Harajuku is hands down my favorite place in Tokyo. Like most Americans, my first exposure to this wacky and wonderful neighborhood was through Gwen Stefani and her #squad of Harajuku girls. Their colorful style was unlike anything I'd seen before, and I was obsessed! It took me nearly a decade to visit the origin of the style I've adored for so many years but it was well worth the wait. I could spend days wandering through the quirky boutiques, sampling local treats, and ogling the street style.
In case you aren't as Japan obsessed as I am, Harajuku is a neighborhood, spreading from Shibuya to Omotesando, that is known as the epicenter of Japanese youth culture and fashion. This article provides a great overview of the area's history. The most famous streets in the area are Takeshita, Cat Street, and Omotesando.
Harajuku style is a collective term used to refer to the stylish young people that hang out in the neighborhood, it encompasses several styles, including:
1. Lolita-Influenced by the Victorian period, Lolita style is one of the Harajuku styles westerners are most familiar with. Lolita fashions are usually very feminine, characterized by the appearance of petticoats, knee length dresses, and lots of bows and lace. There are several subsets of Lolita fashion, inclding GothicLoli, CountryLoli, and many more.
2. Decora-Derived from the word "decoration", decora style is characterized by loud colors and excessive ornamentation using everything from barrettes and ribbons to stuffed animals and dolls.
3. Cosplay - Cosplay, short for "costume play", is a style inspired by popular Manga and Video Game characters.
4. Ganguro- Ganguro style is essentially an extreme version of the quintessential California girl. The look is characterized by Orange skin, hair dyed blonde or grey, and lots of makeup, especially white under eye concealer. (This is also what I look like when I try to contour :) )