Postcards From Tokyo: Harajuku – Part 1

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Harajuku is probably the most Kawaii place on earth. But cuteness aside, it has much more to offer other than gazing at the Harajuku teenagers. It’s a lovely neighborhood full of amazing street food, a great food market as well as fine dining restaurants; a paradise for vintage clothing lovers and fashion in general; for anything quirky, bizarre and fun. It’s also probably the best place for people watching. You can also find some historical Japanese cultural sights – one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine, is located on the other side of the Harajuku train station, as well as the large green and beautiful Yoyogi Park.

Getting here is pretty easy – the neighborhood is located between Shinjuku and Shibuya and Takeishita Dori is literally right at the Harajuku train station exit. Just take the Yamanote Line and get down at the JR Harajuku Station, or if you’re already in Shibuya, it’s about a 15-20 minutes walk.

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There’s always something to see in Harajuku, a fact that made me go back here three times during my two week trip to Tokyo.

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The first thing we did after arriving at Harajuku train station is to head out towards Meiji Shrine. Since the stores in Takeshita Dori are open at around 11:00-12:00 it only made sense to take a couple of hours to visit the Meiji Shrine. There’s a long walk through the gardens before arriving to the shrine area, so bring comfortable shoes.

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After that walk your way through Takeishita Dori, a narrow street crammed with stores and crepes. Many, many, huge crepes. Get ready for a crowd, especially if you come on Sunday (and you should!) – it can sometimes be pretty challenging to navigate through the throngs of people.

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There are a lot of stores for you to find great souvenirs.

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And if you’re a socks lover, you guaranteed to come across some unique pairs.

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Don’t miss a visit to the large Daiso store on Takeishita Dori street. It is one of the largest ¥100 stores in Tokyo where you can find snacks, stationary, kitchen and bath utensils, cosmetics, toys and so much more. I stacked on some cheap snacks and many other bits and pieces. Don’t let the long lines near the cashiers frighten you. They are so efficient it makes the queue go by so fast!

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After Takeishita Dori, It’s time to venture towards Meiji street, full of boutiques and toys stores. It’s also home to Moshi Moshi Box – the Harajuku Visitor Center, where you can get tourist information, buy quirky gifts for your friends and even try out genuine karaoke for free!

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For all of you fashion lovers, these stores on Meiji street are a must:

Bubbles – even if you’re not going to buy anything here, c’mon just look at all of this cuteness.

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Kinji – It’s probably one of my favorite second hand stores, and I’ve been to quite a few. It’s huge, perfectly organized, reasonably priced and I didn’t leave empty handed.

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Wego – Youthful clothing brand with some peculiar items.

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La Foret – The creme de la cream. 7 floors packed with the hottest and most innovative designers. On the second floor you can find Good Meal Market with some cool and tasty options for a quick bite.

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We grabbed a small bite from And The Friet. They have a cool concept and it tastes very nice, but pretty expensive for what you get.

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If you’re a street food market lover, like me, you’re going to love Commune 246. Commune 246 has a great vibe. With beautiful people and great music – this is the perfect way to spend a  Sunday afternoon. Visit my Commune 246 post to find out what goodies await you there.

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For our post-lunch coffee, we visited of the most hyped coffee places in Tokyo – Omotesando Koffee. Omotesando Koffee started as a pop-up shop for one year, and continued to serve for another four. Unfortunately they had to close down due to renovation of their old building. On their site they say they are opening a new shop in Hong Kong early 2016, and hoping to open another shop in Omotesando area in the future. Let’s hope so because their coffee is really great! We had to queue for a bit but their iced baileys cappuccino was well worth it.

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Personally I like better the fashion stores off Takeishita Dori, rather than those on it. These small alleys are full of some of the most amazing vintage and second hand stores I’ve ever seen. Most of the stores are priced very reasonably so I made sure to fill up a few shopping bags here as well.

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Some of my favorites:

Santa Monica

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Jumble Store

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One store you shouldn’t miss is B-Side Label – a cool sticker shop with some amazing designs in all styles, sizes and shapes. The staff is super nice! When we were there they handed a free sticker to tourists who bought something.

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This is not the end though! The next part will include our following days in Harajuku, including a map all the locations mentioned here and in the following post. Stay tuned 😀

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