Harajuku: Street Fashion Capital

Tokyo is Japan’s most populous city, so it’s no surprise that there are almost as many different sides to the city as there are people. For instance, there are 23 special wards in the city of Tokyo–just in the most populous area. You may have heard of some of these wards in pop culture references to Japan.

On a recent trip to Japan’s capital, I was reading a list on the Tokyo App of 73 things to do in Tokyo to get some ideas and Harajuku kept popping up, so I decided to spend a few days in this cool area.

These days, Harajuku is one of those pop culture words that are popular even outside of Japan.

Harajuku isn’t a ward–it’s a section of the Shibuya ward, specifically around the Harajuku Station. But this small section of a Tokyo ward is famous globally as one of the fashion capitals of the world. However, the fashion you’ll find here is different from the high-class fashion you’ll find in other areas of Tokyo. The “street fashion” you’ll find on teenagers and young adults is usually bright, bold, and one-of-a-kind.

The fashions tend to gravitate toward one of three styles: lolita, visual kei, and cosplay–however, in Harajuku, anything goes. The young people who show off their clothes in Harajuku take pride in creating their own mix-and-match designs.

Lolita: Lolita fashions (exclusively for women or men cross-dressing) are somewhat reminiscent of Victorian-era clothes with much shorter skirts and a few modern accessories. There are a number of subcategories within the style, including “Gothic Lolita,” which makes use of mostly black and dark colors, and “Baby Lolita,” which emphasizes pastel colors and cutesy accessories.

Visual Kei: Visual kei, which we’ve covered as a musical genre, is known for theatrical outfits that mix Gothic black and dark colors as well as Victorian-era type of clothing. Brightly colored hair and kabuki-style makeup complete the ensembles.

Cosplay: Cosplay is short for “costume play” and it refers to dressing up as fictional characters. Most often in Japan, this refers to dressing as characters from anime, manga, video games, and famous bands, but it can also refer to roleplaying by wearing costumes, such as roleplaying as maids, nurses, and even schoolgirls.

Have you ever heard of Harajuku? Have you ever been to Harajuku? What do you think of the street fashion there?


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Tags: Animation, anime, cool japan, cosplay, fashion, harajuku, japan, japanese culture, japanese places, lolita, manga, music, tokyo, visual kei