HarajukuHarajuku, the common name for the area around Harajuku Station, between Shinjuku and Shibuya. Local landmarks include the headquarters of NHK, Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park.

It is a wild and crazy place best seen on a Sunday or any other holiday for that matter. It is located just 1 station north of Shibuya and some consider it to be the extion of Shibuya. You may be suprised to find teen dressing up in cosplay, anime, or other gothic type costumes right out side the station or street performers acting out for a little extra money. The area known as "Ura-Hara" (back streets of Harajuku) is a center of Japanese fashion for younger people, with brands such as Bathing ape and Undercover having shops in the area. Harajuku street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Fruits. Harajuku offers a means as a city center to various other locations and is a must see.

Harajuku refers to the sector around the station of Harajuku in Tokyo, a station north to Shibuya on the Yamanote line. It is Japan's center of most extreme teenage cultures and mode, but also offers shopping spot for adults and historic sight.

The focal point of Harajuku's teenagers culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.

Japanese are still great west trends consumers, so when you hang around the boutiques of Takeshita street in Harajuku you'll in big chance see many teenagers wearing mod clothes. Harajuku is a Vatican for artists, freedom spirits, and burgeoning fashion trends that provides a space of free expression from the conservative Japanese culture. But Japanese fashion has no doubt to make a one step further, dressing-up in costume is seen as a main idea of fashions, so no-one will bat an eyelid at a nice and beautiful girl wearing a plastic fried egg round her neck as a fashion statement.

One nice thing about Japanese and their Harajuku fashion, is that it's not a matter of shops and brands (like Gap) instructing what people wear, but teenagers instracting what the shops will start selling.

Nowadays there are many clothes and websites which sell harajuku fashion and lolita fashion, but the spirit of this japanese style has come up from teenagers not being in deeep confusion to customise and accessorise their own clothes, and to wear crazy outfits with a sense of humour to retaliate against social expectations of nice clothes, nice jobs, nice attitudes.

In order to feel the culture of the teenage at its more extreme, come to visit Harajuku on Sunday, when many young people meet around the station of Harajuku and engage in cosplay (“costume play”), dressed up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk musicians, etc.

Stores, cafes and the restaurants for all ages are found along Omotesando, a broad, tree lined avenue, sometimes indicated under the name of Champions-Elysees of Tokyo. The hills of Omotesando, a recently opened complex of stores along the avenue, had attracted huge attention.

However, Harajuku is not only about teenage culture and shopping. Meiji Dori, one of the principal shrine of Tokyo, is located just at the west of the railway ways in a large green oasis divided with the Yoyogi Park, a roomy public park. Beautiful paintings of ukiyo-e are performed in the small Ota Memorial Museum of Art.

Harajuku is now internationally famous, that's why anyone wearing harajuku style being photographed as much as the London punks who hang out in Trafalgar Square in tartan trousers and mohicans, waiting get paid by tourists to pose for photos. And that's no problem? When you're a punk you have fewer job options because of the extremity of your dress code, and however you have to make money.

If you decided to harajuku style you are required to be full dedicated. It is only as serious as you expect it to be. You may prefer not having a regular job or attending school and be fully dedicated into the band scene, but essentially the look of harajuku style is based on clothes and make-up which can be removed as you want, so it is extremely ok if you want to be a part-time Harajuku girl Punks with mohicans and piercings have to be punk (to some degree) all the time, but teenagers who harajuku-style, no matter they are boys or girls can wear ordinary outfits then dress up harajuku-style at the weekend. Pure pop fashion, but achieve a lot of fun!

For Japanese youth culture "cool” and “nice” - Harajuku, northern Shibuya, is the number one central of mode, recreation, maniac, ridiculous and crazy "crib" to "chill out". Come on Sunday and you'll watch them all!

Anyone who makes it to Harajuku is in for a treat because the fashions are unbelievable. Like Camden in London, but a lot more weird. In 2001, believe it or not, the look was like the Amish folk in the Harrison Ford film 'Witness'. In 2002, the look was grunge for the boys and Lolita Goth (also known as Goth Lolita, GothLoli, Gosurori and Loli-Goth) for the girls.

Lolita fashion is a style of dress that originated in Japan. Lolita is inspired by the clothing of Victorian women and children. It often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. Other influences include goth style, horror movies, the punk subculture and anime characters.

Harajuku burst the first time on the scene in 1964 - the Olympic year. The Olympic gymnasium and the village being located very close, the prospect for meeting someone famous in the street attracted many people attention. Today, the sector includes the Takshita Street, The Avenue of Meiji Dori and The Aavenue of Omotesando Dori.

The Takeshita Dori Street is opposite to Takeshita Dori Exit of Harajuku Station. Here, the stores sell the most extraordinary mixture of the goods reflecting the Japanese concepts of “nice”, “cool and American” and "rebellious and British". In other words a strange mixture of Hello Kitty, hip-hop and infamous British punk. As for the customers? Well, any shape of fancy dress accepted.

Turn right at the bottom of Takshita Dori Street, walk along Avenue of Meiji Dori as far crossroads, then turn left into avenue of Omotesando Dori. Sunday, the avenue of Omotesando Dori is fulled with street performers. Look out for the resident Rockerbilly Band.

Timing is certainly amiss, but quiffs rise high. Thus as well as the two men in the costumes which lose the major part of their day speaking with pink rabbits, it is certainly a curiosity. At the end of the avenue of Omotesando Dori, you will find Aoyama, an elegant sector full with the expensive stores and boutiques.

For however more street performance on sunday head up to Yoyogi park. It's near Harajuku station. The plaza of NHK broadcasting is across it. You'll be in Shibuya only five minutes
walking over the plaza.

Harajuku became famous in the Eighties due to a great number of street performers and an extravagant dressed teenagers who crowded there on Sunday when Omotesando traffic was closed. This led to the vibrant “Hokoten Band Scene”. This was stopped at the end of the Nineties and of the number of performers, visual Kei fans, rockabilly dancers and punks firmly decreased since.

Harajuku is as much a mythical entity as it is ground Zero for Tokyo street style; its mysterious borders blend with nearby, upmarket Aoyama and bustling Shibuya. Here, in its tangled back alleys, lives the New Japan where left-wing artistic types mix with fashion-conscious teenagers in one oxymoronic mélange of youth culture. Meanwhile, the beau monde fights for turf on Omotesando— a concrete catwalk and Tokyo’s Champs Elysées—as creatives toil away in the quiet back streets of Aoyama and sports enthusiasts take in a game on the grounds of Meiji Jingu’s Outer Gardens.

Today on Sunday one can see many Gothic Lolita also many foreign tourists taking photograph of them on the way to Meiji Srine. Some tourists are astonished to see so great exposure of the Japanese youth dressed in often shocking outfits. Close to the train station there is Meiji Shrine, which is a popular attraction of tourists, just like the Yoyogi Park.

Also close to the Takeshita Street, a street furnished with the shops of mode and the various goods, mostly for young teenagers, and Omotesando, a very long street with the coffees and the upscale mode boutiques, popular with residents and tourists.

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Harajuku Girls

HarajukuHarajuku girls, used to identify girls who gather in Harajuku district, Tokyo, Japan. Their costumes is in several different styles of clothing that originated in the culture of Japan's major cities.

The term is not only monopolized by those who gather in the district themselves, but has become a relatively popular expression in the United States. Popular use originated from the American singer Gwen Stefani's 2004 Love.Angel.Music.Baby album, which brought attention to Stefani's entourage of four supposed "Harajuku Girls" who were hired to portray the look, three of whom are Japanese and one of whom is Japanese American. These "Harajuku Girls" are not in fact the fashion aficionados or the home sewing hobbyists from whence they derive their name.

HarajukuHarajukuHarajuku is a popular iconic placed in the world of entertainment, inside and outside of Japan. It was said that the girls of Harajuku are “beauty stars of Japan”. The American singer Gwen Stefani puts Harajuku reference in several of her songs and incorporated four female dancers, appointed under the name of “love,” “angel,” “music,” and “baby,” dressed like girls with Americanised Harajuku, as her background act.

HarajukuHarajukuA song is devoted to them on the album which she called after them, entitled of the “Harajuku Girls” and the word “??” (Harajuku) is depicted on the surface of stage during her music video for the Hollaback Girl. In her songs, Stefani mispronounces the word Harajuku. Instead of the Japanese pronunciation, Stefani spells “hair-ajuku,” although the Japanese loudspeakers on its album pronounce the word correctly. Her use--which critics call her appropriation--of Harajuku girls and Harajuku fashion was criticized by a certain number of Asian-Americans, in particular Margaret Cho, to perpetuate stereotypes of the flexible Asian women.

HarajukuHarajukuAccording to the Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Blender magazine, American comedian Margaret Cho has labeled Stefani's Harajuku Girls a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women. [1]. The Harajuku Girls have continued to appear alongside Stefani in the media, and are featured in the music video for "Wind It Up" (2006). If you search the term Harajuku girls in internet, most probably you will find Gwen Stefani name also as the search results.

HarajukuGwen Stefani, singer principal of the pop band No Doubt, has lead Madonna-esque fashion revolt in both her recent video clip for her single What You Awaiting For and her solo album Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Its involving in 80’s inspired popish tunes, platinum blonde hair and Like A Virgin kit outside the art cover of album reinforce her homage to the material girl, though it can be slightly language in the cheek. In 2006, Stefani launched a second clothing line, called the “Harajuku lovers,” she said it is inspired by the zone of Harajuku in Japan. But its her references to the girls of Japanese Harajuku peppered in all the album and on a way in particular which drew the interest from a various range of te commentators. However who are these Harajuku Girls?

HarajukuThe Harajuku District of Tokyo and in particular street of Takeshita, a narrow street furnished with the stores is the brilliant house for these fashionistas. Since the end of the Second World War, the “consumerism” and “consumption” are becoming national past-time for most Japanese and in particular to teenager girls who often live at the house with their parents well until their twenties. Their free existence of rent provides them enough funds to gather at Harajuku each weekend, where they transform themselves into baby doll of Lolita-esque caracitures. Of course it is an extreme-pretty combination of dressing, but however you will find kind of oase of japanese dress besides their ordinary-working-day dress which is everything is very ordered and conservative.

HarajukuHarajukuVarious fashion styles is available among the girls who spend time in Harajuku, including Gothic Lolita, Gothic Maid, Wamono, Decora, Second-Hand Fashion, and cyber fashion. The Japanese street fashion magazine, FRUiTS, features many of the varied clothing styles that are popular in the Harajuku district. They wear fake blood and bandages, and dark outfits often combined with traditional Japanese clothing (kimonos, fans) and modern Japanese symbols (hello kitties, cell phones, photo stickers). What drives these girls to dress in such outrageous outfits in a weekly ceremony that lasts only a few hours? Is there a really great bordem in Japanese society so this is one of their way to release all of those bordem?

HarajukuHarajukuSome of the answers are more immediately visible. For example, we know some of them are imitating rock bands such as Japan X. However, as with all cultural symbols, there are likely to be deeper reasons beyond fashion. The weekly play allows them to temporarily escape, within a group, all of the rules of Japanese society. It gives them individuality not as easily expressible while in their weekday school uniforms, it gives them a voice to express, often in very sexual ways (with ripped stockings, garters, and mini-skirts, etc.), the oppression of the female gender in the largely male dominated Japanese society.

HarajukuIt is whole kind of a pop-art meets pop-culture meets decadence kinda street where oWesternften a t-shirt with a western image like Mickey Mouse can go for several hundreds of dollars a noise. This constant continuation of rock n roll pop star hipness is prolonged with the boys of teenager too. They turn to choose western inspired hip-hop culture of disheveled jeans hanging halfway to their knees, of the hats to all the angles on their heads and surely many, many, many of blings.

HarajukuSo often, the net result resembles something out of a comic book of Manga while the fashionistas of Harajuku compete to look less human and more iconic. Not pay attention to what we in the west may see like a conflict of fashion above substance, girls of Harajuku is different to Goths, punks and bond girls which became trends previously, is not about rebellion to the society. It is just a crazy-extreme-freedom expression of dressing in certain day (sunday), free from those ordinary dress which requires them to dress "politely, nice, and good looking".

HarajukuHarajukuHarajuku Girls just like most Japanese, are often extremely polite and happy to pose for photographs with the curious tourists who flock each Sunday to take the happy snap of these caricatures of super-model. Just ask them for a photograph nicely, they will do that happilly. And as a gratitude you can offer them something, ussualy they won't ask something out of your reach. For the girls of Harajuku, their most extreme request can be a simple cigarette.

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Laforet Harajuku

HarajukuLaforet Harajuku (Rafore Harajuku) is a department store and museum located in the Harajuku commercial and entertainment district of the Shibuya neighborhood, in Tokyo, Japan, on one of Harajuku's most famous intersections.

Its museum is on sixth floor and HMV in the basement. Laforet Harajuku used to be called the teen fashion mecca. It is a trend setting shopping complex, consisting of seven floors of fashion boutiques and shops, mainly geared towards girls audience.

Laforet Harajuku, a building packed with fashion boutiques, is a local landmark, while Ura Harajuku (Backstreet Harajuku), or "Urahara" for short, used to be a quiet residential area but became a hub for young designers in the 1990s. Most girls will enter this store, since it serves the ultimate trends in Japanese fashion. Be warned, as this place is really wacky and may not appeal to Western style clothing. Laforet is known for its big summer bargain sales in July and for striving to be on the cutting edge of fashion by having the exterior of the building constantly remodeled. The reference to "underground malls" in Gwen Stefani's "Harajuku Girls" may be to Laforet, which has an extensive underground shopping arcade.

The building of Laforet Harajuku curved form resembles a glowering fortress clad in aluminum siding. On the southernmost corner, a turret rises and supports a huge sign bearing the building's name. This sign is noteworthy because of how the word "Laforet" makes its way around in a circle. Instead of the illuminated letters moving, the core of the cylinder is lit up, and a cut-out stencil on a stainless steel ring turns around it. Visually, it's less obvious than the usual neon and LED signs that populate most of Tokyo's major crossings, but its unique form encourages the eye to linger, trying to figure out how it works, before moving on.

Another unusual feature of this building are its many half-floors. Usually reserved for structures like parking garages, part of this building is vertically offset, creating a rather confusing layout for the first time visitor. Because of this irregularity, there are ten floors above ground, even though they are labeled 1 through 6. That's because there is a 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and a 4.5 floor. Below ground is even more confusing, where the levels are B0.5, B1, and B1.5. In some strange way, though, this layout actually works because Laforet isn't put together as a single cohesive shopping experience. Rather, it's like a vertical bazaar with dozens of individual stalls independent of each other.

It is a fashion and cultural landmark and the launching pad for the latest Japanese fashion trends. Apparel brands, creators and artists vie for the mark of distinction that “Launched at Laforet” provides. More than just a retail space, Laforet Harajuku includes the fully integrated Laforet Museum exhibition space, where new movements in Harajuku art and culture are born. The commercial know-how we have built up at Laforet has been put to work in VenusFort, Roppongi Hills, and Omotesando Hills. Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood is the epicenter of all that in trendy in Japan. The nexus of that culture is the crossing of Meiji Dori and Omotesando Dori. The roads intersect on a slight hill, and the most prominent position on that hill is held by the rounded fortress known as Laforet Harajuku.

Laforet Harajuku is so often viewed as the origin of Tokyo's street and youth culture. Located at the center of Harajuku for more than 20 years, it broadcasts to the teen mass the latest in trendy fashion and hosts regular art events. Since its opening, Laforet Museum has hosted a wide range of events and exhibitions offering visitors opportunities to enjoy art and entertainment that transcend genre. The variety of cultural experiences provided by Laforet Museum has impacted significantly on the era, the city, and the people. There can be no doubt that Laforet Museum will continue to encourage new movements for new eras.

Since its phenomenally successful debut in 1978, it has been always a face of Harajuku because of their cool sense. Recently they use Nagi Noda as their art director. Laforet Harajuku shopping center and museum has established itself as the preeminent source of new fashion and culture in Tokyo's most fashionable district. In tandem with the provision of cutting-edge fashion information, Laforet Harajuku has assisted the development and future success of young fashion designers and entrepreneurs by providing them with exposure through various promotional events. Mori Building is now expanding the Laforet Harajuku concept to Matsuyama, Kokura, Niigata, and other cities throughout Japan.

Laforet Harajuku has had their renewal opening on August 25th 2006. With this renewal, 21 new shops and 23 shops were renewed. Both a men’s and women’s store have been lined up in this fashion building and is now aiming to be a place where creativity can be released. This is the first time for Laforet Harajuku to be renovated since their opening in 1978. The building is located in an area that is of walking distance from the now famous Omotesando Hills, and with increasing consumers in older age segments, this renewal came in hand with increasing their target consumers.

Laforet Harajuku 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3475-0411. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.

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Harajuku Style

HarajukuHarajuku fashion gets its name from the Harajuku district of Tokyo. All the switched-on harajuku kids go there to explore the many clothes shops and gather Yoyogi Park, the cafes in Omotesando Street or on the way to the Meiji shrine to display their latest harajuku creations for tourists as well as for their friends.

Harajuku style has been so popular since Gwen Stefani released her single Harajuku Girl, but of course Harajuku style is not Gwen Stefani’s idea and she is the one who started it. Harajuku style originated among teenagers style in Harajuku district, Tokyo. As many teenagers street fashion style, it is so hard to make a clear definition of this style because of its dynamic and many manifestations. There is no main pattern of this style, but if you want to dress Harajuku style, just read this article until finished.

Harajuku became famous in the 1980s due to the street performers and wildly-dressed teens who gathered there on Sundays when Omotesando was closed to traffic. Omotesando is a very long street with cafes and upscale fashion boutiques popular with residents and tourists alike. Once it became pedestrianised on sundays it was the perfect place to meet, play music and show off! Having a regular meeting place for art, conversation and performance gave rise to the vibrant Hokoten band scene. This was stopped at the end of the 1990s and the number of performers, Visual Kei fans, rockabilly dancers and punks has steadily decreased since. Today on Sundays one can see many Gothic Lolita as well as many foreign tourists taking pictures of them on the way to Meiji Shrine. Some tourists are surprised to see such a large exhibition of Japanese youth dressed up in often shocking outfits.

First of all, you should quit your loyalty of any brand. If you are some brands freak as Gucci or Calvin, it is so obvious that Harajuku style is not for you, but it’s still ok if you want to mix those brands product with a style of your own, since Harajuku is all about creating your own style. If you keep maintaining the original style of those brands or trying to look like a fashion model in magazine fashion, surely you will look so stylish, but you are not Harajuku. Secondhand clothing and do-it-yourself styles are popular ingredients in a Harajuku clothes.

Then you need to mix and (mis)match different fashions. Sure, you like matching those solid blue jeans with your favorite shirt, but try layer tees under 1 sleeve shirt with lots of different colors. What is now known as Harajuku style started as teens in the district began to integrate traditional Japanese attire, especially kimonos and get a sandal, into their dress. Before, they wore primarily clothes that were influenced by the West, but by mixing the traditional with the modern they created a new style. Other examples of mixing and matching including the punk look with the schoolgirl uniform or a gothic look with designer clothes. In Harajuku, mixing different styles and mismatching colors and patterns is encouraged--you can do anything you want!

Exploring costumes is also a must. It is not all Harajuku style is theatrical, but certain costumes, such as schoolgirl and maid costumes are popular. Costume elements are typically worn in combination with other styles. After that, you need to wear whatever looks good to you. It's been said that the Harajuku style is not really a protest against mainstream fashion and commercialism (as punk was), but rather a way of dressing in whatever looks good to you. If you think mismatched rainbow and polka-dot leggings look good with a plaid dress, go for it.

Customizing your clothes is a very good option to choose. Like that flowered skirt, but think it would look cuter with a ribbon pinned on it or with a more uneven, angular hemline? Get out the scissors and glue and make your store-bought clothes uniquely yours. Or, go even further and make your own skirt. Cutting the fabric to create bold angles and lines can make even a plain black dress appear remarkable and fun. Dressing in layers is the best addition and the role pattern. One of the hallmarks of Harajuku is layering. Sweaters, vests, or jackets over blouses over t-shirts; dresses worn with leggings: layering clothes (or giving the appearance of layering, by wearing ruffled dresses, for example) allows you to mix and match more different styles, and adds more dimension to your outfit.

Using accessories is needed. Legwarmers, leggings, lots of pearls, layered hats, arm warmers, stripy stockings, polka dotted pantyhose, ties, large necklaces, ear warmers and so much more. Make it shnazzy. Add any wild accessories you have, such as belts, earrings, hair clips, jewelry, and handbags. Remember, accessories can be colorful and loud," and they don't have to match your clothes. Speaking of loud, in decora, a particular Harajuku style, accessories embellish an outfit from head to toe, and objects such as bells are sometimes used to add an aural dimension to the wardrobe.

You have to do doll-like makeup, but again, don't overdo it. No really bright lipcolor, but bold eyeliner (liquid, on top of eyelids) works well. Prep up your hair. Those cute Asian girlies from Harajuku usually wear bangs, high, short pigtails, and short bobs. Go for colored hair. A light pink is hot, and bold. Or rainbowish, whatever, Hair clips do the job. 5 or six! Wear platforms. The clunkier, the better. Japanese street style is about individuality -- not just piling on tons of layers, colored hair and makeup. Japan's street style changes as quickly as the days. Look to style mags: Fruits, Street and Tune, for inspiration, or check other fashion magazines at your local Asian neighborhood. Kinokuniya bookstore has a great selection, and many locations.

You should understand that Harajuku has many forms and is constantly changing. Gothic Lolita, decora, and wamono are a few of the styles that originated or developed in Harajuku, and many Harajuku girls (and boys) integrate one or more of these somewhat more defined styles into their outfits. It's impossible to pinpoint one "Harajuku style." Also, like all fashions, Harajuku style changes very quickly. It's easy to say that Harajuku is just bright colors, stripes, and leggings, but that's never really been accurate, and next week it may be even less so.

To keep yourself up to date with the style you need to keep up with the evolution of the style by reading publications like FRUiTS and Style-Arena.jp. These publications and others like them offer a wealth of pictures of Harajuku outfits and are updated weekly or monthly. If you want to dress in Harajuku style, looking at pictures is a good way to get inspired. Don't forget your hair and makeup. The wild Harajuku style doesn't have to stop with your clothes. Pigtails and other "cute" hairstyles are particularly popular, as is dying your hair. Creative, even theatrical makeup can be a fun addition.

Try not to shop at "prep" places or shops that tend to be more popular. The colors are likely to be muted, as well as the shoes. The best places to shop would be small stores, or stores that sell other Japanese things. Remember that there are specific types of street styles in Japan, like Ganguro, and Harajuku-like. There is no certain way to dress this way, you need to see Japan to believe it, and be unique at it. So the conclusion how to dress Harajuku style is be creative, be theatrical, mix and match, look cute, have a sense of humor, be confident wearing clothes that mix genres and influences, be confident wearing clothes that have weird shapes, if you go for bright colors, make sure you have unusual, fun contrasts, if you wear make-up, wear it black, be confident in your chosen look, above all, be stylish!

Nothing really compares to, or prepares you for, this scene. Every weekend, usually on Sunday, the freaks and the attention seekers gather in front of Meiji shrine in Harajuku to... well nobody really knows why they gather, not even, it would seem, these 'trend setters'. When asked 'why', the answers are ambiguous, 'it's cool' or 'my friends are here' are what you're likely to hear. Seen in small groups, or (shudder) alone, the effect is almost painfully embarrasing. But in a large group like they've gathered here, somehow you feel like you are the one out of place, that somehow the bars at the zoo have been reversed, and you are the one in the cage. One thing is for sure though, this fad isn't dying out like most fads in Japan do. They've managed to create their own sub culture. You'll always see amateur photographers milling around taking pictures, normal people posing with the groups for a laugh, and most of the time the kids let them, but you get the feeling they'd just rather be left alone so they can be freaks in peace. Japan is a place where everyone is individual - but in groups. If you go to the park on a certain hour every Saturday, you'll see hundreds of boys dressed as rock and rollers, dancing to rock and roll music... very seriously. So it's no surprise that when girls want to display groundbreaking fashions that no-one has ever seen before, they want to do it in the same place, at the same time. And that place is the Harajuku district in Tokyo.

Japan is still very good at consuming trends from the West, so if you walk down the boutiques of Takeshita Street in Harajuku you'll probably see a lot of teenagers wearing mod clothes. Harajuku is a mecca for artists, independent spirits, and burgeoning fashion trends that provide a space of free expression in what is ordinarily a rather conservative Japanese culture. But Japanese fashion isn't afraid to take it one step further... dressing-up in costume is seen as a major element of fashions, so no-one will bat an eyelid at a pretty girl wearing a plastic fried egg round her neck as a fashion statement. The nice thing about Japanese - and Harajuku fashion - is that it's not a case of shops and brands (like Gap) dictating what people wear, but teenagers dictating what the shops will start selling. There are now many clothes and websites that sell Harajuku fashion and lolita fashion, but the spirit of this Japanese style has arisen from teenagers not being afraid to customize and accessorize their own clothes, and to wear crazy outfits with a sense of humor to retaliate against social expectations of straight clothes, straight jobs, straight attitudes.

Harajuku is now very big internationally, so anyone wearing Harajuku style is photographed as much as the London punks who hang out in Trafalgar Square in tartan trousers and mohicans, waiting for tourists to pay them to pose for photos. And why not? When you're a punk you have fewer job options because of the extremity of your dress code, and need to make money somehow. If you're into Harajuku style your dedication to it is only as serious as you want it to be. You may choose not to have a regular job or attend school and be fully into the band scene, but essentially the look of Harajuku style is based on clothes and make-up which can be removed as desired, so if you want to be a part-time Harajuku girl, that's perfectly okay. Punks with mohicans and piercings have to be punk (to some degree) all the time, but Harajuku girls and boys can wear normal clothes then dress up Harajuku-style at the weekend. Pure pop fashion, but so much fun!

Anyone who makes it to Harajuku is in for a treat because the fashions are unbelievable. Like Camden in London, but a lot more weird. In 2001, believe it or not, the look was like the Amish folk in the Harrison Ford film 'Witness'. In 2002, the look was grunge for the boys and Lolita Goth (also known as Goth Lolita, GothLoli, Gosurori and Loli-Goth) for the girls. Lolita fashion is a style of dress that originated in Japan. Lolita is inspired by the clothing of Victorian women and children. It often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. Other influences include gothic style, horror movies, the punk subculture and anime characters.

Harajuku style isn't the only Japanese subculture fashion out there. Some girls are honing down their style to become Classic Lolita or Lolita Goths, who carry gothic teddies and look like stylish Victorian dolls. Lolita fashion is a style of dress that originated in Japan and has deep links with Harajuku fashion, which came out of performers and fashionable teenagers collecting to meet in Tokyo's Harajuku district. Lolita fashion is inspired by the clothing of Victorian women and children. It often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. Other influences include gothic style, horror movies, the punk subculture and anime characters.

Skirts are typically knee length and are worn with a pannier or petticoat to add volume. As in mainstream Japanese fashion, over-knee socks, knee socks or stockings are extremely popular. Frills and other charms are often added to the top of the sock. And white and black tights are also common. Footwear is typically shoes or boots with high heels, though not usually stiletto heels. Platforms with little-girl straps are also worn. Frilly, ruffled, or lace-trimmed Victorian blouses are popular for this style. These blouses often have Peter-Pan collars or sailor collars.

Although westerners might view 'Lolita' fashion as something that tries to be sexual in a weird underage way ("Lolita" is, after all, a reference to Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel), most Lolita Goths and followers of Lolita fashion don't consider it sexual or at least overtly sexual, even if a lot of the girls into Lolita fashion are teens. Lolita followers present themselves as Victorian children or baby dolls and prefer to look cute, beautiful or elegant rather than sexy.

Gothic Lolita, also known as Lolita Goth, GothLoli, Gosurori and Loli-Goth, is a street fashion among Japanese teenagers and young women, although boys and western girls are also getting involved. Lolita Goth is a subcategory of Lolita fashion that emphasizes Victorian-style and Edwardian clothing and often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls, but is sometimes more into the idea of elegance than looking cute and girly, and always has a Goth twist. The typical Lolita Goth or "Gothloli" style originated sometime around 1998 and became more widely available in various boutiques and some major department stores by around 2001.

The popularity of Lolita Goth style peaked around 2004/5 in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, but now it has settled down as one of many 'alternative' youth fashions, although its popularity is still slowly growing. Gothic Lolita was influenced and popularized by the imagery of more feminine Visual Kei (or "visual rock") bands. Visual Kei is a Japanese form of rock music defined by bands featuring performers in elaborate costumes but whose musical style varies.

Mana, the cross dressing former leader and guitarist of the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer is widely credited for having helped popularize Gothic Lolita. He coined the terms "Elegant Gothic Lolita" (EGL) and "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat" (EGA) to describe the style of his own fashion label Moi-même-Moitié, which was founded in 1999 and quickly established itself as one of the most coveted brands of the Gothic Lolita scene. Another popular figure was the singer Kana; who often modeled for Goth Lolita - related fashion magazines.

Gothic Lolita may favor long skirts and jackets to emulate Victorian women rather than overtly child-like designs. They still aim for elegance, but Lolita Goths aren't trying to like children or little victorian dolls. Some Lolita Goth accessories are Lace-trimmed headdresses, Mini-top hats worn to the side, gothic Lolita Intricate old-fashioned jewelery.

Pale complexion, make-up optional but dark eyeliner and lips preferred, Black, blue or red hair is necessary, Ribbon and lace are some good additions, Crinolines and petticoats obviously, Fishnet tights can perfect your style.

Gothloli style is usually a combination of black and white, often black with white lace and typically decorated with ribbons and lace trims. Skirts are knee length and may have a crinoline or petticoat to add volume. As in mainstream Japanese fashion, over-knee socks or stockings are extremely popular. Black fishnet stockings and white or black tights are also common. Shoes or boots with high heels - think platforms rather than stilettos - complete the look. Frilly, ruffled or lace-trimmed Victorian blouses are also popular especially with Elegant Goth Lolita, who may also favor long skirts and jackets rather than the overtly 'childish' designs of the typical Gothloli. Apart from occasionally short skirts, Lolita Goth designs are usually modest, sometimes with long lace-capped sleeves and/or high-necked blouses.

And there's more! Gothic Lolita is ALL about the accessories and the details! Yes, to move on, some additions to your LoliGoth outfit may include an Alice in Wonderland-style apron, tiny top hats, parasols, lace gloves, and lace headpieces. Mostly black or white, headgear might consist of a headband with ruffles, ribbons, lace or bows. Sometimes even bonnets are worn. Hair may be curled to complete the porcelain doll look. The naturally dark Japanese hair color may be lightened to blonde or kept black. Some may choose to wear wigs as well.

Makeup is used sparingly and used more often by Elegant Lolita Goths than with other Gothloli styles. Black eyeliner is typical. A pale complexion is preferred, so white foundation might be used. Red or black lipstick is seen but lighter makeup is the rule.

Gothic Lolita outfits may be accessorized with other props like conspicuous pocketbooks, hatboxes, handbags and other bags, sometimes in the shape of bats, coffins, and crucifixes. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals are also common, and some brands make special gothic teddy bears out of black leather or PVC. Also, many Gothic Lolita own Super Dollfies and carry them around. A Super Dollfie is a ball-jointed doll first manufactured by Volks, a Japanese doll company, and is popular with many subcultural trendsetters, not just Lolita Goths, for its expressive eyes and distinct personality.

Lolita Fashion's crossover with Goth. Gothloli as a fashion is not as strongly associated with a particular style of music or outside interests as Goth, and individual followers of Gothloli fashion may listen to a wide variety of music including regular Japanese pop and Visual Kei. In Japan, Goth is a minor subculture with few followers, partly because the emphasis upon visual identity in Japanese youth culture makes other factors such as music and literature less important signifiers and perhaps partly because Christianity and Germanic culture are not integral parts of society. In Japan, people who have heard the term Goth usually assume that it is simply a contraction of Gothic Lolita, except for the Goths themselves, who strongly emphasize the differences. Likewise, some western observers assume that Gothloli is the Japanese version of Goth, purely on the similarities in fashion. Previously in Tokyo, the largest Goth club events, such as Tokyo Dark Castle, would also attract a noticeable proportion of Lolita Goths. However, since 2005 their numbers have dwindled and such events now primarily attract more typical Goth, industrial and metal music fans. Visual kei concerts are often attended by many Gothloli, but conversely, few Goths.

Gwen Stefani said it, and that settles it, right men? No? What is this Harajuku, and why do its girls have wicked style? Simply put, Harajuku is a neighborhood around Tokyo's Harajuku Station. Because of its innumerable clothing stores, boutiques, and shops catering to the young and super-trendy, Harajuku has for years served as a thriving hangout for teenagers, trendoids, fashion mavens, and cultural fringe-dwellers. The wide Omotesando Avenue used to be closed to auto traffic on the weekends, making it a locus for street performers and other ne'er-do-wells. Though the edge quotient might have dropped once cars came back and the performers thinned out (though they never vanish), the throngs of super-cute teens have, if anything, increased dramatically. Harajuku has in fact developed its own style, ranging from barely restrained Urban Outfitters chic to nutty pastiches of clashing colors and materials. Beyond that, it's even been appropriated as a Stefani-spawned fashion brand unto itself by the product line Harajuku Lovers. And far from getting burned out by the constant turnover, the Harajuku scene feeds on constant reinvention and re-creation, with new shops (and new departments or sub-stores in existing shops) announced most every week. It's nearly impossible to keep up with what's new and hot versus what's already old and busted, but the thrill is all in the pursuit of cute.

Gwen Stefani's recent status as a formidable pop starlet has undeniably been hugely aided by her unorthodox image. Despite the fact that her album is actually quite pleasant, her look is significantly more entertaining. Her attention-grabbing attire and the bizarre entourage that she features in every video and performance have established the Stefani product, and the eccentric approach to fashion she takes has helped mould her music. According to the singer, her individual style supposedly heralds from the Tokyo streets, specifically the Harajuku district of the city. Indeed, throughout her album she repeatedly references the 'Harajuku girls’, from whom she claims to draw inspiration. Honoring them with a ditty on her L.P., Stefani evidently perceives them as unparalleled style champions in the fast-paced world of street fashion.

However, her relish for 'Harajuku' style is somewhat overdue. 'FRUiTS', a subculture magazine in Japan, has been publishing images of Tokyo street style (principally from Harajuku), for just under a decade. Following on from the overwhelming success of the original 'Fruits' collection, Phaidon have just released the second compilation volume of the most outstanding and jaw-dropping images from their library, entitled ‘FRESH FRUiTS’.

Harajuku is an area of Tokyo where the younger generation flood the streets adorned in the most outrageous, unconventional and flamboyant getups. Drawing inspiration from both Eastern and Western designers, they attempt to fuse oriental and Western culture with their own individual style, creating a unique and personal look that challenges classic dress codes and relishes in anything distinct or quirky.

The beautiful thing about Harajuku style is the volume of different inspirations from which the ‘fruits’ image is created, meaning that there exists a massive number of contrasting styles to absorb when considering the ‘fruits’. Although all the Harajuku kids possess a similar group mentality in their anti-establishment approach to clothing, the individual subsets embraced by the ‘fruits’ slogan are often wholly in conflict with one another in terms of style.

I’ve heard people discussing Japanese street style in the past and commenting that the Harajuku fashionista ‘just throw anything on to look different’. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In almost all the images in ‘Fresh Fruits’, there is a significant amount of thought channelled into their attire.

Firstly, it is usually paramount for the ‘fruits’ to have allegiance to one of the strands of the Harajuku dress code before adding their own individual twist to a certain look. These are especially varied and incorporate several distinct elements, ranging from the darker rudiments of punk and Goth, to the charismatic and upbeat colours characterized by cyber and manga imagery. There are several looks unique to the ‘fruits’ style but evidently customized from existing imagery.

The most obvious is the Elegant Gothic Lolita movement. This is perhaps the darkest and most sinister presentation of the ‘fruits’. The EGL’s adorn themselves in the most gothic garb imaginable, including bonnets, lace gloves and heavily lace-trimmed skirts and cardigans. Teetering on up to ten-inch, super-elevated black platforms, the look is often completed by some brooding makeup – heavy eyeliner and purple lips create a formidable and ominous image. Conversely, some attempt to lift their persona to a more childish level by making their faces as white as possible, save for deep, red, blusher and rouge lipstick. Hair is kept neat and tidy, usually in a shoulder-length bob or sometimes in clipped Victorian curls to complete the prim and proper look. The EGL’s accessorize carefully, picking handbags and clutches that will complement their image. Black Vivienne Westwood, Emily Temple or Jane Marple bags and jewellery are usually favoured, in a formal, sensible style to mirror the rest of the outfit (often purchased from EGL favourite Milk). The overall impression is somewhat surreal when this approach has been taken – the finished EGL looks akin to a living Victorian doll. Creep shit.

Working hand-in-hand with this darker subset of Harajuku style are the Japanese punks – inspired by the 70’s movement that savaged London several decades ago. A vision of badges, rips, and leather, these new age oriental rebels are packing serious attitude. In contrast to the delicate elegance of the EGL’s hairstyles, they magnify punk to an extreme level, growing enormous Mohicans dyed vibrant, in-your-face colors, ranging from electric blue to flaming auburn. Dog collars, spiky black cuffs and homemade patches are applied as accessories, along with several chunky, black, studded belts. For most of their garments, they favor non-uniform designers like Sex Pot Revenge. However, Westwood’s bondage trousers and parachute shirt designs are staple pieces in many a Harajuku wardrobe. For the girl-punks, ripped tartan or black skirts are teamed with stripy Marylyn Manson-inspired tights. Chunky Doc Martins are the preferred footwear for both sexes, and with regards to body-adornment, Harajuku punks rarely shirk from multiple facial piercing to amplify that coveted rebellious persona. Despite being closer to the EGL’s than any other Harajuku fashion, they don’t possess any of the dainty chic of the aforementioned group.

Cosplay (costume play) and Decora (one who is decorated) are two styles from the opposite end of the ‘fruits’ fashion spectrum. Furiously colorful, these Harajuku kids are awash in gloriously bright neon. Those choosing the Cosplay style dress up as their favorite cartoon or computer game character, usually donning furry boots, bizarre looking skirts and crazy, out of control spiked hair complete with cyber hairclips and bobbles. The look is principally unisex and the general consensus is the brighter the better. A childish element is once again employed to give the image character. Power Rangers T-shirts, Teletubbies bum-bags and Pokemon rucksacks are all perfect accessories for the Cosplayers, although these can also be used for the Decora style, which is similar in many ways. Think mid-nineties ’Crasha cyber-kid raver and you’re halfway there. They’re the most outrageously flamboyant collection Harajuku have to offer. Head to toe in fluorescent brilliance, they prefer vivacious labels like Cyberdog, Super Lovers and Hysteric Glamour. Accessorizing heavily, the Decora followers add plastic jewelery and toys to their outfits to create noise when they move. This is certainly an interesting concept, despite sounding fiendishly irritating.

Although the diffusion lines of Harajuku style all seem excessively abnormal, they are merely a reaction to the ultra-strict upbringings many of these colorful characters have had in their youth. Dressing up has always been used as a response to establishment conventions and rules – what better way to express discontent than through something as openly accessible as image? Despite falling into separate categories, ‘fruits’ style is still powerfully individual, with each Harajuku kid projecting their own personality into their getup by customizing their look in a particular way.

In our current climate of ‘chav-chic’, bowing out to consumer power houses like Nike has become commonplace for the majority of the nation. Fewer people today think about what they wear and are happy to dress in anything without considering the label they are actually endorsing. ‘Fresh Fruits’ is like fashion medicine, a breath of fresh air for a country burdened by stagnant, lifeless street style. No two pictures are the same and the publication oozes fun and attitude. I find myself wishing we had our own Harajuku. But I have a feeling the streets of England aren’t ready for the Elegant Gothic Lolita invasion just yet. Fresh Fruits is published by Phaidon and is out now.

Harajuku Style, Cosplayers behind the Mask 2006-05-03

Many people go to Harajuku to take photos of cosplayers. It's kind of embarassing to join the crowd all maneuvering for photos of very young girls many of whom resemble various flavors of candy. But the results are so colorful and emblemmatic of this society. I think cosplay mimics the hidden masks that people wear all the time. The cosplayers are not being themselves, but perhaps they come closer to admitting it than others.

If you watch a group of cosplayers in Harajuku, they are relating with each other -- laughing, talking, perhaps crying, discussing life, etc. Being together is a place where they find belonging. But when a photographer comes, they pose. Their faces change. Commonly they assume a dead expression and stare off to stage left (or become super cute and twinkly, evil and leering, and so on). This time I resolved to try and take a few photos that would show the human side of the people that I met. One girl frankly told me that taking a photo of her "unposed" would be "dame" (out of bounds). But generally cosplayers are hanging out waiting to be photographed. So I stood around for awhile and took a few photos like this one. You can see this girl posed in the next image.

By the way, I left the cosplayers and went into Yoyogi Park. I love Yoyogi Park! You'll see why as I post more photos in the coming days. When I was coming back, it occured to me that many tourists and others stop at the bridge and spend all their time gawking at cosplayers, and they never go further. That's a tragedy, because Yoyogi Park beats cosplayers hands down in every category. It's a visual feast, an incredible display of the life and energy of Tokyo, and a musical extravaganza.

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HarajukuWhat's a splendid way to spend a beautiful autumn day in Tokyo? The gorgeous Keyaki tree boulevard of Omotesando, often called the Japanese Champs-Elysees, attracts many nostalgic foreigners. "Omotesando" means "front approach"

Known on the name of Tokyo's Champs-Elysees, Omotesando is a one kilometer long, tree lined avenue, serving as the main approach to Meiji Shrine. Numerous stores, boutiques, cafes and restaurants, including several leading fashion brand shops, stand along the avenue. This avenue conects Jr Harajuku and Aoyama. There always are stream of people in various ages.

It is subway station and neighbourhood in Tokyo stretching from Harajuku station to Aoyama-dori where Omotesando station can be found. Zelkova trees line both sides of the avenue. Around one hundred thousand cars drive down the main street daily which serves as the main approach to Mejii Shrine.

Omotesando is an area of symbolic buildings, popular shops, wide sidewalks and trees, where many people come to take a leisurely walk It is known for its rapidly changing mixture of young culture and residential space.

Surely considered one of the top three most popular areas of town in Tokyo, the streets of Omotesando and Aoyama with their fashionable shops, lovely open-terrace cafes and hip beauty salons are as full of creative vigor and energy as ever. A number of fashionable beauty salons are hidden in the back streets. Give one a try, if you have time, or make a reservation to visit one you like.

Strolling along the main streets, you will have the chance to take in all the splendor of this fabulous shopping district, yet veering off to a back alley, you will encounter the surprisingly familiar daily activities of local residents.

In Omotesando and its adjacent Aoyama, fashion designers began to set up their offices and studios after the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Since then, more and more fashion stores for adults and fashionable coffee shops and restaurants have been built in this area. Aoyama with its zelkova tree lined avenue has the atmosphere that resemble those in European streets.

It is known as an upscale shopping area featuring several international brand outlets, ranging from Louis Vuitton, Gucci etc to the more affordable The Body Shop, Zara, and others, that’s why it is so called "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées".

It has opened the largest Louis Vuitton shop in Japan in 2003, and queues are frequent. It is one of the rare avenue of the Japanese capital to be planted with trees all its length.

Beginning with Louis Vuitton Omotesando, which just opened this September, and the Esquisse Omotesando building complex, which offers all the luxury brand names like Chanel and Gucci, Omotesando offers you dozens of different brand name shops of all descriptions-fashion, cosmetics, interior design, you name it. After walking and walking, take a load off and rest your sore feet at any of the lovely street cafes.

Omotesando is also home to the famous Japanese toy store Kiddyland and the latest development, Omotesando Hills, which opened in 2006. Side-streets leading off Omotesando feature a range of trendy cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as boutique stores specialising in everything from handbags to postcards to vintage glass bottles.

Japan's first posh western-style apartment buildings, the classic Dojunkai apartment buildings along the avenue, match the atmosphere perfectly. Unfortunately, these buildings are soon to be torn down, rebuilt and modernized. From Omotesando straight down to Kotto-Dori (Curio Street), you can enjoy high-end window-shopping to your heart's content.

This neighborhood, where creative minds gather, has many museums and unique galleries to satisfy your artistic interests. Nezu Museum, behind Kotto-Dori Street, is a treasure house of Oriental classic art with a magnificent garden. In the tearoom, you can enjoy ceremonial ground green tea and Japanese confections. If you prefer more radical, modern art, why not visit the Okamoto Taro Memorial Museum next door?

Omotesando is filled with joy during any season of the year, but it is at its most beautiful in late autumn, when the leaves of the tree-lined Omotesando Boulevard and the ginkgo groves at Jingu Outer Shrine turn bright yellow. This is a must-see for a most impressive urbane day of leisure.

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