Friday, October 14, 2016

Getting Lost in Harajuku (Emma)

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to focus on for this blog. Was I going to talk about the Gyoza shop that I can’t stay away from, or the coffee shop near my campus that is always there to give me a caffeine boost? However, as I began making plans for this weekend I realized that there is one place I’ve frequented more than any other: Takeshita Dori.
Takeshita Dori
Harajuku was definitely one of the things I looked forward to before coming to Japan.  In many ways it’s different than what I expected, but every time I visit I find more things that I want to look at and explore. Just people watching is an experience of it’s own, and finding a spot at a cafe and looking out the windows could entertain me for hours.

As the youth fashion district, a lot of the shops are primarily for clothing and accessories, many of them promoting very cute and pastel colored items.  The ‘shoujo aesthetic’ is very apparent, and as a shopping district the whole area is dedicated to young consumers. Most of the shops are on Takeshita Dori, but there are many winding side roads teeming with local shops and restaurants.
A look inside...
One of the stores that I’ve found myself frequenting is a small sticker shop called B-Side Label. While I was originally drawn in by the walls upon walls of stickers, I keep coming back because the staff are always so nice. This store was one of the first places in which I’ve had an extensive conversation in Japanese with someone I didn’t know. After returning and having the same staff members recognize me and continuing to engage in conversation, I’ve made an effort to stop by whenever I’m in the area. The fact that they have a whole line of stickers just for Halloween certainly has not kept me away.
Stickers upon stickers.
Harajuku is also a destination for those who want to show off their coordinated outfits, and underground fashion styles. While I haven’t been too adventurous, I have found the experience of walking around in a wig and stylized outfit to be much more rewarding. Dressing up, you can feel much more like a participant than just an observer. This may also be because as a white person going to Harajuku, usually people assume you are just a tourist and can speak limited or no Japanese. Dressing up usually lessens that assumption, and I’ve had more interactions with people when I dress to match the Harajuku vibe. It is one of the few places I’ve been where I’ve had conversations with people outside of my school, and mastering an area has really made me feel like I live in Tokyo.


Millie Fan said...

Oh, that's Tokyo!!! There are lots of cute, pinky stores for girls T.T I also saw your post on Instagram, you are adorable with that dressing. I will definitely visit this street when I come to Tokyo, give me some recommendations please !

Hannah said...

I saw the Instagram photo too, it was super cute! The dressing up is similar to the culture at Universal Studios Japan; maybe because it's October, but almost everyone was dressed in various costumes (so... many... Waldos...), and if I wasn't dressed like a black cat with my speaking partner, I definitely would have felt more like an outsider.

Ethan Rosa said...

Harajuku looks so cool, its one of the places I really want to go to when I go to Tokyo. Also, I definitely have places like the sticker shop where I return to because people are friendly and I feel like I can have a decent conversation.