Harajuku is the common name given to a geographic area spreading from Harajuku Station to Omotesando, corresponding on official maps of Shibuya ward as Jingūmae chōme to chōme. In popular reference Harajuku also encompasses many smaller backstreets such as Takeshita Street and Cat Street spreading between Sendagaya in the north to Shibuya in the south.
Harajuku is known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. [Shopping and dining options include many small, youth oriented, independent boutiques and cafés, but the neighborhood also attracts many larger international chain stores with high-end luxury merchandisers extensively represented along Omotesando.
The 1970s and 1980s
Coming into the 1970s, fashion-obsessed youth culture experienced a transition from Shinjuku to Harajuku, then to Shibuya. Palais France, a building that sold fashion clothing and accessories, furniture, and other goods, was constructed on Meiji Street near the exit of Takeshita Street. In 1978, the fashion building Laforet Harajuku was opened, and Harajuku came to be widely known as the centre for fashion retail.
In the 1980s, Takeshita Street became known for teenage street dancing groups called takenoko-zoku.
From 1977, a Sundays only pedestrian precinct was established by closing local roads. This produced a surge in people gathering close to entrances of Yoyogi Park to watch Rock ‘n’ Rollers and start-up bands performing impromptu open air gigs. In the peak period, crowds of up to 10,000 people would gather. In 1998, the Sundays only pedestrian paradise was abolished.
1990s to present
In the 1990s and 2000s, with the rise of fast fashion, there was an influx of international fashion brand flagship store openings including Gap Inc., Forever 21, Uniqlo, Topshop and H&M. At the same time, new independent fashion trend shops spread into the previously residential areas of Jingumae and chome, with this area becoming known as Ura-Harajuku. (The “Harajuku Backstreets”).
High Fashion influenced by the Harajuku Style !
The youth culture on the streets of Harajuku.
Containing many different themes within its boundaries, Lolita has become one of the larger, more recognizable styles in Japanese street fashion and is now gaining interest worldwide. The more well-known styles within Lolita fashion are as follows:
Gothic Lolita – is Lolita with a heavy influence from the Eastern and Victorian Goth style. Often characterized by dark colours, crosses, bats and spiders, as well as other popular gothic ‘icons’. Victorian iron gates and architectural designs are also often seen in dress prints. Skirts are usually worn knee length with petticoats beneath for volume. Blouses or shirts are lace-trimmed or ruffled in the Victorian style. Knee length socks with boots, bonnets, brooches, and a parasol finish out this style of Lolita.
Sweet Lolita – is the most childlike style, mostly characterized by baby animals, fairy tale themes and innocent, childlike attire. It was originally inspired by Victorian children’s clothing and Alice in Wonderland. Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma and other cute pop culture characters are popular among the Sweet lolitas. Pastel colors are used, as well as other muted colors like black and dark reds and blues. Large headbows, cute purses, elegant parasols and stuffed animals are popular accessories for Sweet Lolita.
Punk Lolita – An experimental style, mixing the influences of Punk with Lolita. It can sometimes look deconstructed or crazy, while keeping most of the ‘Lolita silhouette’.
Classic Lolita is very traditional. It is more business-like and focuses on light colors such as, blue, green, and red.
Kodona, a.k.a. ‘boystyle’ and ouji, is a more masculine counterpart of lolita, influenced by Victorian boys’ clothing. ‘Prince pants’, which are short capri-style pants that are cut off the knee, usually with some sort of detail (such as lace-edged cuffs) are commonly worn with masculine blouses, top hats, knee socks etc.