In roughly the midsection of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward you will find the area commonly referred to as Harajuku (原宿)—technically, it’s Jingūmae 1-chōme—the epicenter of all that is young and edgy, with particular emphasis on fashion. It is from here that pop icons like Gwen Stefani take their style cues. At Harajuku’s heart, Takeshita Street (竹下通り Takeshita-dōri) will quickly immerse you in the scene, which makes it popular among tourists and local fashionistas alike. It also happens to be the most direct route to go between Jingūmae 3-chōme and Harajuku Station, so the lane is frequently a curious mix of dress, from eye-popping pairings (or mismatches, depending on your taste) to dark, buttoned up suits.
Takeshita Street is within view of Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
On this day, I found Yui and the rest of the K-On! cast greeting me on the platform.
That’s not a mistake. This and the following photo were taken at exactly the same spot and, according to the EXIF data, five seconds apart. What’s interesting is that the first has young adults and a group of boys in school uniforms—
—while the second has changed to blue and grey suits.
Like many non-primary streets in Japan the lane is narrow, in this case only wide enough for one car to pass. There is no raised sidewalk, but the edges of the lane are marked with lines and different colored bricks. In practice, few cars actually use the street, those that do usually having legitimate reasons (delivery, pickup) for being there.
Though there are a handful of chain stores, the majority are small, independently owned shops.
Once store shutters have been opened, the displays are pushed out right up to the lane edge.
Store employees stand in the street with billboards to alert walkers to things that might not be within eyesight.
No savory crepes here, but you can get a day’s worth of caloric intake of cream and sugar in convenient, cone-rolled crepe form.
Every nook and cranny has its own story.
This car averaged about 3km per hour, never attempted to pass anyone, and never honked. Here, pedestrians set the pace.
Shop owners in Japan are masters of footfall. They will use everything at their disposal to catch your eye as you pass by, with the idea to make you pause long enough to consider taking a peek inside.
Though the wares on display at Takeshita Street are unlikely to ever make it into my own closet, I always enjoy a stroll here, nonetheless. This place was made for walking, wandering, lingering and loitering, and I’m more than happy to do my part.
This post is part of The Tokyo Project. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.
Additional volumes: Volume 2