Every Sunday, young people dressed in a variety of styles including gothic lolita, visual kei, and decora, as well as cosplayers spend the day in Harajuku socializing. The fashion styles of these youths rarely conform to one particular style and are usually a mesh of many. Most young people gather on Jingu Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that connects Harajuku to the neighboring Meiji Shrine area.
Harajuku is also a fashion capital of the world, renowned for its unique street fashion. Harajuku street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Kera, Tune, Gothic & Lolita Bible and Fruits. Many prominent designers and fashion ideas have sprung from Harajuku and incorporated themselves into other fashions throughout the world.
Harajuku is also a large shopping district that includes international brands, its own brands, and shops selling clothes young people can afford.
The area has two main shopping streets, Omotesandō and Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dōri). The latter caters to youth fashions and has many small stores selling Gothic Lolita, visual kei, rockabilly, hip hop, and punk outfits, in addition to fast food outlets and so forth.
Omotesandō has recently seen a rise in openings of up-scale fashion shops such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada. The avenue is sometimes referred to as "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées". Until 2004, one side of the avenue was occupied by the Dōjunkai Aoyama apāto, Bauhaus-inspired apartments built in 1927 after the 1923 Kantō earthquake. In 2006 the buildings were controversially destroyed by Mori Building and replaced with the "Omotesando Hills" shopping mall, designed by Tadao Ando. The area known as "Ura-Hara", back streets of Harajuku, is a center of Japanese fashion for younger people—brands such as A Bathing Ape and Undercover have shops in the area.
Harajuku as it is now traces its roots to the end of World War II during the Allied occupation of Japan. U.S. soldiers and government civilians and their families lived in a nearby housing area called Washington Heights. It became an area where curious young people flocked to experience a different culture and stores in the area stocked goods marketed towards middle and upper class Japanese and Americans.
In 1958, 'Central Apartments' were built in the area, as living quarters for occupying American forces. After the end of the American occupation, the apartments were quickly occupied by fashion designers, models, and photographers. In 1964, when the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo the Harajuku area was further developed, and the idea of “Harajuku” slowly began to take a more concrete shape.
After the Olympics the young people who hung out in the area, frequently referred to as the Harajuku-zoku, or the Harajuku tribe, began to develop a distinct culture and style unique to different groups and the area. From this distinct style grew the culture of Harajuku as a gathering ground for youths.
The term "Harajuku Girls" has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku. This fashion infuses multiple looks and styles to create a unique form of dress. The cyber-punk look takes its influence from gothic fashion and incorporates neon and metallic colors.
Punk style in Harajuku mainly consists of dark colors, plaid, chains, and zippers. Punk style is also one of the more gender-neutral fashions in Harajuku. Ganguro style symbolizes or parodies the idea of the American teenager. The term translates to "black-faced". The basic look is what Westerners would call a "California girl", with bleached hair, dark skin, fake eyelashes and nails. It is not clear how Ganguro evolved. Many assume[who?] it originated in the early 1990s, and was meant as a way of rebelling against the traditional Japanese ideas of beauty, which are typified by pale skin and dark hair. Cosplay is more of a costume-based style. A cosplay enthusiast will usually dress as a fictional or iconic character from a band, game, movie, anime, or manga.
Ura-Hara is another section of Harajuku, which caters to a mostly male population interested in a hip-hop, graffiti, and skater fashion and culture. Ura-Hara is seen as the opposite of Harajuku in that it’s more hidden and reserved.
Some countries have embraced this culture and arrange meetings under the same fashion as their Japanese counterpart. For example, in Colombia they are frequently held at the surrounding area of the Virgilio Barco Library in Bogotá. In Paris, the area around Opéra Bastille is a well-known meeting place for manga-inspired youngsters who follow emo subcultures.
Gwen Stefani famously dedicated her two solo albums as well as her multi-million dollar fashion line "L.A.M.B" to the Harajuku Fashion scene as her inspiration. "Harajuku Girls" is also a fashion line created by Stefani in the U.S. It is considered a designer brand and is sold at various department stores.
See also 
- Rebels on a Bridge: Subversion, Style, and a New Subculture. 2008
- (2005-10-21), "Shop-till-you-drop hints in fashionable districts of Harajuku and Omotesando". The Japan Times, ; Otake, Tomoko (1998-06-02), "High-fashion bikes hit the streets of Harajuku". The Japan Times, ; Godoy, Tiffany (2007-12), Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion; Lomrantz, Tracey (2005-11-28), "Hipsters of the World, Unite! Rebellion via consumption comes to Tokyo". men.style.com, ; (2007-09-10), "Geekipedia: Tokyo". Wired, ; Ashcraft, Brian (2007-10-23), "Japanese Schoolgirl Watch: Take-What-You-Want Sample Salons". Wired, ; Altman, Daniel (2005-10-09), "Sneakers in Tokyo". The New York Times, ; Considine, Austin (2004-12-19), "A Scene-Hopper's Atlas". The New York Times, ; O’Flaherty, Mark (2005-01-09), "Fashion: Tokyo teen spirit". The Times, .
- "Face to face with Harajuku". Metropolis. December 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- Rusling, Matthew (February 15, 2005). "Attention Avid Shoppers: A High-End Complex Opens Its Doors". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- "Omotesando Hills Project Page". Mori Building. July 18, 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- "The view from the Hills: Minoru Mori defends the Omotesando Hills development and reveals big plans for Tokyo". Metropolis. February 3, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- "Behind the Scene". Metropolis. January 19, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- Nagata, Kazuaki, "Trendy Harajuku draws crowds", Japan Times, 1 February 2011, p. 3.
- Yoshimi, Shunya (2003). "‘America’ as desire and violence: Americanization in postwar Japan and Asia during the Cold War". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4: 440.
- Godoy, Tiffany (2007). Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashions. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-5796-3.
- Knight, Magda Harajuku Girls - The Heart of Modern Japanese Fashion. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
- Harajuku girls, el encanto de las lolitas (Spanish) Shock Magazine. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
Further reading 
- Stefani, Gwen Harajuku Girls: Japans influence on an American Artist ratemyfresh.com
- Suzuki, Chako Pretty Babies: Japan's Undying Gothic Lolita Phenomenon fashionlines.com
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- www.harajukustyle.net Harajuku Photos and Fashion Information.
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