- 1-Day Itinerary in Harajuku & Aoyama
- Top Sights in Harajuku & Aoyama
- Eating in Harajuku & Aoyama
- Drinking in Harajuku & Aoyama
- Shopping in Harajuku & Aoyama
- How to pronounce Harajuku?
- What is Harajuku famous for?
- What is Harajuku fashion?
This guide brings you over 35+ things to see, do, dine, and love in the Harajuku & Aoyama area of Tokyo — packed full of unique, strange, eclectic, and more; there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
- Yoyogi Park
- Takeshita Street
- Unique animal cafes
- Smokehouse BBQ
And much, much more.
If you are visiting Japan and only had enough time to see one city, I would say that it would have to be Harajuku.
There is no other place that is so full of life, so happy and vibrant, and so unique as Harajuku.
You know that feeling you get when you go to a state fair at night, and you are walking through the gaming sections, and the smell of fair food makes you feel like Homer Simpson when he sees a doughnut?
And the feeling you have looking at all the colorful lights and hearing the different music that fills the air as you walk amongst a crowd of people?
Well, multiply that by ten and throw in some young people who look like they stepped out of an anime cartoon and you will understand the essence that is Harajuku.
Japan is a country that prides itself on tradition and community. For a community to work harmoniously, everyone needs to follow the rules.
For the most part, this serves Japan well, but it can be exhausting, and sometimes you just need to go somewhere that allows you to let loose and unwind.
That’s why Harajuku is so popular with the youth of today.
The vibe is very hip and cool and a little bit freaky, but most of all, it is very accepting. This is the place where they can go to be who they are, no matter what that might be, and everyone just goes about their business of enjoying themselves.
In fact, Gwen Stephanie was so captivated by the energy and vibe of this town that she even wrote a song about it called “Harajuku Girls.” In the song, she describes the way they dress and act in Harajuku.
Girls dress in colorful outfits that are whimsical and child-like and some dress in cosplay, or what they call sweet Lolita.
Of course, there is the punk rock side of things as well. In most of Japan, tattoos are only for a specific group of people and are frowned upon, but not here in Harajuku.
Here, they are trendy and fashion-forward.
There is a ton of stuff to see and do here and almost impossible to see everything in one day, so I created a very ambitious itinerary for you to follow that will at least hit most of the highlights.
1-Day Itinerary in Harajuku & Aoyama
Once you have finished, cross over Harajuku bridge to check out Yoyogi Park. While you are there, be sure to see Kakuutei (old tea house), Kiyomasa’s well, Meiji Shrine Kagauraden, and Meiji Jingu Gyoen (garden).
When you are finished, head west (which is the 305).
There are many shops to check out down this road, and if you are an Alice in Wonderland fan, check out Alice on Wednesday for one-of-a-kind trinkets and gifts.
Also, check out the Awesome Store & cafe.
At this point, if you are already hungry for some lunch, there is a great fish and chips place called The Manhatten Fish Market, but if you ate breakfast and can hold off for a bit, then cross over to the other side of the street to Cat Street.
Don’t worry, you can’t miss it because it will be pretty busy. This is a pretty popular area, and as you walk down, you will come to a fork in the road.
You can pick either side, but there are small side streets that get back to the other street if you change your mind. Each one offers a variety of stores and places to eat.
Now it’s time for lunch! You have many options around here.
If you like seafood, then you have to go to Luke’s Lobster, they have the most fantastic lobster subs!
Or, you can check out Harajuku Gyoza Lou.
Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping, even if it is just window shopping, on Omotesando Avenue. Walk all the way down and then cross over to come back up the other side.
Once you make it back to Laforet intersection, you’ll be ready for a snack.
This is where the fun kicks up a notch because we’re going to have lunch at Monster Café. You do have to make a reservation, but it is super easy to do online.
After you have taken so many pictures you have half the storage left on your phone, we are going to walk Takeshita Street.
Feel Free to stop at any of the stores that catch your eye. Definitely stop at Purikura Shop NOA and enjoy a Harajuku experience by taking pictures in the many picture booths.
*The secret to enjoying yourself on this street is to just go with the flow. Don’t stress and focus on the thick crowd. Keep your head up and look at the surrounding store signs and the Harajuku shuffle.
For dinner, you can choose to stay on Takeshita street and sample a little bit of everything, or if you are looking to take a break from Japanese food, then try Wolfgang Puck Express.
Enjoy the manicured ponds and walkways that encase the shrine and lead back to the 305. Red Rock is directly across the street. You’ll recognize it by the cow head over the stairway.
If you are a person who likes dessert after a good meal, then head over to Cookie Time after you have eaten, but if you are more of a nightcap person, then I suggest Baird Beard Taproom – or heck, do both!
Top Sights in Harajuku & Aoyama
Sometimes you just need a little peace and quiet and to take a break from the shoulder to shoulder crowds.
Amazingly, you can actually find a place like that in the middle of the city, at Togo Shrine.
Koi filled ponds, and bamboo walkways are nestled in the middle of precisely tailored Japanese pine trees that provide not only a sense of calm but a place to rest and reflect on your day.
Pardon the interruption. If I could ask a favor. Would you mind sharing this article so your friends can find it too? Thank you!
Inside Yoyogi park, you will find tranquility and relaxation. There is a serene setting of ponds, trees, walkways, and a beautiful rose garden.
On the other side of the park is the entrance to the historical landmarks. Once you pass through the magnificent, wooden Tori gate, you can see Kakuuntei, Kiyomasa’s well, and Meiji Jingu, which is a shrine with a beautiful garden.
It does cost 500 yen to get in and closes at 4 pm, unlike the rest of the park.
Imagine the liveliness of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras but with the theme of Sailor Moon, mixed with the uniqueness of a gay pride parade.
Sure, you are elbow to elbow and you kind of due more of a shuffle than a walk, but as long as you keep your head up and enjoy the scenery, you won’t even be bothered by it.
The crowd is like moving water, if you stop or suddenly make a sharp right turn, it will simply go around, so don’t let that stop you from crossing the crowd to get to the venue you want to visit.
Every luxury store you can imagine is here. Stores like Gucci, Prada, Coach, Fendi, Dior, and so much more.
It’s like Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, and it’s typical to see Ferrari, Lamborghini, and other high-end sports cars driving down this road.
Harajuku has many animal cafes where you can go and enjoy spending a little time cuddling with a cute bunny, hedgehog, cat, owl, ferret, chinchilla, or even a meerkat and an otter!
Purikura Shop NOA
There are 25 photo booths inside this place, and each one offers its own variety of specialties that you can use to spice up your photo. It’s a trendy thing to do with a group of friends.
Wolfman Barber Shop
It doesn’t matter if you need a haircut or not, you need to check this place out.
When you walk in the door, it’s like walking into a scene from The Great Gatsby with vintage, lay-back barber chairs complete with footrests, intricate chrome details, and leather seats.
I half expect it to be a front for a secret speakeasy.
The male staff are dressed in herringbone-patterned pants, rolled-up long-sleeve white shirts that showcase their tattoos, suspenders, and a flat linen cap.
They take their time and do things right staying true to a real shave using a straight blade. The owner specializes in the handlebar mustache and sports one himself.
It’s such a cool place.
Eating in Harajuku & Aoyama
Kawaii Monster Café
The idea here is to imagine a monster that gobbles up all the fashion and culture of Harajuku, and you are inside the stomach of this colorful beast.
Inside is separated by different themed rooms, each one as psychedelic as the next. The best part is the staff who are in full Harajuku style costume and put on a show for you.
Deus Ex Machina Cafe
Sometimes you just want to have a beer, eat a delicious sandwich and enjoy the scenery and/or the company.
Deus is the place where you can do that and feel as if you are at an old friends place who is having a get-together. Complete strangers interacting as if they have all been hanging out together their whole lives.
You can sit at a table, at the bar, on a couch, or outside on a bench. The staff is so accommodating and laid back.
If you could imagine what it would be like if Scooby-Doo and Shaggy ran a restaurant, this would be it.
Absolutely the fluffiest pancakes you will ever eat!
The texture remains true to pancake style, just a much fluffier version that literally melts in your mouth.
There are many different creams, sauces, and fruits to accompany your pancake that just take it to that next level.
Eggs ‘n Things
Ok, so technically this is a Hawaiian restaurant, but it is too good not to mention.
From fluffy pancakes to meat platters, Hawaiian spam to garlic shrimp plates, there is such a variety that will definitely satisfy any cravings you might have.
Long! Longer!! Longest!!!
You will most definitely see people walking down Takeshita street with these really long, spiral potatoes on a stick, or super tall ice cream, cotton candy, and churros.
This novelty café is one of the more popular places to get a snack.
Crepes are one of the more popular desserts here in Japan.
You will find a crepe store just about everywhere you go, but Marion Crepes is the oldest and most popular spot to go on Takeshita street.
With over 100 different crepe combination, you are sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The Manhattan Fish Market
Don’t let the name throw you off. It’s not an actual fish market!
You might recognize it since it is a global restaurant chain, but it’s just better here in Japan!
Using only locally sourced seafood it is one of the best places to get fish ‘n chips in a comfortable, open-spaced atmosphere.
They have a perfect small lunch menu that hits the spot, but their night menu is what you really need to check out.
It’s the place to go if you are craving a big platter of seafood.
Gyoza Lou Harajuku
Ok, when you see this place you might be wondering why I even put this on here, but seriously, if you love Gyoza, trust me when I tell you that this is the best Gyoza in town.
The menu is super simple – fried or steamed, with a side of bean sprouts or cabbage. That’s it.
But oh, will your taste buds thank me. You don’t even need the sauce they’re so good.
This is not a place to sit down and eat, well, there are a few stools, but I have never seen one empty.
When you walk down the street and are close, you will start to see people holding these delicious looking subs and your mouth will instantly start to salivate. They look so darn delicious.
But when you take a bite and your teeth sink into this garlic buttered bread and you taste the succulent, sweet, and delicate lobster, your eyes roll in the back of your head with every bite. Man that’s good!
The best place to go for people with small kids.
It is a buffet-style restaurant that serves 90% organic food and their menu has information about any type of allergen that might be in there; which, is not a common thing in Japan, so if you or your child suffers from food allergies you will appreciate this detail.
Although it is in Japanese, Google Translate works great. Enjoy meat and vegan options as well as soup and salad and then head up to the 2nd floor for toy shopping.
Red Rock Harajuku
Are you a total carnivore? Like your beef to be the star of your meal?
Then Red Rock Harajuku is where you need to go.
Layers upon layers of perfectly cooked slices of roast beef rest on top of a bed of rice topped with an egg and yogurt sauce, which can be omitted if you like.
Sometimes you just need some good ole’ BBQ.
While there are other choices out there, Smokehouse is the best. But it’s not just the food that makes this place so great. The ambiance is very comfortable and relaxed with a hip vibe.
Maybe that’s why they call it “Urban BBQ”? Either way, you can’t go wrong enjoying an ice-cold brew with some sweetly smoked ribs.
My personal favorite is the smoky deviled eggs. YUM!
Totti Candy Factory
If the city of Harajuku could be described as taste, sugary-sweet would be my guess.
And if the city of Harajuku could be described as a color, it would be the color of Totti Candy Factory’s Harajuku Rainbow colored cotton candy.
Or maybe Harajuku is best described in one of their cute little animal cake pops?
Either way, it’s delectable.
The closest thing to a Willy Wonka Factory that you can get – absolute heaven for sugar addicts.
The best way to describe this place is to describe one of their best items – the “Freak Cone”.
This cone is stuffed with ice cream, has an ice cream sandwich stuck inside, a mini cone filled with liquid chocolate stuffed on the other side, a tiny ice cream cone filled with cookie dough stuffed somewhere in the middle and a few freshly baked mini cookies topping the whole thing off.
Get the idea? Sugar overload, but it is worth every bite.
Every time I go to this place the line is out the door and down the road and for good reason.
Ichiran Ramen is the best ramen out there.
It’s a place where you go when you really just want to enjoy the fantastic noodle experience instead of the experience of dining out with your friends. Once you start eating these noodles, it’s like nothing else in the world matters.
You can customize your ramen to your liking too, which makes it even better.
Drinking in Harajuku & Aoyama
Baird Beer Taproom
This is a traditional style Japanese yakitori-izakaya style pub. Meaning that this is a great place to get an ice-cold, in-house crafted beer that is full of flavor while you snack on yakitori rice bowls.
Owned by a husband and wife team, it is their mission to produce the most flavorful beer with character and dignity. They speak excellent English and want to make sure you have an outstanding time there.
It’s a great place to start or end your day
Rock Bar Half Moon
This is a great little bar that plays 70’s and 80’s music and serves hard liquor, not those fancy cocktails.
It’s a place to go to feel like you are at your local pub with your dearest friends and perfect if you are looking for a good stiff drink to end your night.
If you are needing something a little more familiar to you, then try Hub. It’s like a sports bar, but without the sports.
The look is a traditional English pub and serves a wide range of beer, cocktails, and food.
If you are here with your family, it’s a great place to go and enjoy a good drink and a late-night snack.
Shopping in Harajuku & Aoyama
If you are looking for street fashion that you will only find in Japan, or if you are looking for some kitsch & kawaii items (funky and cute), Laforet is where you will find it.
It is a perfect blend of hand-made and high-end. Where unique pieces from Japanese designers and couture pieces from Vivienne Westwood are mingled together.
It is the epitome of Japanese fashion culture and specifically Harajuku style.
An elegant shopping mall with seven floors and the most amazing mirrored kaleidoscope entrance. You can shop all the high-powered brand names and enjoy a rooftop garden on the sixth floor.
If you are looking to shop for items of clothing that will let you rock that Harajuku girl style, then this is where you will find it.
WEGO is a popular store amongst younger crowds and has a mixture of Japanese pop and American vintage clothing. WEGO is a chain store, so you can find them in just about any mall.
There are two just on Takeshita street alone, so if you don’t find what you are looking for at one, then try another one!
Thank You Mart
One of the prominent features of Harajuku style is the accessories, but sometimes finding the right ones can be difficult.
Not at Thank You Mart! Here you will find some of the best quality accessories at the best prices that you won’t find anywhere else.
At first glance, one might mistake it for a kiddy store, but that’s because those lines are blurred in Harajuku style.
Awesome Store & Café
Find eclectic items mixed with modern-day décor trends, random things you can’t live without and some things you use every day and this is what you will find at Awesome store.
Only this store has a café attached where you can enjoy an artistic bagel with a coffee after you shop.
Takeshita Street Daiso
Imagine the lowest prices but with brand store quality and every kind of ‘thing’ you could possibly imagine to buy, through in some things you never knew you needed and this is the wonderful store of Daiso.
The Japanese call it the 100 yen store, which is about equivalent to an American Dollar Store, but only in name because trust me, it’s nothing like an American Dollar Store.
If you’re looking to take home one heck of a souvenir, then take home a traditional Japanese Kimono. Oedo Kazuko has kimonos for kids to every size adult.
They have plenty of accessories to with vivid or traditional print kimonos.
Alice on Wednesday
If you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland, then you have to check this place out.
Starting at the entrance with the smallest door, you will find 2 floors of themed snacks, jewelry, and accessories. Make sure to try the ‘eat me’ biscuits and the ‘drink me’ cider.
This place is a kid’s dream come true! With 4 floors of nothing but toys, you will absolutely find something that will make your little one happy.
Or maybe even something that will bring out the child in you!
Polo Ralph Lauren /Denim and Supply
If you are looking for that special look that’s all denim then you are sure to find it here.
The store itself is decorated in a hip boho style denim with patchwork and studs everywhere you look.
You should check this place out even if you aren’t necessarily looking to purchase a pair of jeans.
How to pronounce Harajuku?
Hada-Jew-Koo. It can be used as both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it is the name of the town in Tokyo. As an adjective, it refers to a fashion style.
What is Harajuku famous for?
Harajuku is most famous for being the place where anime and cosplay come to life.
When you walk down the streets of Harajuku it is very common to see boys and girls dressed as famous characters or just dressed in their own unique, outspoken style.
To fit in with the style of the youth, the city stores also reflect the kawaii (cute) style. As extravagant as Harajuku fashion is, so are the stores.
Here is where you will find the most unique café’s that make Harajuku so popular.
What is Harajuku fashion?
It is freedom of expression. The birth of Harajuku fashion happened as a result of the youth of Tokyo rebelling against mainstream fashion.
It started as a mix of traditional Japanese attire mixed with some unique and colorful western clothing and with the youth wanting you to know that they will wear what they want when they want.
Today, the style is it is as wild, crazy, funky, and fun as you can get. Dress like a cute child and throw in some funky punk rock, mixed with some 80’s style candy machine jewelry, and crazy colored hair and you have Harajuku style.
Whether you like it or not, the message with this style is clear – we won’t conform to your rigid societal rules.