Harajuku runs on sugar and hormones. It’s home to many of Japan’s youth sub-cultures and is a magnet for cosplayers and merchants of cool. It’s also the source of Tokyo’s best crepes—more about that below. Harajuku is one hella crazy place, but you’ve got to see it for yourself. So brace yourself for the crowds, and open yourself to the experience. Don’t open your wallet too widely though—it has a habit of snaffling yens.
What to eat and drink in Harajuku
Harajuku’s specialty is crepes. In fact, it’s the one thing you need to try when you’re there. There are crepes on every corner—chocolate ones, cream-filled ones, gluten-free ones and even savory ones. Browse our Harajuku crepe guide to see what you might fancy. More on Harajuku sweets here.
There are a few restaurants scattered here and there, but if you’re after something that isn’t a crepe, your best bet is to head a little way over to the Omotesando side. The streets are packed with eateries of all descriptions and budgets. There is everything from gourmet popcorn (yeah, we think that’s a bit of a contradiction in terms) to burgers and noodles, and a bunch of convenience stores too.
What to do in Harajuku
Harajuku Station is adjacent to the mega sightseeing spot of Meiji Shrine and a stone’s throw away from Yoyogi Park. And just a block over you’ll find Omotesando, one of the poshest shopping streets in Japan. If you’re interested in architecture, then try this little walking tour we’ve put together.
Harajuku is defined by Takeshita Dori, a narrow alley that is filled with sweet scents, pink, bubblegum, and whatever’s cute, cheap, and now for the under-16 set. There are plenty of vintage and used clothing places like Kinji and Mirror and the general fashion is aimed at the young and eclectic, so prices are a bit more reasonable than neighboring Omotesando.
Cat Street (that cuts across Omotesando running parallel to Meiji Dori) is a short stroll away and well worth a peek while you’re in the area. It’s lined with quirky shops and features one of the most popular takoyaki places around. Also, fancy donuts and good coffee.
There’s also the weird and wacky
Kawaii Monster Cafe (closed down January 2021 due to COVID-19), which we recommend experiencing as part of a guided tour that also takes in nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Where to stay in Harajuku
Harajuku is a day-trip destination, not really a place where people stay. Cheapos tend to go for neighboring Shibuya—where you can snag rooms at any of a few dozen budget hotels, or one of Tokyo’s other, less manic areas. Have a look at our cheap hotel guide for some ideas.
You can also check out our list of 10 free things to do in Harajuku.