We recently connected with Mark Jarnes of Asobi System and Moshi Moshi Nippon. His latest project was the Moshi Moshi Box—the first tourist information center in the heart of Harajuku. Apart from the friendly staff and the helpful info (such as inexpensive shopping spots), there are a few other freebies the Box has to offer—that’s good for us cheapos!
What is the Moshi Moshi Box? Why was it created?
MOSHI MOSHI BOX is the name of talent agency ASOBISYSTEM’s (think Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and CAPSULE’s Yasutaka Nakata) information spaces, both permanent and pop-up. We opened the first permanent BOX in December 2014, right in the middle of Japan’s pop-culture mecca of Harajuku, to offer visitors the most relevant information depending on their interests and needs.
What services can tourists (or even residents) expect when they visit the Moshi Moshi Box?
MOSHI MOSHI BOX isn’t just for tourists —we have a lot of visitors who live in other parts of Japan who come in to ask for the tips and tricks to enjoying the area to the fullest.
Apart from the basic guidance and maps, we offer visitors the following services: free WiFi, power, a gift (or “omiyage”) store, free karaoke and a counter that has character-themed crepes. We even have a gallery/event space on the second floor for exhibitions and other events.
What kinds of people work at the Moshi Moshi Box?
The team at the BOX comprises of members of the Shibuya City Tourism Association and our own ASOBISYSTEM staff. The staff is super friendly and can customize their guidance to the needs of the visitor because everyone is a fan of Harajuku and know the area really well.
What shops do you direct people to if they have a limited (read: cheapo) budget?
Although the area is a major fashion hub, complete with the full lineup of the world’s most loved high-fashion brands, Harajuku is great for cheap, rare finds too. Actually, you’ll find one of the highest concentrations of second-hand and vintage clothing stores in the country.
Try out “Kinji,” “Otoe,” “Chicago” —and of course the “Daiso” (100 yen) store and “Thank You Mart,” where everything is 390 yen.
What are the most interesting/unusual questions that have been asked by tourists?
I suppose “Which bars open from noon?” takes the cake!
Our guide to prepay SIM cards, wifi routers, cafe wifi and other places to quickly find wifi whilst visiting Japan.
What are some hidden gems in Harajuku that most people don’t know about?
One place that I usually recommend to people is the unique-looking Design Festa gallery, tucked away behind Cat Street. Another place that is Chiles—perhaps the best burritos in the city!
What does the Moshi Moshi Box have to offer music lovers?
We have a karaoke booth in the building, where music fans can sing one song person, for free! Aside from Japanese, the system works in English, Chinese and Korean too.
Best grub in the neighborhood?
That’s a tough question!
Harajuku is a hub for all of the latest food trends including pancakes, popcorn and even gourmet burgers. On a personal note, I would say try Hola for their tacos, San Francisco Peaks for their burgers, Emilia for their pasta, Afuri for their yuzu ramen and the newly opened Kawaii Monster Café just for their weirdness!
Moshi Moshi Box focus is on pop culture—what trends are you predicting for the near (or distant) future?
I think you should ask that question to Harajuku Sightseeing Ambassadors and ASOBISYSTEM models, Ema and Eri!
Where can visitors find the Moshi Moshi Box information center (both online and in the physical world)?
In the real world, you’ll find us on Meiji Dori directly across from the end of Takeshita Street, where the Birkenstock shoe store used to be (3-23-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo). Look for the massive multi-color world clock designed by kawaii pioneer Sebastian Masuda on the front side of the building!
Online, you can find out more about the Moshi Moshi at:
Photograph the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, wander around the curious and quirky love hotel hill, visit Yoyogi park and Meiji shrine...