Tokyo’s Harajuku Girls and Rockabilly Boys

On our first Sunday in Tokyo, we took the metro to Harajuku station. We’d heard on Sundays that people (mostly girls) like to get dressed up in cosplay and various Lolita type costumes and that a nearby street, Takashita Dori (photo at top) might be fun to walk around. We were completely unprepared for what we found. The area around the station was just packed with people shoulder to shoulder and some of the costumes were seriously over the top. The favorite of the day seemed to be the Strawberry themed “Sweet Lolita” characters, but we also saw plenty of Gothic Lolitas and a couple sailor types.

Harajuku Station
From the pedestrian bridge overlooking Harajuku Station
Harajuku Girl on Takashita Dori
Harajuku Girl on Takashita Dori

Takashita Dori is a pedestrian only street loaded with cheap clothing shops and fast food places catering to local teens. We stopped for the popular snack of a crepe loaded with fruit and ice cream (disappointing and chewy). Savory crepes appeared popular as well. While eating our crepes we happened to see one of the areas’s well known local characters an old man in an odd outfit, complete with live fish in glass bowls hanging from his ears.

Well known character on Takashita Dori. Image top right is his "hat."
Crepes on Takashita Dori
Crepes on Takashita Dori

Over near the entrance to Yoyogi Park were the rockabilly boys who have portable music players blasting 50’s rock music. These guys all wear similar tight jeans, pompadour hair, pointy shoes and move to very specific stylized dance moves. There’s also a small subset wearing saddle shoes and poodle skirts.They stand in circles dancing with their group and there are 3 or 4 groups in this wide plaza area. It was hard to tell if they were competing or just doing their own thing. David said he remembers them from when he was here as a kid, and by all looks, some of these guys appeared old enough to have been here the first time David was here 25+ years ago. Some of these guys have worn down their shoes so much they have put white tape on them to keep them together.

Rockabilly Boys in Yoyogi Park
Rockabilly Boys in Yoyogi Park

Rockabilly Boys in Yoyoki Park Tokyo

Across from the park is the Olympic Stadium and the area in front was packed with thousands of Lolita dressed girls. It did look like some sort of convention was going on there, complete with admission lines to go inside the building, but it was hard to determine because few of the signs were in English. Pink was the predominant color.

Harajuku Girls of all Types
Harajuku Girls of all Types

Harajuku Girls

A week later we were in this neighborhood again and hardly saw anyone dressed up so in the end we don’t know how often this happens. Friends told us when they were here last Fall, there didn’t see anyone dressed up.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. This is one of the reasons I want to go to Japan. Simply to see all this Japanese “weirdness”. It’s like a blend of 50’s USA, Manga, futurism and a dash of Wasabi!!

    1. wired2theworld says:

      Dave- Yes, it really is like nowhere else. I think cosplay has been exported to other countries, but not with the same popularity as in Japan. Here in LA you can see a small group of kids dress up on the weekend and hang out in Little Tokyo.

  2. Myra says:

    What a cool experience! I love the pictures of the Harajuku girls and admire their creativity. I especially like the first picture of the girl in pink and black.

    1. wired2theworld says:

      Myra-I loved her too! She was really unusual, I didn’t see anyone else dressed like that.

  3. ayngelina says:

    That is absolutely crazy. I must go there!

    How did you find they reacted to the photography, did they pose for you or shy away.

    1. wired2theworld says:

      I think they really like having their photos taken, but honestly I was too shy to ask anyone to pose for me. But I saw a lot of people posing for cameras. What I still can’t figure out is if it’s every Sunday or not. I think it used to be, but perhaps it’s not as popular any longer. The 2nd Sunday we were there we hardly saw anyone dressed up.

  4. Kent @NVR says:

    What a crack up! And what a lot of work they must put themselves through. It’s gotta take time to look that crazy.

    1. wired2theworld says:

      There are whole stores on Takashita Dori dedicated to getting that “look.” Not only does it take time, but it’s got to take some cash too!

  5. Wow – awesome costumes. Some of them are pretty out of this world. Japan is such a fascinating country.

  6. Shawn Kielty says:

    That’s a touch off the chart. Very cool, though.

  7. I love the photos! I really want to see the amazing outfits when I go to Japan some day – but I want to put off my visit to Japan until I am not on so strict of a budget.

    Jade Johnston | http://www.ouroyster.com

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