Harajuku: trendy fashion, Meiji Jingu shrine, Yoyogi Park and Omotesando
Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Harajuku is internationally famous because of fashion and the electrifying buzz of the main street which connects Harajuku and Omotesando. Trendy youngsters flock to the Takeshita-dori and this is what makes Tokyo fashion so special because the main street is so different and this applies to style, age group and the ambient feel. However, the distance between both places is so short and this is why Tokyo fashion is so special.
Harajuku and the area adjacent is not only focused on fashion because the Meiji Jingu shrine is the most opulent and sophisticated in Tokyo. This stunning shrine is very symbolic and rich in grandeur and you have a lovely garden and many walkways in this spacious area. Also, it is a living shrine but because of the open nature of Shintoism you don’t have the overtly pious nature of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
Therefore, the Meiji Jingu shrine encompasses all the positives of the indigenous faith of Japan. The entire complex is about nature, prayer, relaxation, beauty in simplicity, space, and connecting with what you deem to be special. It can be a religious experience, a casual visit, a place for tourists to view, a place to escape the stresses of life, a picnic in the garden area and just a fluke visit based on having free time. However, whichever it may be you won’t have any religious restrictions put on you unlike some other faiths which divide women and men and have restrictions on clothing.
Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park are very close and this park also provides a spacious place to relax and enjoy a pleasant walk. Often you will see students rehearsing and relaxing with friends, local people walking their dogs, lovers holding hands, friends relaxing, individuals out for a stroll and many joggers keeping fit. Mixed in this environment will be tourists and Tokyoites from different areas who are out for a casual walk or taking a break from the fashion district and unwinding in nice surroundings.
However, for the lovers of fashion then Harajuku is all about stylish boutiques, the latest trends, daring fashion, and iconic companies like 6%Dokidoki which was created by the fashion designer Sebastian Masuda. Therefore, when leaving the main train station in Harajuku you can enter the world of fashion, Shintoism or escape by relaxing in spacious grounds in either Yoyogi Park or the Meiji Jingu shrine.
The magnet area for trendy teenagers and young adults is the Takeshita-dori which is a very narrow street but packed with vibrancy. Fashion boutiques are in abundance and you have several places to eat and drink but if you like tranquility then this isn’t the place for you. However, if you are new to Harajuku and want to feel the energy of teenage fashion and young adults, then a visit to Takeshita-dori is a must.
Yet true to the nature of the entire area the fashion scene changes rapidly. Therefore, from walking down from the top of the main street from the Harajuku Yamanote train side and all the way to Omotesando which is connected with Harajuku by the same long street, then another fashion world will open.
This applies to famous international and Japanese boutiques and you have so many elegant and exquisite fashion companies to visit. The further you walk down and meet the Omotesando area then virtually every single boutique will be plush, exquisite and extremely sophisticated. Also, the elegant and enchanting Aoyama area is only around the corner.
However, just like the Takeshita-dori area and the main street which connects Harajuku and Omotesando are different worlds of fashion, the same also applies to the back streets of Harajuku and Omotesando. Therefore, it is vital to browse around the backstreets of both areas and the district which you need to walk through in order to reach Shibuya is awash with lovely fashion.
Boutiques in the backstreets cater for different styles and you also have sophisticated companies mixed together with independent boutiques. However, in the back streets you can relax and visit fashion companies which cater for street fashion, kawaii culture, Lolita fashion, and a plethora of styles. Also, because of the nature of the backstreets then often you will see a new company by chance and this makes the entire area so fascinating.
Ometesando Hills shopping complex is certainly worth a visit because the fashion boutiques inside are stunning and this applies to Japanese and international fashion. A partial list of exquisite boutiques inside Omotesando Hills includes Adore, Anterpima, Apartment Department, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, iliann leob, Kiwa Sylphy, Martinique Le Conte, Milly, Tiara, Oriental News, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro) Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Tracy Reese, Yves Saint Laurent, and Zara.
However, please visit the http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/ Omotesando Hills website because you have so many other stylish and elegant boutiques in this stunning shopping mall. Also, the architecture and lighting inside the building creates a lovely feel and you have many other types of stores like Createur Reveal (nail salon), hair make Pas de deux (hair salon), le bois (spa and beauty treatment), M.A.C. (cosmetics), and shu uemura beauty boutique (cosmetics).
Inside Omotesando Hills you also have many places to wine and dine and throughout Harajuku and Omotesando you will find many restaurants, bars, and café shops to enjoy and compliment your visit.
Turning back to the Meiji Jingu shrine this Shinto place of worship reminds you of the real nature of life. Also, the enormous Torii gate is a reminder of your own individual mortality because of its strength and size compared with mere mortals. Also, unlike people who share fleeting moments, this tower of strength will remain.
In this sense, the fashion area and the most grandeur Shinto shrine in Tokyo make perfect sense, with regards to sharing the same environment. This applies to the spiritual nature of people and the power of nature within our world. At the same time, exquisite fashion and new trends is a reminder of vitality, creativity, freedom, joy, escapism, feel good factor, love of fashion and other aspects which will apply to individuals differently.
Harajuku and the surrounding area which encompasses Aoyama, Omotesando Hills and Shibuya is a clear indicator of the richness of Japanese culture and the power of Tokyo. The Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine and fashion districts of Harajuku and Omotesando work perfectly alongside relaxing in Yoyogi Park. This is because each area is a jigsaw piece which collectively creates a special and exclusive environment.
http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/ Meiji Jingu Shrine
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3006.html Meiji Jingu and other tourist information
http://www.japanforum.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=2 (Harajuku fashion)
http://sebastianz.jugem.jp/?eid=508 (personal blog of Sebastian Masuda)
http://www.dokidoki6.com/ (Please visit this fashion website of 6%Dokidoki)
http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/ Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall
Partial list of stores in Omotesando Hills