There’s plenty of shopping to do on Takeshita-dori, but all that browsing can work up an appetite. Luckily there are plenty of characteristically Harajuku sweets to be had (and there’s more than just crepes!)
Whether you’re there for the quirky clothes or not, there’s plenty to keep you happy on Takeshita-dori (and just round the corner) if you’ve got a sweet tooth. From super-kawaii swirls of color to the very best Hokkaido’s got to offer, there’s plenty of choice—but no one’s saying you can’t try them all.
Rainbow Cotton Candy
Definitely the most “Harajuku girls” treat of the list, this rainbow delight is impressive to say the least, and delicious too. Unless I grew up in a land of cotton-candy poverty, it always came in a bag and tasted the same, but it was great anyway. Not anymore. Here in the world of Harajuku, fluffy cotton candy comes in rainbows and each flavor tastes distinctly different, including flavors like Japanese Ramune. You can choose from three sizes, the largest is 5 colors (900 yen), medium is 3 colors (600 yen) and you can try a single color (300 yen). Another option is a heart-shaped one for 650 yen which is pretty adorable too. The shop itself is a pink dream of mirrors and hearts with bowls of sweets you’ll remember from childhood and some you won’t, as well as cake pops (more on those later) and you can get sets along with the cotton candy.
Totti Candy Factory, Open 9:30am – 8pm weekends and holidays, 10am-8pm weekdays Feb-Oct and 10:30am – 7pm Nov-Jan, Located on Takeshita-dori, second floor.
If you’ve noticed anything in Japan yet, it will be that luxury versions of things are only beaten in popularity by limited-edition things, and when you combine the two and chuck in a bit of kitsch American style you’re onto a winner. Garrett Popcorn started selling in 1949 and opened up in Harajuku in 2013, using the traditional copper kettles to pop their corn. You can choose from the regular flavors including Caramel Crisp (which is delicious), Cheese Corn, Mild Salt and Almond Caramel Crisp. If you fancy it, you can try the Chicago Mix which is half caramel and half cheese. Or try any of the seasonal flavors which are introduced throughout the year for limited times. Queues can be pretty impressively long, especially on weekends,so maybe visit during the week if you are determined to try, but don’t have the time to line up. Flavors start at 390 yen for a small bag and go up to between 600-900 yen for a large bag.
Garrett Popcorn – Open Monday – Sunday from 10am to 9pm, Located on the little pedestrianized corner at the crossing by the Meiji Jingu Shrine entrance.
Zaku Zaku from Hokkaido
Meaning crunchy in Japanese, Zaku Zaku is the perfect name for this delicious treat which is far beyond any choux cream puff you’ve ever tried. Almost the length of a ruler, it is an unusual shape, as usually the puffs here are round, but this just means more food, so it’s all good. With an almond crust, it has a real crunch, opening up your world to a creamy custard straight from Hokkaido. What makes the queue so long here is that they actually fill each puff when ordered to make sure that the outside stays crisp and the cream stays cool, so it really is perfection when it’s eventually handed to you. Whether you’ve been to Hokkaido or not, you’ll have heard of the high-quality dairy products that come from there, and this is the perfect way to try them out, as they only cost 250 yen each. If you’re an ice cream fan you can also try an almond-crunch Hokkaido soft serve in a cone—or both!
Zaku Zaku – Open 10am – 8pm, Located on Takeshita-dori (street level)
Of course, you can’t go to Harajuku without trying the crepes, be they stuffed with cream, brownies, cheesecake or pie! With plenty of options along the street you can take your pick, with Angel’s Heart, or Santa Monica Crepes being the usual favorites, the latter having over 100 options. In true Japanese style you need not imagine your treat, you can gaze upon a vast array of wax-plastic recreations which will make your soul elated and your health consciousness die a little. You can use your queue time to take your pick from the myriad of numbered options, which are much easier to remember when ordering. There are some savory creations too, but where’s the fun in that? The crepe of your choice will be made fresh in front of you and handed over with treats nestled in, ready to be Instagrammed and eaten immediately. You can read more on crepes and where to get them here if you like!
Cute Cake Pops
Now, this may be from the same place as the cotton candy joint, but not everybody is into that (not sure why though). The Totti Candy Factory is also well known for animal cake pops which are definitely smaller, but have the same levels of cuteness crushed in. Choose from cats, lions, doughnuts, rabbits and bears and even combine them in a set with some of the famed cotton candy if you don’t think you’ll die of a sugar overload. If cake pops have somehow passed you by, they are small balls of cake decorated and put on a stick, they had a phase, which ended in most places but found a forever-home here apparently. Unlike most cake pops which use sub-standard cake, here they are created with the help of a French pastry chef and individually hand-made to ensure they taste as good as they look. Cake pops are 400 yen and available in sets together or combinations.
Totti Candy Factory – Open 9:30am – 8pm weekends and holidays, 10am-8pm weekdays Feb-Oct and 10:30am – 7pm Nov-Jan, Located on Takeshita-dori, (Second floor)
Freshly Made Calbee Fries
One for the savory-snack fiends among us, or the perfect buffer between sweet treats, are the freshly made Calbee fries. If you’ve been into a convenience store you’ll no doubt have seen the red, blue and green cups with the giraffe on the side, and they are the crunchiest, most addictive things around—so please try them if you haven’t. Then, and only then, can you upgrade to the fresh version. To do this in reverse would leave you in a state of perpetual disappointment. The fresh ones are perfectly crisp and delicious, but a small size is probably enough for one person as they are quite… fried.
Made on site you can order any of the favorites including the sticks or the regular flat style with toppings including cheese and sour cream. If you’re feeling brave, why not opt for a drizzle of chocolate on top or a scoop of ice cream on the side (because where else would you get your sugar fix round here?). The ice cream is actually Hokkaido soft serve, and when Hokkaido pairs up its two best products (potatoes and dairy)—you can’t go wrong. Prices are reasonable, going from 250 yen for a green cup and starting at 230 yen for the regular-shaped fries.
Calbee Plus Harajuku – Open 9.30am – 8.30pm, Located on Takeshita-Dori (street level)
Read our guide on more free and cheap things to do in Harajuku.
Our video guide to the tuna auctions at the shiny new Toyosu Fish Market