You don’t have to be an anime and manga fan like I am to appreciate the insanely colourful and wildly lavish kawaii clothes that Japan is known for. Especially the districts of Harajuku and Shibuya lure with seriously kawaii shops – for good reasons.
And if you want to see what cool places in Shibuya await the fashion inclined visitor, here’s a kawaii overview.
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What is Harajuku Style?
There have been some misconceptions about “Harajuku Girls” (thanks, Gwen Stefani). There isn’t an actual Harajuku style. Harajuku, being a district in Tokyo, has its own range of street styles and subcultures.
The most notable and well known among those is the Lolita style. This is what people mostly expect to find to when looking for “Harajuku girls”.
Imagine pink cupcakes with white frosting turned human, this is what Lolita is in a nutshell. Cute prints, long curly hair, big eyes are all part and parcel of the look.
A more darker version are the Gothic Lolitas. Here, the predominant colour is black but frills, lace umbrellas and decorative ribbons remain.
More is more seems to be the main goal but with the Decora style, this is taken to the extreme. Hair clips, ribbons, colours and accessories are taken to the max while still adhering to a coherent and recognisable look.
Japanese kawaii fashion subcultures follow their own codes and rules and are far from highly individualist expressions that they are sometimes mistaken as.
Of course, there is a myriad of other kawaii clothes and styles out there, including Mori Kei, Punk Lolita, Wa Lolita and Fairy Kei. Each of them speak their own visual language and aren’t a mere fashion trend.
Just a little off of Harajuku and still in Shibuya, you can stroll down quirky Cat Street. (Not to be mistaken for Cat Street Yanaka Ginza in Taito.) Here, you can find typical kawaii stores with a modern twist, so that you can easily take your picks and wear them abroad without being too over the top.
This is where the hipsters hang out and put rainbow coloured ice creams that sell for $15 up on instagram. Cat Street is more for clothes shopping, don’t expect to find the uber cool cafes in Tokyo in this street.
Address: 5-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Takeshita street is where everything happens in Harajuku. Whether you just want to have a quick stroll to admire all the playful wondrousness, bite into giant orb-sized rainbow cotton candy, food and fashion go hand in hand.
There are tons of kawaii clothing stores to step into (if you can squeeze past the masses). A few of them are mentioned below.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区神宮前１丁目
Kawaii Online Stores
If you cannot make it to Tokyo just yet or want to order kawaii clothes in advance or after your Japan trip, why not check out some of the online stores the following places provide?
Most of them are in Japanese but you can find super cute fashion from non-Japanese brands that work well with a blend between more Western cutesy styles and kawaii fashion.
This is THE go to shopping mall for visiting fashionistas. Shibuya 109 is targeted at women while the nearby Shibuya 109 caters to the male identifying population.
Photos are strictly forbidden inside but you can expect an explosion of colours, fabrics, accessories and other cute kawaii stuff. Flower hairbands, print tops and tull skirts are all part and parcel of the experience and the sales assistants look straight up out of a kawaii shop magazine.
Address: 2 Chome-29-1 Dogenzaka, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0043, Japan
Cute Japanese clothes meets Urban outfitters is how I would describe fashion brand WEGO . There are several stores across Tokyo but if you are already in Harajuku, you will definitely pass it.
The interior design is already a perfect introduction to the eclectic brand. Its kawaii fashion isn’t expensive and you can easily combine frilly tops and lacy socks with block colour shirts and plateau heels.
From pop punk over more basic evergreen pieces like jean shirts to girly styles, WEGO is a great place to start investing in kawaii fashion.
Address: 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前6-5-3 イベリアビル1F･2F
Despite the name, this multi storey shopping haven is for all ages. You will find entire floor sections dedicated to international cutesy superstars like Snoopy and the Peanuts, Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma but also Japanese classics, such as Doraemon, Pokémon and Gudetama.
I’d say take the elevator up to the top floor and then slowly make your way down from floor to floor. You can easily spend an hour here. My favourite toys were the squishy cats that, when pressed, created “meow” sounds. Put together, you could create entire songs. How utterly charming and ridiculous!
Address: Harajuku 6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Maison de Julietta
If the Lolita style intrigues you but is a bit too much for you to actually wear, why not try it out for a photo at least? At Maison de Julietta you can sign up for an lolita fashion makeover, including dress, makeup and hair.
It’s not the chepeast but cheaper than investing in a lolita dress alone. Plus, you’re in the hand of lolita style experts.
Adress: 1 Chome-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Sailor Moon Store
Can you believe it’s been more than 25 years since Sailor Moon was created? Ever since its 20th anniversary in 2012, the kickass cosmic warrior has seen a new surge in popularity and merch has been highly in demand.
So much so, that the first permanent store opened up in Harajuku. Enter a world of pink and white – the two favourite colours of protagonist Usagi Tuskino. Stock up on keychains, pocket mirrors, plushies, sweets and store exclusive items.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 1 Chome, Jingumae, 11
This isn’t a Tokyo specific kawaii shop as it is a franchise found all over the country. However, most things inside cost only 100yen, making purchases super cheap.
They have a vast array of items for sale, including stationary, dinnerware, clothes as well as stickers and keychains. If you want to grab Japanese souvenirs but don’t want to break the bank, this is the place to be. I especially loved the pocky pencils and gudetama
This little store will make all doll lovers delight. You can bring your doll and get her a makeover, including clothes, hair and makeup.
It might seem a little strange to send a toy shopping but it’s definitely kawaii. To learn more about the entire process, such as designing and making doll clothes, why not join a doll workshop?
Address: Japan, 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya, Sarugakucho, 4−３(see directions)
The entirety of Takeshita Street is a delight in pastel colours and unicorn sparkles but Paris Kids stood out to me as a very cute and organised accessory and jewellery store.
Treat yourself to a variety of ribbons on hair bands or pins, decorate your phone with lavish cases or neon hair extensions. The overall feel combines both cute and kooky. The key is standing out. Luckily, the pieces aren’t all that expensive. They even have an online store .
Address: 神宮前1-19-8, 原宿ファミリービル1F, Shibuya, 東京都 〒150-0001
On my last visit to Tokyo I swore I would hold myself back on buying clothes but then ended up with tons of cute print socks and tights. They are super practical and neccessary. Don’t judge!
Socks are a great Japanese souvenir and tutu Anna is the ideal place to find the girly and pastel kind. These socks you can wear in pop coloured plateau heels and kawaii shoes. Naturally, you can find their stores in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku.
Aside from foot- and legwear, you can get matching underwear. As typical with Japanese kawii clothes, a lot of them are covered in ruffles and lace and look definitely extremely sweet rather than sexy. Though that often goes hand in hand in Japan.
Address: 1 Chome-16-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Laforet shopping centre is filled tot he brim with epic kawaii stores but Algonquins is worth seeking out. It merges the lolita style with a more punk goth twist, which you can use for your own Gothic Lolita style.
Address: Laforet HARAJUKU 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Classic Lolita apparel is sold in abundance at Angelic Pretty. You will feel like a real life princess with the frilly, ribboned and bell-shaped kawaii clothes in soft pastel colours. A special treat are the socks exclusive to the kawaii store. Please note, however, that clothing sizes are rather small.
Address: B1.5F Laforet Harajuku, 1-11-6, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 〒150-0001
Princess One Spoon
Are we ever too old for Disney? If you just uttered a resounding NO, then this store might be for you. It’s hard to miss, being a giant blue fairy tale doll house meets castle like building in the middle of Shibuya.
After accessing through the gates, and up the stairs underneath a giant clock, you will find yourself in a little girl’s paradise. Chandeliers are hanging from the ceiling, Disney princess merchandise awaits and there is even a Sleeping Beauty room.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区神宮前4-27-4Jingumae, 4 Chome−27−4 神宮前 S ビル 神宮前Ｓビル
I am not entirely sure how to describe this place in the backstreets of Harajuku. Everything is such a blur but it is essentially a Harajuku style clothing store.
You can get smaller accessories as well as full outfits. If you are brave enough, you wear everthing together and then you blend in easily with the other visitors and sales assistants.
The 6%DokiDoki style can be described as giant candy wrapper. Hair is big, colours are poppin and make up is pure 80s love.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区神宮前4丁目28−16
If you are into wacky and odd as opposed to sugary sweet, then this store is for you. I am not entirely sure why anyone would want to wear Barbie heads as a necklace but at this shop you can.
Assist On/A++ specialises in the oddly unique and exclusively Japanese invention and styles and for seeing confusing creations alone a visit is worth it. Of course, you can also get „normal“ items, such as headphones and phone cases.
But you can also get safety masks for your kid to trim their hair or pet-shaped earplugs. It really is a wondrous land in here.
Address: Japan, 〒101-0052 Tokyo, Chiyoda, 神田小川町３丁目20 越後屋ビル 2F
Where to Stay in Tokyo
For new or short-term visitors to Tokyo, staying in the city centre is he best option. You can easily get around with public transport, especially the JR line, which stops in both the Harajuku and Shibuya districts.
Are Shibuya and Harajuku Best for Kawaii Clothes?
Tell me: Are you into kawaii clothes at all? And no matter your answer, would you want to explore some of these kawaii stores?
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