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50 things to do in Harajuku

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

Find wild things to do in Harajuku

It's the neighbourhood that gave us Lolita girls, decora, the pancake boom and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Harajuku has been the epicentre of Tokyo teen fashion (and vintage stores) 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 guide to Tokyo'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

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 toy shop, a five-floor emporium that first opened way back in 1950. Kiddy Land

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Harajuku
3

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 bustling Takeshita-dori. Daiso Harajuku

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4

Snap up some century-old spectacles

If 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
5

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 fashion now. Boutique Takenoko

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Harajuku
6

Satisfy your sweet tooth

Dig into a well-deserved sweet treat with a tasty waffle shot – simply a shot of espresso served in a chocolate-coated waffle cone at this dessert shop. If ice cream is more your thing, try out their cotton candy covered concoction – perfect for your Instagram feed. Anywhere Door

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7

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
8

Sift through today's coolest streetwear

Even among the shopping chaos that is Laforet, this store dealing in 'cutting-edge' fashion stands out from the rest. The neon lighting inside lends a quirky glow to styles from up-and-coming and edgy designers as well as a range of items from popular designer collabs. GR8

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9

Become a sneakerhead

Shop your way through this two-storey sneaker haven, home to a wide range of today's most popular brands as well as an in-house café on the basement floor, where you'll find a a collection of Bearbrick dolls, cool memorabillia and more. Atmos

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10

Have coffee with a hedgehog

They might not be the cuddliest, but hedgehogs sure are adorable creatures that we don't mind spending time with. Harry's Harajuku location is home to nine different types of hedgehogs you can pick up and admire along with your coffee. Hedgehog Café Harry Harajuku

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Harajuku
11

Dig for 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
12

Open up to 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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13

Take notes from the bean specialists

Koffee Mameya is a coffee bean dealer with enough shebang to turn you into a proper barista at home. They sell between 15 and 20 varieties of beans sourced from five specific roasteries, so you'll also be able to distinguish your favourite in the long run. Koffee Mameya

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Harajuku
14

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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15

Dine in proper 'kawaii' style

As the name gives away, this café right by Laforet is packed with elements drawn from all things kawaii. It's a fantastic merry-go-round of super-cute elements, and offers four types of appropriately OTT seating in areas labelled Mushroom Disco, Milk Stand, Bar Experiment and Mel-Tea Room. Kawaii Monster Cafe

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16

Make unique vintage finds

Inside this 'modern recycle shop' you’ll find a range of secondhand items, including antiques, furniture, clothing and art – many of which have been previously owned by celebrities. Pass the Baton

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Omotesando
17

Invest in some timeless designs

A collaboration between lifestyle shop D & Department and Comme des Garçons, this shop does what it promises – sells well-designed products, that is. From lifestyle goods for the home to Comme des Garçons clothing and accessories, every item stands the test of time. Good Design Shop

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Omotesando
18

Browse through endless amounts of music

Trusted among musos for its good taste, this independent record store collects vinyl and cassette tapes of indie bands from the US, the UK and Europe. Soak in the atmosphere at the bar space where you can enjoy Shiga Kogen beer, one of the best Japanese craft beers. Big Love

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19

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
21

Lounge in style

Aiming to let guests experience the best of the surrounding area during their stay, this hotel's lounge hosts parties every Friday night. The art-filled rooms are stocked with made-in-Japan, environmentally friendly bathroom amenities, which can also be bought at the shop on the ground floor. Trunk Hotel

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22

Savour sweet temptations

An upscale setting for some upscale treats, indulge in tempting offerings from traditional Japanese sweets like mochiyaki shiruko, to refreshing kakigori in the summer months. Gion Tokuya

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Harajuku
23

Shop with the cool kids

The first-ever flagship for Tokyo-based brand Ambush stretches across 140 square metres and its design remains true to the gender-neutral vibes of the brand’s collections. The store houses the brand’s conceptual jewellery alongside a growing number of its original apparel range. Ambush Workshop

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Shibuya
24

Thrift your day away

This thrift shop in Harajuku is well worth visiting for bargain hunting, offering T-shirts from ¥735 and shirts from ¥945. There are plenty of quality items to be found if you dig around a bit, and it also stocks a range of accessories, including shoes, bags and sunglasses. Kinji

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25

Party it up, Harajuku style

Found on a back street not far from Jingu Stadium, Bonobo occupies an old two-storey house with a rooftop terrace. The ground-floor bar is complemented by a DJ booth and a lounge upstairs, which is where the frequent gigs and other music events take place. Bar Bonobo

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Harajuku
26

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 is still the place to head. Putumayo

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Harajuku
27

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
28

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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29

Stay stylishly cool

Housed inside the new Shibuya Cast complex at the south end of Cat Street, this streetwear shop is attached to a café and restaurant. Lick on an ice cream cone as you browse through the selection of labels and footwear for both men and women. Pulp 417 Édifice

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Shibuya
30

Stock up on trendy clothes – and books

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

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Harajuku
31

Finish your shopathon with a song

Sing and dance to your heart's content at this staple karaoke joint in the heart of Harajuku. Continuing to bring in the crowds till the wee hours, complete your karaoke experience with food and drinks and you're set for the ultimate evening of fun. Just don't be a mic hog. Karaoke Kan

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32

Dig through well-worn vintage finds

From a slew of cut-off denim shorts to vintage items sewn and remade into inventive pieces, this two-storey shop is filled with unique vintage finds as well as a selection of accessories to complete your look. Panama Boy

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Harajuku
33

Satisfy your hunger with a classic

Japan's longest-running crêpe shop started life as a food truck in 1976 before moving to its current home on Takeshita-dori. It's the quintessential Harajuku street food, whether you're having it sweet or with a savoury filling like tuna and curry sauce. Marion Crêpes

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Harajuku
34

Admire priceless works from ukiyo-e masters

The late Seizo Ota, chairman of Toho Mutual Life Insurance, began collecting ukiyo-e prints after he saw that Japan was losing its traditional art to Western museums and collectors. Temporary exhibitions drawn from his 12,000-strong collection often include works by popular masters like Hiroshige and Hokusai. Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art

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35

Get yourself a one-of-a-kind kimono

If you’re looking for a pretty and vivid kimono with traditional prints, this is the place to be, while their small patches of kimono fabrics are quite popular too. Oedo Kazuko

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Harajuku
36

Slurp some fancy noodles

Dine on a fine selection of quality soba and traditional Japanese snacks at this serene spot located right above the hustle and bustle of Harajuku. Kamakura Matsubara-an Keyaki

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Harajuku
37

Showcase the epitome of cool

Toga presents sophisticated yet avant-garde garments and accessories for men and women and has even shown throughout Paris and London fashion weeks. Toga Harajuku

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38

Build up a sweat and climb a wall

Spread over three floors, this urban climbing gym overlooks Meiji-dori and is divided into beginner-intermediate, advanced and children's areas, making it the perfect place for family bouldering. Bouldering Studio Peki Peki

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Shibuya
39

Take a stroll through serene grounds

Hidden behind the busy streets of Harajuku is this peaceful shrine dedicated to Admiral Togo, who served as commander of the Imperial fleet during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Togo Shrine

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Harajuku
40

Stay up to date with the latest in the art world

This gallery was first established in Harajuku back in 1996, with a view to giving exposure to up-and-coming artists. Rocket's mission has changed little since then, and it continues to run exhibitions and events in the Harajuku area. Rocket

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41

Enjoy a latte or two

This uber-hip roastery and café on Cat Street is one of the city's flashiest specialist coffee haunts. Choose from two kinds of single-origin beans for your americano, latte or espresso. The coffee soft serves and suspiciously Cronut-like NY Rings are sure to satisfy sugar addicts. The Roastery

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Harajuku
43

Refresh your wardrobe

Hit up this cool shop on Cat Street for streetwear and a curated selection of vintage finds that will be the envy of everything else in your closet. From wacky patterned shirts to flowing dresses, their vintage selection is some of the best, while the hip hop-influenced T-shirts and sweatshirts make for the perfect mix. Unfollow

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44

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 dofu, are particularly good value. Ryu No Ko

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Harajuku
45

Step into Harajuku-style shoes

Be a bit adventurous with your next shoe purchase and browse through the flamboyant selection at this fun shop. Tokyo Bopper specialise in unique footwear styles and are best known for their ultra thick-soles which come in styles from boots to ballerina flats. Tokyo Bopper

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Harajuku
46

Dine in the depths of Harajuku

The perfect stop to wind down your day shopping through Harajuku and Omotesando, Negibouzu offers a range of classic izakaya dishes and drinks that will keep your taste buds happy and your stomach satisfied. Negibouzu

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47

Join Tokyo's stylish fashion scene

Dealing mainly in domestic brands like Mina Perhonen and Sina Suien, this boutique caters to 'girly but feminine' fashionistas and hosts regular exhibitions at the in-store gallery. Lamp Harajuku 

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Harajuku
48

Shop like a Seoulite

The latest import from South Korea, this big pink building is filled with miracle-working Korean skincare and makeup products along with a selection of reasonably priced wearables for the trend-conscious. Style Nanda

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Harajuku
49

Treat yourself to a sweet something

Originators of the 'cupcake craze', Magnolia Bakery have come a long way since they first opened in New York City. Featured on shows like Sex and the City and in movies including The Devil Wears Prada, their cupcakes, cookies, brownies and banana puddings have earned a place in the hearts of Tokyoites. Magnolia Bakery

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Omotesando
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50

Follow your inner zen

Exceedingly popular, this shrine opened in 1920 and draws annual crowds of a million-plus, plus hosts numerous festivals, weddings and other events around the area. Meiji Shrine & Inner Garden

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Harajuku

Next up: Shibuya

Comments

3 comments
Uzi30 R
Uzi30 R

Ok i'm already convinced cuz of the kawaii part

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.