The 15 Best Things to do in Harajuku: the ultimate guide
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One of the quirkiest and most colourful of Tokyo’s neighbourhoods, there are endless things to do in Harajuku, the kawaii and fashion capital of Japan. Harajuku is always our first stop in Tokyo when we want to explore the fun side of the city! From feasting on rainbow coloured food to embracing the kawaii culture and enjoying the serenity of its shrines, there is a host of things to do in Harajuku. We’ve put together this list of our favourite things to do in Harajuku: it’s our guide to the best 15 best things to do in Harajuku, enjoy!
The 15 Best Things to do in Harajuku
From food to fashion to the unexpected, Harajuku has something for everyone!
1 | Takeshita Street
Take a stroll down Takeshita Street! Takeshita-Dori is the main hub of Harajuku and the street is lined with shops selling everything from crepes to vintage clothes to candy floss. It’s colourful and crammed and, if you like people watching, the fashion scene is usually off the chart. Harajuku is the home of kawaii, the Japanese culture of cuteness, and it’s often possible to spot the incredible kawaii inspired fashion looks on Takeshita Street.
Sim Card & Internet
One of the best investments you can make for your trip to Japan is to buy/rent a sim card or 4G hotspot. This will give you internet access while on the go throughout the cities in Japan, where free public wi-fi is extremely limited.
We have used both sim cards and 4G hotspots during our trips to Japan. A sim card is perfect if you just have your phone – just check the sim card is compatible with your phone The 4G hotspots are great if you have multiple devices that need internet or if you’re travelling a group. They also avoid any compatibility issues with installing a sim card.
We used the Klook app to order our sim cards for our last trip. The app is great as you can order in advance and pick up on arrival or from various departure cities.
- The best 4G hotspot on offer is provided by URoaming with unlimited data – check prices now!
- The best sim card is from Docomo (who we used) – check prices now!
Where to Stay in Tokyo
There are many options for places to stay in Tokyo. Here are some of our favourites:
- Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station: We opted for the Courtyard Tokyo Station as the hotel is located close to Tokyo’s main train station and is within walking distance of our Tokyo must see sites such as the Tsukiji fish market, Sushi Dai and Ginza. The accommodation was high quality, good value and our room, while compact, was fitted out well. Click here for latest prices!
- Other good options close to Tokyo Station are Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyobashi and Super Hotel Lohas Tokyo Station Yaesu-Chuoguchi .
- Shibuya Excel Hotel, Tokyu: The 25th floor restaurant level offers the best views of Shibuya and the location, beside Shibuya station, is excellent for exploring the city – Check prices here!
- Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel: A solid and modern hotel option. It’s really central for exploring the city and relatively affordable compared to the rest of the city. Check prices here!
2 | Purikura
Purikura translates to ‘print club’ and refers to the popular Japanese photo booth stores that are dotted around Tokyo. Japan took the regular photo booth idea, added stickers, captions and craziness, and Purikura was born. The photobooths allow you to edit and enhance your images in funny and crazy ways before printing and the shops are super popular, especially with Japanese youth.
One of the best in Tokyo is located on Takeshita Street in Harajuku and the printed photos are an awesome memory of Tokyo.
3 | Kawaii Monster Café
Tokyo is famous for its themed restaurants and cafes and it’s possible to dine with robots and attend mad hatter tea parties. The Monster Café is a Kawaii themed café located in Harajuku and our Monster Cafe lunch was one of the most fun things we did in Japan!
The Monster Cafe is a visual feast with bizarre food, eye-watering decor and quirky drinks which, combined with the crazy atmosphere, make for an awesome Tokyo experience.
4 | The Moshi Moshi Box
The Moshi Moshi Box is Harajuku’s Visitor Centre and it offers a range of tourism services from currency exchange to neighbour maps. Its main draw is the colourful Moshi Moshi world clock which was designed by Sebastian Masuda, a pioneer of kawaii culture and creator of the aforementioned Monster Café.
5 | Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is in stark contrast to the craziness of the surrounding Harajuku. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan and held power as Japan became modernised and Westernised.
The shrine is accessed via two huge torii gates which lead to a tranquil forest with over 100,000 trees. In late June, the Shrine’s Inner Garden is a spectacular sight with 150 species of irises in full bloom while the Treasure House hosts portraits and kimonos of previous Japanese Emperors as well as personal items of the Emperor and Empress.
Visitors can wander through the rest of the shrine complex and make offerings in the main hall or write their hopes on an ema.
Best things to do in Harajuku tip: Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Japan and welcomes millions of visitors every year. Admission to Meiji Shrine is free but both the Inner Garden and the Treasure House require the purchase of a ticket which each cost 500 yen.
6 | Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku
Tokyo boasts many awesome shopping centres across the city but the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku has two hidden gems which make it a must visit in Harajuku. The outdoor terrace on the 6th-floor rooftop looks out onto Harajuku and is the perfect spot to grab and coffee and enjoy the views and the fresh air. Then there’s the entrance, an intriguing kaleidoscope of mirrors, where you can check out your reflection from every angle imaginable!
7 | ‘Now is Forever’ Street Art
Harajuku is home to some of Tokyo’s finest street art and has some awesome murals adorning its side streets. Our favourite is the iconic ‘Now is Forever’, painted by American Stephen Powers in Ura-Harajuku over 5 years ago.
8 | Daiso 100 Yen
Shopping is a Japan staple and the maze of shop filled streets in Harajuku make it perfect spot to experience the fun stores that Japan has to offer. Daiso 100 Yen is a chain of Japan discount stores which stock an eclectic range of products for 100 yen or less. We spent hours roaming the aisles giggling at what was on offer: from sushi erasers to lucky cats to the highly coveted wrinkle fighting Daiso White Medicated Essence Daiso has something for everyone. These 100 yen shops are dotted throughout Tokyo and the Daiso in Harajuku is one of the biggest and best.
9 | Rainbow Food
The rainbow coloured food trend began in Korea and Le Shiner soon popped up in the streets of Harajuku. Le Shiner is famous for its rainbow grilled cheese sandwich, drinks served in light bulbs and unicorn ice cream. With a constant flow of Instagrammers carefully pulling apart their rainbow coloured grilled cheese delights, the store is easy to spot and often has a queue.
Best things to do in Harajuku tip: rainbow coloured grilled cheese tastes just like non rainbow coloured grilled cheese!
10 | Harajuku Train Station
Dating back to 1924, Harajuku Station is the oldest wooden station building in Tokyo and is a little piece of history in the city. Most visitors arrive at Harajuku by train and the historic station is the first thing they see in Harajuku. For a small station, it manages to squeeze in a lot of people and it’s a great place to people watch.
11 | Kawaii Fashion
Harajuku is the home of kawaii, the Japanese culture of cuteness which encompasses everything adorable. Although not as prominent as it once was, it’s still possible to catch a glimpse of the colourful and cutesy Kawaii fashion scene on the streets of Harajuku.
12 | Shopping
Harajuku is a shopping mecca and is home to a host of fashion stores. Its main street, Takeshita-Dora has a wide selection of quirky and vintage stores such as Flamingo and Pin Nap, while the Omotesando area boasts an impressive collection of high-end stores. Brand names such as H&M and Uniqlo are dotted on the streets in between meaning there really is something for everyone.
13 | Togo Shrine
The quiet and serene Togo Shrine is a few steps from the heaving craziness of Harajuku’s main thoroughfare, Takeshita Street. The Shinto Shrine is dedicated to Togo Heihachiro who is credited with leading Japan to victory in the Russo-Japanese between 1904 and 1905. It’s gardens and tea house are a welcome retreat from the crowds of Harajuku and many pray for assistance in achieving success.
14 | Eat!
The Harajuku food scene is colourful and quirky and indulging in some of its unique treats is one of our favourite things to do in Harajuku. As well as the aforementioned kawaii Monster Café and the rainbow themed Le Shiner, Harajuku has an array of sweet streets and savoury delights to sample. Our highlights include the circus-inspired candy floss at Totti Candy and the amazing gyoza, rumoured to be among the best in Tokyo, at Harajuku Gyoza-ro. Then there are the world famous cronuts at the Dominque Ansel bakery as well as mouth-watering crepe stores where the plastic food displays are amazing beyond belief. And that’s just to name a few, there’s no doubt you will be spoiled for choice in Harajuku.
15 | Harajuku Bridge
Passing over the Yamanote Line between Harajuku Station and the entrance to the Meiji Shrine the more formally know Jingu Bashi Shrine Bridge is an awesome place to hang out. It attracts cosplayers, where performers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a character, buskers, fashionistas and artists as well as the tourists who congregate to enjoy the performances and vibrant atmosphere.
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