Translated by Lester Somera
20 Things To Do In Harajuku - Where New Trends And Tradition Meet In Tokyo
Written by MATCHA
Harajuku is famous for its kawaii Japanese pop culture and beautiful nature-filled spots, like Yoyogi Park and Meiji Jingu. We introduce popular spots and destinations to visit in the Harajuku and Omotesando area, from Takeshita Street to art museums and all-you-can-eat sweets.
Harajuku and Omotesando - Trendy Neighborhoods with Traditional Culture
Photo by Pixta
Harajuku is a Tokyo neighborhood best known for its bright colors and trendy shops. It is where Japan's kawaii culture began and continues to thrive. Harajuku is full of cafes and apparel stores with creative pop-culture vibes such as the Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku.
However, this area contains much more than just trendy spots: the iconic Meiji Jingu Shrine and nature-filled Yoyogi Park, as well as the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, where you can view ukiyo-e art, are also close to Harajuku Station. This combination creates a diverse array of ways for visitors to enjoy themselves in Harajuku.
Next to Harajuku is the Omotesando area. While Harajuku tends to be popular with younger people, Omotesando and its rows of boutiques attract a more mature audience. With shops such as the Minami-Aoyama Prada branch with its diamond-shaped glass facade and Louis Vuitton Omotesando shaped like stacks of suitcases, strolling around Omotesando feels like walking through an art museum. The neighborhood also has a variety of cafes with a relaxed, elegant atmosphere and famous sweets shops.
Below are twenty spots you shouldn’t miss when visiting Harajuku and Omotesando.
20 Spots in Harajuku and Omotesando:
1. Takeshita Street - The Embodiment of Harajuku
Photo by Pixta
Takeshita Street, or Takeshita-dori, is the best-known shopping street in Harajuku. It has rows of affordably-priced shops selling trendy clothing, accessories, makeup, and merchandise of all types.
The area is very busy on weekends and holidays, with many people flooding the street. Some of the stores here include the famous 100-yen shop, The Daiso, Calbee Plus, which sells freshly fried potato chips, and the boutique Takenoko, which sells peculiar fashion items such as lolita goods.
It is also famous for its various crepe shops: you will see many people walking down Takeshita Street while eating a crepe. How about buying your favorite crepe and taking a picture of yourself with the Takeshita Street in the background?
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 1-19
Access: Right by the JR Harajuku Station Takeshita exit
2. Cat Street - A Stylish Avenue That Leads to Shibuya
The Cat Street, a promenade that connects Harajuku to Shibuya, is a road lined with unique shops and second-hand stores. It also offers comfortable cafes where you can take a break when you’re tired. The area around Cat Street is beloved as the hidden side of Harajuku for many years.
You can find many street brands and other unique shops around Cat Street. Experience the fun of walking around the unknown side of Harajuku.
3. Laforet - A Shopping Complex Symbolizing Harajuku
The fashion complex Laforet Harajuku is very popular with teens and young adults, filled with its trendy fashion and accessories. This building primarily houses brand name apparel and cosmetic stores, and also contains cafes and other general shops on the upper floors. There is an official Sailor Moon store with goods that are sure to delight fans located on the sub-basement level.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 1-11-6
Access: Five minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, a minute on foot from Meiji Jingumae Station on the Fukutoshin Line
4. Omotesando Hills - Explore The Latest Trends
Omotesando Hills, five minutes walk from Meiji Jingumae Station, is a shopping mall with a collection of Japanese brand boutiques. Within the facility, there are more than one hundred shops that handle unique and high-quality merchandise. The main building, with three sublevels and three floors above ground, has a central open air space with a unique design. A spiraling slope surrounds it.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 4-12-10
Access: Two minutes from the Omotesando Station A2 exit on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, and Hanzomon Line, three minutes on foot from Meiji Jingu-mae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line and Fukutoshin Line
5. Kiddy Land - Shop for Anime Merchandise
Kiddy Land is the leading toy store in the Harajuku area. Here you will find Studio Ghibli character merchandise, as well as many goods featuring famous characters such as Doraemon, Hello Kitty, and Snoopy. Hollywood stars who come to Japan even visit Kiddy Land occasionally. If you’re an anime fan or like cute things, you should stop by Kiddy Land.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 6-1-9
Access: Two minutes on foot from the Meiji Jingu-mae Station exit 4 on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line
6. Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku - Home to Stylish Fashion Brands
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is a shopping complex across the street from Laforet Harajuku. If you go up the escalator at the entrance, you will be surrounded by mirrors. This makes the building and especially the escalator a popular spot to take photos.
Located on the roof is a space where you can relax for free, known as the Toy Forest. On the same level is a cafe. This lush green garden is even seasonally decorated for occasions like Halloween and Christmas. A cooling mist sprays through the area on hot summer days.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 4-30-3
Access: Four minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station, five minutes on foot from the Meiji Jingu-mae Station exit 5 on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line
7. LUSH Harajuku - Stock up on Japan-Only Bath Bombs
LUSH Harajuku is a shop selling exclusively bath bombs, pairing perfectly with Japan's onsen and bathing traditions. This location is a must-visit for all LUSH fans and visitors who like relaxing baths. You will find bath bombs in shapes and colors inspired by Harajuku and Japan, including ninjas and maneki neko cats. Turn your bathtime into a relaxing and fun reminder of your travels!
Address:Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 1-13-11
Access: 2 minutes walk from Harajuku Station
8. Oriental Bazaar - Look for Traditional Japanese Souvenirs
Picture courtesy of Oriental Bazaar
This building, with its eye-catching shrine-like exterior, is a souvenir shop that handles traditional Japanese products, gadgets, and folk crafts. Oriental Bazaar opened in 1916 as a gadget shop in Nihonbashi. They moved to Harajuku in 1951. The store has such a long history that it’s said that even John Lennon has visited the Oriental Bazaar.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 5-9-13
Access: Five minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station, three minutes on foot from Meiji Jingu-mae Station Exit 4 on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line
9. Meiji Jingu - A Landmark Shrine in Japan
Picture from Meiji Jingu: Harajuku's Stunning Shrine
Photo by Pixta
One of the highlights of the shrine is the giant wooden torii gate. 12 meters tall and 17 meters wide (39 feet tall, and 56 feet wide), it is said to be the biggest of its kind in Japan. When you go through the gate you will immediately feel the peaceful atmosphere of the nature-filled shrine grounds.
The vast shrine grounds are around 70,000 square meters (about 17 acres), and around 100,000 trees planted within the area are offerings from various regions all around Japan.
There is a daily event called Nikkusai held at 8:00 and at 14:00, where a sacred food offering is made to the gods. A religious ceremony called Tsukinamisai is held on the 1st and 15th of every month.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Yoyogi Kamizono 1−1
Access: Two minutes from JR Harajuku Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Meiji Jingumae Station on the Fukutoshin Line
10. Yoyogi Park - Enjoy the Seasons
Yoyogi Park is located next to Meiji Shrine. With an area of 54.1 hectares (135 acres), you can enjoy the natural beauty of all four seasons on the vast park grounds. Visitors can spend their time watching the flowers, having picnics, playing music, and enjoying sports in the park, including running around the park's paths.
The Yoyogi National Stadium, built in 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics, is also in this area. If you like architecture, the hanging roof of the stadium, constructed without using pillars so that spectators could focus on the games, is something you should check out. Its smooth lines and silhouette are very artistic as well.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Yoyogi Hanazono 2-1
Access: Three minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station, Yoyogi Park Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, or Meiji Jingumae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line, six minutes on foot from Yoyogi Hachiman Station on the Odakyu Line
11. Ota Memorial Museum of Art - See Japanese Ukiyo-e
Picture courtesy of Ota Memorial Museum of Art
This art museum is specifically focused on ukiyo-e. Each month the museum selects artwork based on a theme and displays around 14,000 pieces. This includes work by representative ukiyo-e artists such as Utamaro Kitagawa, Hokusai Katsushika, and Hiroshige Utagawa. At the museum's souvenir shop you can buy tenugui hand towels printed with ukiyo-e art, as well as postcards. Both make great souvenirs. You can see various new pieces each time you visit, so every visit will be a delight.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 1-10-10
Access: Five minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station, three minutes on foot from the Meiji Jingumae Station exit 5 on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line
12. Nezu Museum - Encounter Art and a Japanese Garden
Picture courtesy of ©Mitsumasa Fujitsuka
At the Nezu Museum, you are able to appreciate Japanese and Western artwork. Buddhist carvings that have become Important Cultural Properties, Japanese paintings designated as national treasures, and various other highly acclaimed art pieces are on display here. The collection belongs to industrialist and tea ceremony master Kaichiro Nezu.
Nezu Museum’s other appealing point is its Japanese garden. Within the vast garden, there is a teahouse comprised of four buildings. After enjoying the artwork, we recommend taking a stroll through the garden.
Address: Tokyo, Minato, Minami-Aoyama 6-5-1
Access: Eight minutes on foot from the Omotesando Station A5 exit on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, or Chiyoda Line
13. Moshi Moshi Box Harajuku Information Center - Don't Know Where to Go?
The Moshi Moshi Box, with its cute clock art, is a tourist information center in Harajuku. In addition to providing sightseeing information, it has various other services, such as free Wi-Fi, phone charging and currency exchange. The second floor is the pop-themed Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon, where you can try on original style kimonos. How about getting pictures of yourself wearing a Harajuku style kimono as a keepsake of your trip?
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 3-23-5
Access: Seven minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station
14. The Kawaii Monster Cafe - The Epitome of Cuteness
The Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku is full of kawaii (cute) culture. Produced by Sebastian Masuda, who is responsible for some of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music videos, it is a themed cafe with a fresh and interesting feeling to it. Stepping into Kawaii Monster Cafe means entering a vivid and crazy new world.
The food and drinks are extremely colorful, such as this pastaserved on a paint palette and beverages full of strawberries, oranges, and other fruits. The cafe is just like Harajuku, it absorbs trends and creates a new culture with them. Kawaii Monster Cafe gives the area’s unique culture a visible form.
Picture courtesy of Magical Trip
For those interested in a special lunch at the Kawaii Monster Cafe and exploring Harajuku in-depth, a guided tour is a great option. For more information and booking click this link.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 4-31‐10 YM Square 4F
Access: One minute on foot from Meiji Jingumae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, five minutes on foot from JR Harajuku Station
Homepage: Kawaii Monster Cafe
15. Cafe Ron Ron - All-You-Can-Eat Conveyor Belt Sweets!
MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron (Cafe Ron Ron) is home to adorable, miniature desserts of all types, served to you conveyor belt sushi-style. This beyond-cute restaurant offers a 40-minute, all-you-can-eat service where you simply take what you want. You will find a variety of things to satisfy your sweet tooth, from Japanese dango (sweet rice cakes on a skewer) to mini-versions of Harajuku crepes, to dainty macarons with cat decorations. This unique spot will delight visitors who are fans of sushi or all things cute!
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya Ward, Jingumae 6-7-15
Access:3 minutes walk from Mejijingumae Station
16. Gomaya Kuki - Try Delicious Sesame Ice Cream
Gomaya Kuki’s flagship item is its super-rich sesame ice cream, made with about 9,000 sesame seeds. While the ice cream is delicious on its own, variations like ice cream parfait topped with green tea pudding and sesame ice cream tempura are also items that shouldn't be missed. You can add sesame seed and sesame oil toppings for free, so why not customize the ice cream to your liking?
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 4-26-22 Harajuku H Building 1F
Access: 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station
17. Hedgehog Cafe®️ HARRY - Relieve Stress with Cute Animals
Picture courtesy of Hedgehog Cafe Harry
At Hedgehog Cafe®️ HARRY, the animals can move around freely in the cafe’s stylish interior. Just looking at them will put a smile on your face.
You can touch them but be gentle. The feeling of a hedgehog rolling up into a ball in your palms will surely relax you. At the Otter Cafe®️ HARRY, you can play with otters, chinchillas (*1) and rabbits in addition to hedgehogs.
※1: Chinchillas are highland animals from South America. Resembling squirrels, they are about 30 cm in length, with tails that are about 15 cm long.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingu-mae 1-13-21, Shanzeru Harajuku Building 2, 4F
Access: One minute on foot from JR Harajuku Station
18. Calbee PLUS - Snack on Potato Chips!
For those craving some crunch and salt to add to their Harajuku exploration, look no further than Calbee PLUS. One of Japan's most major potato chip and snack manufacturers, Calbee brand potato chips and snacks can be found at locations all over Japan. However, Calbee PLUS is a special location where visitors can browse a large variety of different snacks, from sweet potato to regional flavors, and indulge in freshly-made chips and snacks.
The Calbee PLUS Harajuku store is right down Takeshita Street. Look for the colorful storefront and adorable Calbee logo. Enjoy just-fried potato snacks or pick up some souvenirs for friends.
19. BROOK'S ME-BYO Cafe - Delicious and Nutritious Options
Picture from BROOK'S ME-BYO café - Harajuku's Healthy And Delicious Oasis
BROOK's ME-BYO Cafe is a casual cafe serving a menu of a variety of nutritious and delicious choices, from matcha, coffee, sweets, to burgers. With so many options, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free drinks and dishes, there is something everyone can enjoy. You can choose dine-in or take-out for most items.
The healthful choices and spacious cafe will provide a great break from the crowds of Harajuku to those feeling tired. Take a rest and refuel for the day!
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 6-4-1
Access: Around a 5-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station and Meiji Jingumae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
20. Noodle Stand Tokyo - Creative Ramen for Everyone
Noodle Stand Tokyo is a ramen restaurant just past Takeshita Street, known for its options and creativity. There are vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, as well as low-carbohydrate and gluten-free options. Be sure to try the coconut miso ramen, which pairs the creaminess of coconut with the body and flavor of miso for a delicious, one-of-a-kind dish. This is a must-visit for anyone craving ramen in Harajuku!
The restaurant is located on a basement floor and is cozy, making it ideal for smaller parties. There are a few tables and counter seats available.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 1-21-15 Napole Harajuku Building
Access: A few minutes from JR Harajuku Station and Tokyo Metro Meiji-jingumae Station walking
Harajuku and Omotesando - Easily Accessible, Fun and Fashionable
JR Harajuku Station is five minutes by train from Shinjuku Station. You can even get there on foot from Shibuya Station in about 20 minutes. The Tokyo Metro Meiji Jingumae Station is reachable from Ikebukuro Station by the Fukutoshin Line in about 10 minutes. To get to the Tokyo Metro Omotesando Station you can take the Ginza Line from Asakusa or Ueno and it will take about 10 minutes.
Traveling to Harajuku is convenient from anywhere in Tokyo and it is a place you should visit at least once, so why not come and visit two of the most fashionable parts of Tokyo?
Original writer: Jumpei Kawashima
*This article is a rewrite of the original, published on August 15th, 2016.