I am fascinated by cosplay and an individual’s ability to portray their imagination in fashion. A couple of years ago I attended the Cherry Blossom festival in Philadelphia and amidst all the white and pale pink blooms I watched as a group of Lolitas enjoyed tea under the curtain of petals. Since then I have been fascinated by this subculture which goes beyond dressing up for different occasions.
If there is a place that is known for fashion, cosplay, hello kitty memorabilia and overall cool characters is the Harajuku neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan. Not only it is a mecca for teens and shopaholics, it is an interesting part of Japan’s culture, a place that allows people to break away from the norm.
Upon returning to Tokyo from Matsumoto, I thought It was only fitting that I would visit Harajuku on my way to Meiji shrine and get a glimpse of what it is all about.
Unfortunately, summer in Japan is smoldering hot and the Japanese are particularly fond of pristine white skins, so even going to Harajuku on Sunday, a day in which it is supposedly easier to spot the different groups in the neighborhood, I wasn’t able to spot many people dressed up. It was so incredibly hot that I ended up going into Forever21 and buying a shirt to change into- mine was soaked with sweat.
Nevertheless, trying a crepe in Harajuku and browsing all the stores was a lot of fun.
In Harajuku you can shop to your heart’s content. There is even an used Kimono shop that is a cheap way of bringing an original home that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If Kimonos are not your thing, there were plenty of specialty stores for gifts as well. To finish it off, why not try your hand and exercise your creativity and build your own Pino?- marshmallows dipped in chocolate and decorated based on your preference, a big hit with the crowd in Japan.
And if Japan is a nation of savers, the next generation, the teens of Harajuku are way different. I saw consumerism at an all time high, similar to teen consumerism in the US. Maybe that behavior changes with age or maybe, we are witnessing a big change in Japan’s economy… I wonder what it will look like in next 10 years.
Have you been to Harajuku? What was your impression?