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!

Fun from the moment you arrive | Photo by iStock.com/naotoshinkai

Originally the place to go for counterfeit American and Japanese brands in the 90s, Takeshita Street 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!

Pro tip: Book a guided tour and let a local show you the best of Takeshita Street.

Shopping: The Main Attraction

Clothes Shopping in Takeshita Harajuku
Photo by iStock.com/font83

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 acessories, 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:

Accessories

Every fashionista knows the value of accessorizing. So believe us when we say that Takeshita Street has every accessory in every style you could every dream of. Glitzy earrings? Yes. Big, velvet hair bows? Yes. Spiky choker? Yes. A never-before-seen combination of all 3? Definitely. Prices range between different shops, but rest assured that you’ll find plenty of fashionable cheapo-friendly options under ¥1,000. They can be a great way to take a piece of Harajuku home or give to friends, and they are pretty damn fun too.

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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.

Boutiques

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!

The Extremes

shop front with many elaborate costumes
Photo by Maria Danuco

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. 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. And if the photo above tickles your fancy, Takenoko is the place for you.


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Skin care and cosmetics

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. There are also lots of smaller pop-up style shops selling a range of Korean and Japanese cosmetics and skin care dotteed through out Takeshita Street and the surrounding alleys so don’t forget to check those too.

Daiso Dreams

Takeshita Daiso Store Harajuku
Photo by iStock.com/powerofforever

The biggest Daiso in Tokyo, the Harajuku store has 3 whole floors of glorious 100-yen (¥100) 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 100-yen, but don’t worry, it will be very clearly marked with a big price tag. It will only be ¥200 or ¥300, nothing crazy. So basically, unless it’s a giant cushion with a massive ¥200 sign on, yes, everything really, really is ¥100, plus 10% consumption tax.

Food Fantasies

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 unbelievably long spiraled potatoes, 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 some Korean style cheese dogs which — in true Takeshita style — can also be found in a rainbow colored variation. 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 just down one of the side streets. 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!

Costume Chances

Harajuku Takeshita Cosplay
Photo by iStock.com/Rudimencial

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.

Purikura Perfection

Purikura Photo
Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

Feeling inspired and in the mood for you own photoshoot? 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 ¥500 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 students does and make a book!

You can find a basement full of purikura photo booths down some stairs opposite McDonald’s. 

Nearby

Sake Barrels at Meiji-jingu Shrine
Barrels of sake from throughout Japan | Photo by Gregory Lane

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! For a healthy and relaxed lunch spot, there’s 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.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This post was first published in 2017 and is updated regularly. Last updated in September 2022 by Maria Danuco.

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