Harajuku, the name of the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan. East of Harajuku Station lies Takeshita-dori/ Street, known throughout Japan as a popular hangout for 13- to 15-year-olds. Every Sunday afternoon, hundreds of teenagers gather in amazing outfits to meet with friends.. They dress totally weirdly and wonderfully, because here, anything goes… and the weirder and wilder, the better..
Tourists from all over the world come to Harajuku to view the Japanese teens who congregate in the area to shop, eat, and hang out. The Japanese youth around Harajuku often wear extreme clothing styles influenced by cosplay, punk, gothic, lolita, hip hop, and other international and Japanese subcultures.
View of Takeshita-dori/ Street
Impressed by their style, Gwen Stefani popularised Harajuku girls a few years ago, she uses Harajuku girls as her stage dancers, and it had such an impression on her that it also played a major role in influencing her choices in the clothing she designed for her label, L.A.M.B. She also recently released a perfume called Harajuku Lovers.
Many different styles of fashion can be found on display here:
Decora– is a style carachterized by wearing many bright colours of the rainbow and hairclips
Kawaii– meaning ‘cute’ or ‘pretty’. Clothing appears to be made for young children or clothes which accentuate the cuteness of the individual wearing the clothing.
Cosplay– when clothes are worn to imitate a known band or anime carachter. Cosplay is an abbreviation of Costume Play. It is a Japanese subculture based on dressing like characters from manga, anime, bands and video games. The term cosplay pronounced “kosupure” in Japanese.
Gothic loli– aka Gothic Lolita refers to the fashion of frilly, ruffled knee-length dresses and head-bands etc. Gothic Lolita clothes have a sometimes very dark look or sometimes very kawaii (cute) look – demonstrated by Baby The Stars Shine Bright.
Gothic Aristocrat refers to a more subtle and refined dressing consisting of longer dresses and coats- it is a very elegant style.
Ganguro– a style in which the girls have fake tans and died blonde hair and put white make-up around their eyes with white lipstick.. black eye-liner is also worn around the white make-up..Ganguro girls wear brightly coloured clothes including miniskirts, tie-dyed sarongs, lots or rings, necklaces and bracelets.
Ganguro is believed to have started as a kind of revenge against the traditional norm in Japanese society as to what feminine beauty should be. Many Japanese researchers believe that the rebellion against japanese society is due to resentment of neglect.
Kogal– girls are know for prominently “showing off” their disposable income through the fashions they wear, their taste in music and their social activity in general. Kogal fashion is similar to that of the sun tanned California Valley Girl. Similar to Ganguro although the two should not be confused. Kogal girls sport designer accessories such as louis vuitton handbags and are often the first consumers of japanese mobile phones. Kogal girls may partake in “compensated dating”, which some consider to be quasi-legal prostitution. Internet usage of the word has led some Westerners to believe that “kogal” means “prostitute”.Kogal is a fashion that involves wearing an outfit based on a Japanese school uniform, but with a shortened skirt, loose socks, and often dyed hair and a scarf as well.Aside from the pinned-up skirt and the loose socks, or rusu sokusu, kogals favor platform boots, makeup, and Burberry scarves. They may also dye their hair brown and get artificial suntans. They have a distinctive slang peppered with English words.
Harajuku’s roots trace back to the end of World War II when U.S. soldiers and their families began to occupy the area known as Harajuku. It became an area where curious young people flocked to experience a different culture.
In 1958, Central Apartments were built in the area and were quickly occupied by fashion designers, models, and photographers. In 1964, when the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo the Harajuku area was further developed and the idea of “Harajuku” slowly began to take a more concrete shape.
After the Olympics the young people who hung out in the area, frequently referred to as the Harajuku-zoku or the Harajuku tribe, began to develop a distinct culture and style unique to different groups and the area. From this distinct style grew the culture of Harajuku as a gathering ground for youths and as a fashion mecca.
Watch a short video about Harajuku bridge here