When Gwen Stefani was doing that holla back thing, she came up with the idea of having a four Harajuku style inspired back up dancer to make it more pop. The rest of the planet agrees on how original the fashion and the idea is, but the truth is her kind of branding has somehow stereotypes and belittle the real creed of the young and the restless of Harajuku Street.
Harajuku is mostly renowned for its nonconforming youth style and can be consider as Japan’s most fashionable area. Many known and budding designers all throughout the world usually pay a visit for the much needed inspiration and eventually inject some of their own to create a brand. Its place where most internet sites will tell you to spend your Sunday if your hunting for Gothic Lolita, Cosplayers and Visual Kei. Unfortunately, after the March 11 earthquake there has been a considerable decline of such identity-morphing teenagers and I was able to see only a few of them (maybe they move to different location?).
Right across the Harajuku station is Takeshita Dori which is the main hub of teenyboppers. Its a pedestrian-only street lined with shops, crepe stands and convenient stores. Here you can buy a complete costume of your desire in case you want to be a cosplayer, a silly misspelled t-shirt for souvenir and all items that is cute and definitely Japanese (Doraemon socks, anyone?). One popular store is the Daiso 100 Yen shop, were you can buy kitchen wares-stationery-toiletries for obvously 100 yen or so.
Few minutes walk from Takeshita Dori is Ometosando. A kilometer long, tree lined avenue that caters for the spending needs of those brand conscious individuals (or should I say 30 and above and rich?). All the world known upper market shops are here and the busiest is Louis Vuitton (don’t know what is the obsession but it seems to me that mot Japanese are carrying LV bag). If you get tired with all the spending and people watching, head to Ukiyo-E Ota Memorial Museum of Art to see some of the best authentic Japanses woodblock painting.
There is a misconception that once you enter Japan, you will see Anime-clad individuals everywhere.The truth is they are dress up just as normal as anyone around the world. The costume playing happens only during weekend as a stress release for all the trouble associated with weekdays. Who can blame them? After spending 12 hours a day in the office, maybe one of these weekend I will visit Harajuku again and dress up as Sailor Moon.