So… let’s continue our Harajuku shopping guide shall we? Last time, I told you all about Takeshita Dori and the many awesome shops that line the busy main street. Today i’ll take you across Meiji Dori and down the street signposted ‘Harajuku St’.
When you got to the bottom of Takeshita Dori last time, I forgot to mention the shop ‘Bowl O Rama’. This is pretty much right next to you on the right hand side at the bottom of the street. It sells all kinds of vintage and reproduction vintage items, the guys stuff consists of levi jeans, retro bowling shirts and work boots and the girls stuff includes cute bandana inspired print dresses, cat shaped handbags and accessories galore!
Now you need to cross the street that cuts off Takeshita Dori (it’s called Meiji Dori) and head towards the narrow street directly opposite called ‘Harajuku St’. Just before you start to go down this street you will notice that there is a kind of side street immediately to your right. There are some awesome shops down here, you could check them out now before heading down Harajuku St or later, once you retrace your steps!
As you walk down Harajuku St you will already notice that the atmosphere is different to that of Takeshita Dori.. none of your tacky tourist junk here! Instead, this street is lined with more niche shops, there’s an ethical clothing store, a couple of really good vintage shops, and loads more! Look up and just a little way down the street you will see a shop called ‘G2?’. This place is a really good vintage shop if you are looking for a mixture of specialist and everyday items.. They have awesome blouses and t-shirts snuggled up next to full 50’s ballgowns! If super rare handbags from the 40’s,50’s and 60’s are your thing, they have a whole room for them!!
I *think* down this street there should also be a shop with a carousel horse lamp in the window.. now the lamp is, unfortunately, not for sale.. but the store is pretty cool. I always forget what it’s called though. They sell those crazy platform converse, printed tights, weird almost 90’s looking clothes and kitschy jewellery.. It’s SO worth a look!
Eventually, if you keep going down Harajuku St, you will get to a poochie fashion shop. Now, i’m not a fan of dogs myself.. but I LOVE that this place exists! On a Saturday you will usually see rich housewives with their Chihuahuas in baskets buying gilt collars or velvet doggie beds. It’s definitely fascinating to someone like me.. I am always interested in the lengths people go to to feed obsession!
The dog shop is on a corner, and the road that creates the corner with Harajuku St is a pretty good one to veer off and explore too! If you imagine you are standing facing away from Meiji Dori on Harajuku St you want to go down this new street by turning left. Going right is good too, but maybe explore that later! As you head down this new street you wil see shops dedicated to selling Alice in Wonderland themed Gothic Lolita clothing, new designers opening pop-up shops, more vintage clothing stores, a shop selling nothing but hawaiian goods, super swanky menswear shops and a little boutique selling re-worked clothing (i’m talking Rainbow Brite bedsheets turned into dresses, you guys!) Heck, if you walk even further down this street you will find a huge toy store selling everything from Marvel action figures to super rare and collectible film props! Oh, and if coffee is your thing, just a tiny bit further down you will find a minuscule three story corrugated iron structure which houses a coffee shop specialising in latte art! (Top tip: buy your coffee at ground level then head up to the top floor for a super cosy break from shopping!).
The good stuff on this street kinda ends at the coffee shop, so you want to turn around and walk back to where the doggie shop is. Once you get back there, continue walking down Harajuku St, away from Meiji Dori. It will feel like you are walking into a residential area, the road sort of ramps up, towards a wall, but then curves round. If you followed the road you should see a building with steps at the side of it that lead up to the 1st floor. All the ground floor shops are accessible from the front of the building, you will be looking at the side from this angle. For all you designer toy and streetwear geeks, this is where Bounty Hunter is! At street level and closest to the road. Go in here for a glimpse of the mega successful designer toy company… they now mainly seem to do streetwear and accessories, but there should be a few cabinets with vinyl toys too!
If you come out of Bounty Hunter and head towards the building opposite (it looks like someones house!) You will find an awesome antiques shop. You usually have to squeeze yourself between the wall and the owners car (I swear it’s just his house!) and you’re in! They sell all sorts… metal printing press letters, antique bridles, clothing, lace handkerchiefs, vintage signage.. pretty much EVERYTHING!
Back over the road and up the stairs of the first building here and you will find my two all time favourite shops in Harajuku.. Erostika and Secret Base. Erostika is the Harajuku based store of the insanely talented, totally cool ‘Rockin’ Jellybean’. RJB is a mysterious lowbrow artist who creates eye popping illustrations and prints which he then puts on T-Shirts, underwear, stickers, badges, phone cases and more! He famously never shows his face and wears wrestling masks to oscure his identity! You can buy high quality hand screenprinted editions of his works to put on your wall (me and boyfriend have four now), Vinyl toy representations of the characters he created (we have one, signed!), merchandise such as lighters, ashtrays and other bits and bobs and records he has done the artwork for (including the 5,6,7,8’s).
The second time I went to Tokyo, I had the fortune of visiting when RJB would be signing stuff in Erostika. I went with boyfriend, our friend who was holidaying with us and my Japanese friend Toy (she runs BAPSjapon). RJB was such a nice guy, spoke to us in English quite well and was happy to pose and sign things for us! Just in case you were thinking this is a long and wordy post… here’s a picture Toy took of the event in question. You can see how awesome the shop is!
All Credit for the image goes to Toy of BAPS JAPON, RJB and EROSTIKA
Boyfriend, me and RJB!
It’s worth having a chat to the guy who works at the Erostika store. His name is Wild Ox and his English is really good. He can usually point out some good gigs to go to, or events that might be on while you’re around. He is always happy to help with sizing too so if you can’t see a T-Shirt in your size he will look for you!
If you come out of Erostika (I know, it’s hard) and go to the metal door across the corridor directly opposite you will find Secret Base. Secret Base is probably my favourite designer toy company I have encountered. The inside of their store houses little works of vinyl art behind metal bars and on high shelves. It feels a little like a secret club, and can be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking at. SB create new collections and editions of toys quite regularly, I bought boyfriend a fat Ronald McDonald they created in cahoots with Ron English, based on his paintings.
Secret Base McHumberger X-Ray Version Toy
As well as all the awesome toys, Secret Base sell T-Shirts and other collectibles too, including toys from other distributors they collaborate with. If you see something in here you like, I would say buy it. Chances are it won’t be here for long as SB toys are sought after.
Well, thats about it for this entry. I know it was a lot of words and not much to look at, maybe i should find some of my Tokyo photos and give you a visual feast next time!
In Part 3 I will tell you all about LaForet and Tokyu Plaza malls!