Nothing says fun like Takeshita Street—one of the busiest and brightest shopping streets in Tokyo, with everything you could ever want, and plenty you don’t!
Originally the place to go for counterfeit American and Japanese brands in the 90s, Takeshita has always had a fashionable reputation, but it’s cleaned up its act these days. Well-known and featured in every guidebook, it’s the heart of all things trendy and weird, with studded boots and acid-trip kitten T-shirts galore. Although there are chain stores dotted around, the street is mainly filled with independent stores and smaller brands as well as a few small department stores, meaning there is a seriously huge range to choose from. Thanks to its reputation, many of the smaller stores are used as testers to see what trends will be popular, so you can often find it first here. If you weren’t sure about visiting the street yourself, have a virtual wander through the top spots in the guide below to see if it piques your interest!
Shopping: The Main Attraction
Variety is the spice of life, and Takeshita Street is certainly flavorful if that rule is anything to go by. With everything from entire stores dedicated to incredibly creative socks, to the wackiest conspiracy-theory T-shirts and the oddest collection of shoes in town, you can browse for a very long time. The variety truly is the best part though, there is something for everyone—from classy one-off brands to kittens shooting lasers from donuts. There’s a lot of ‘normal’ fashion too—stuff you will have seen around and surprisingly similar to the markets from back home—not quite knock-off, but not quite brand-name either. Here are some of the top things to look out for:
I know you may not think this needs its own category, but they really are impressive. With sea-life-decorated pairs to unicorn-crested, white-glitter-adorned gems, you can really find some extravagant footwear. With three pairs for 1,000 yen, they can be a great way to take a piece of Harajuku home or give to friends, and they are pretty damn fun too. You won’t miss them but TutuAnna is a good place to start.
Department Stores and Brand Names
So while actual brands might seem boring in comparison to the crazy stuff, there are often some very small brands deep within these shops, and since Harajuku embraces all names, so should you. One of the biggest is SoLaDo which is good for variety (and aircon) and also has impressive sales throughout the year. Harajuku Alta has a plenty to explore with Disney and lots of accessories. Cute Cube is also worth exploring as it is home to cute themed cafes and brands like Monki. If you’re after more brands—Liz Lisa offers a very cute Lolita vibe (just past 7-Eleven on your left) and an ANAP outlet store down the path opposite.
There are some brilliant tiny shops here, and they are very open to people browsing, so don’t feel intimidated when they look trendy and cool and empty. Some of the best finds are in here, and aren’t always expensive either. Favorites include the popcorn handbags and cat accessories, but go exploring and see what you find. The best advice is to always wander down an alley—you never know what you’ll find, and since there is quite a bit of a rotation, you may be finding something new!
So if you’re keen to get something memorable, then there are a few stores you may want to head to. Be it kittens in space or some rather NSFW Disney scenes, Takeshita has it all. ACDC Rag is hard to miss and is crammed full with a real mix, from Gothic Lolita to punk and everything in between. Liz Lisa offers the very Lolita style but also has quite an impressive price tag, so try not to touch any of the pastel-colored creations with crepe-covered hands. WC is a brighter and more playful style and more affordable too. Panama Boy is a great place for shoes, as it is all ‘vintage’ style as well as other accessories.
Make-up and Skin Care
The old favorite Matsumoto Kiyoshi is here with all the face masks and creams you could ever need at reasonable prices too. if you’re after something a little cooler, the Etude House has a great selection of very nicely displayed cosmetics. Don’t worry about it being Korean, the Japanese love Korean skincare so it makes for the most authentic of souvenirs and treats.
The biggest Daiso in Tokyo, the Harajuku store has three whole floors of glorious 100-yen joy. If you aren’t aware of Daiso, it’s one of the biggest 100-yen stores in Japan, with everything from fake eyelashes to gardening equipment to fireworks, and none as bad as you would expect. This one has an extra range of souvenir items including fans, gifts and traditional toys—making it a great place to bulk-buy mini gifts. It’s also worth noting that their skincare stuff and some make-up is actually pretty good, and why not try for 100 yen a pop? They have recently introduced some items at more than 100yen, but don’t worry, it will be very clearly marked with a big price tag. It will only be 200 yen or 300 yen, nothing crazy. So basically, unless it’s a giant cushion with a massive 200 yen sign on, yes, everything really really is 100 yen.
Although it used to be famed for the alternatively dressed shoppers, there are sadly far fewer around these days thanks to the hoards of selfie sticks and people. There are still some willing characters who will happily pose for pictures (when asked politely) and your best bet of seeing them is on the weekend. Nearby events may lead to an influx of a certain style, or you may see other visitors letting their hair down. Department stores either on or just around the street are surprisingly good places as it’s less pressure. Either way, keep an eye out and be polite and you can probably pose with them too.
What better way to celebrate your new purchases than with a photo shoot, purikura style? If you ever wondered what you would look like in an alien-based future, this is your chance. Focused on the slightly concerning aspects of Japanese self-image, the photo booths take highly “beautified” photos, mainly giving you wider eyes, a narrower face and whiter skin (awks). You can tone down the beauty effects though and enjoy the suggested cute poses and then decorate to your heart’s content with hearts, stickers, panda faces and literally anything you could ever imagine in stamp form. The booths cost 400 yen and you can choose a variety of layouts depending on how many people you have in the group. There are even mini tables with scissors to divide them before you go. The pictures are actually stickers and if you’re dedicated you can do what every good Japanese junior high school does and make a book!
You can find the purikura to your right, down some steps, with plenty of signs, opposite McDonald’s.
The food on Takeshita Street lives up to its fashion craziness, you’ll be pleased to hear. Wandering down the street you can take your pick from rainbow candyfloss spun from seven colors or Hokkaido cream puffs, all of which are delicious. The street is most well known for its crepes of course—with competing stands on every corner and every filling you can imagine. Whether you prefer a simple strawberries and cream or you want to go all out with slices of cheesecake and brownies in there, there’s something for everyone (even savory options, but that’s no fun). The home of the rainbow candyfloss also sells adorable cake pops and there’s the famous candy store as featured in the Avril Lavigne music video. For a savory escape try the freshly fried Calbee chips, or the unexciting but delicious mozzarella sticks at the very end of the street. Our full article on the sugary treats on offer can be found here!
If you want a break—we suggest heading to the quirky Christie cafe off one of the side streets on your right (heading away from the station). Themed around the much-loved author Agatha Christie, the cafe has an intense British feel with a lot of dark wood and books. You can enjoy tea, cake and sandwiches and hopefully some well-dressed patrons too. For something heartier, Chiles Mexican Grill around the corner is also a great place to grab some food and a break!
Surrounded by plenty of popular spots in Tokyo it’s easy to slot Takeshita into your itinerary. If you need some culture there’s Meiji Jingu across the road, and Omotesando is a great shopping area too, if you didn’t find exactly what you were after. It also has a wealth of great architecture, and we have a walking tour to make the most of it! There’s also a lot of good food and entertainment, sometimes all in one place, with a dash of crazy—if you like the sound of that head to the Kawaii Monster Cafe. For a relaxed and healthier option, there’s also the avocado-themed restaurant (really delicious!). If you aren’t sure where to head then have a look at our DIY walking tour that goes from Shibuya to Harajuku to Meiji Jingu.