fun mugs featuring a cheeky play on the Nike logo. For some fashion fiends, this shop might seem familiar as the owner’s daughter Coco is a famous Instagram style star who has accumulated almost half a million followers. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of this adorable fashionista, make sure you stop by on the weekends, when Coco can often be found playing dressing-up with her parents.
This beautiful shop specialises in traditional Japanese furoshiki wrapping cloths, which are used to wrap everything from bento lunch boxes to wine bottles and gifts. Hailing from Kyoto, this is the shop’s only Tokyo location and offers a wide range of prints so tastefully designed that it’s hard to choose just one. Musubi also holds regular classes to demonstrate how to properly use and tie this ecological form of packaging. If tied properly, furoshiki can even be folded into a cool ‘hand’ bag to carry all your things. Make sure to stalk their website for designer collaborations and special limited edition prints.
Visit A+S, otherwise known as Architecture and Sneakers, for a dose of Tokyo’s ever-evolving streetwear and sneaker culture. Just as the shop name suggests, what you’ll find here is a well-edit selection of sneakers inside an immaculately designed space run by the folks behind Japanese streetwear label Soph (whose store is located right below). Along with some of today’s most popular footwear models, mostly from Nike, you’ll also find sportswear basics like T-shirts and caps. They even have mini versions of selected shoe styles for children. The items here straddle a range of budgets, from Nike and Cole Haan to luxury brands like Balenciaga and Maison Margiela.
You would hardly think anything, let alone a flower shop, exists at this peculiar location. Hidden behind a building next to a restaurant there’s a stone path that leads to a sunny enclave adorned with overhanging trees and colourful florals. The florist has called this obscure Harajuku spot home for the last seven years and continues to turn out gorgeous bouquets and made-to-order arrangements. The indoor space is where the arrangements are made while the adjoining outdoor space centres around a tree that displays other items for sale including candle holders, nabe pots, small items of stationery and floral books. This secluded shop also has a sister store on Cat Street, where you can purchase both fresh and dry flowers.
Located down the backstreets of Takashita-dori, this shop houses over 400 different mugs and cups made by craftsmen and artisans from around Japan. On each shelf you’ll find a short description of where the mug is from and the artisan who made it – so you know you’re getting a work of art instead of a generic mug. At a corner, you’ll also find a small café stand where you can order coffee served in the mug of your choice. Best of all, a cup of coffee starts from just ¥100 — the cheapest caffeine hit in the ’hood.
This lifestyle shop-meets-café in Sendagaya seeks to 'straddle the boundary between work and life' – we hope that means a better work-life balance, but you can never be sure in this city; it might just mean 'turning your office into your apartment'. Indeed, they focus on items that are supposed to be useful for both your working and private life, such as selected stationery, furniture and other originals. The café is on the ground floor, where you'll find coffee made with Obscura beans, as well as cut sandwiches with freshly fried croquettes. Maybe work and life can get along after all.