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Archive for the 'Omotesando' Category


Isaburo Bags

Let’s go upmarket for a moment. Isaburo 1889 was established, as the name suggests, in 1889 by Isaburo Matsusaki. They specialise in high quality, custom leather luggage products. They have headquarters in the famously fashionable Omotesando.

The showroom doesn’t contain products for sale, but examples of leather and designs which, after you mix and match, are put together over a month. They use traditional leatherworking techniques along with modern day techniques.

Image from

It’s the kind of shop that has a philosophy, which, along with the Omotesando address, tells you that if you have to ask how much the bag is, you can’t afford it. The bags are high quality and very unique however. From their website:

One of the sources for our inspiration was a sea turtle. Sea turtles are known for their habit of continuous traveling. Some of them travel an enormous distance. They hatch in Okinawa, swim across the Pacific, stop by Hawaii, and finally reach California. They then travel the same course back to Okinawa for breeding. Their lives are repetition of such traveling, and for hundreds of centuries they have continued this process. Throughout this extremely long period of time, they have evolved into the current unique form, the soft body protected in the hard, round shell. It is not unnatural for us to associate the structure of the turtles with well-made luggage.

The rucksacks can be purchased outside of Japan from Dynamism, but you won’t be able to customise your purchase. Prices start from US$699. No news sadly on the beautful women’s handbags.


Isaburo 1889 (English and Japanese)


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Street Fashion Photographers

PingMag has once again come up with a great article on Japanese fashion. This time, they interview some of the photographers responsible for those ’street fashion’ shots from Harajuku and Shibuya. I’ve written about Shoichi Aoki earlier – the photographer behind FRUiTS magazine, amongst others, but he is far from being the only man witha camera in Harajuku.

One thing that this article really highlighted for me is the breadth of magazines in Japan. In this article alone, there were magazines mentioned that were aimed at 20 year old men, young couples and women who ride bicycles.

Photo from

PingMag: Interviewing Omotesando Street Fashion Crews


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Omotesando vs. Takeshita-Dori

In Harajuku, the two most famous streets are arguably Omotesando and Takeshita-dori (Takeshita Street). But what’s the difference exactly? What do you see in each street? First I’ll write about Omotesando.

Omotesando is a huge traffic thoroughfare, with three lanes in either direction and 100,000 cars travelling down it daily. It joins Omotesando subway station with Meiji Shrine next to Harajuku station. It also has wide footpaths with trees lining the length of the street.

Image by Abrahami. Taken from

Yes, it is on Omotesando where you’ll find that famous bridge where young people meet and hang out on Sundays, dressed up in their crazy finest. That’s at the end of the street just before the gates to Meiji Jingu. Most people interested in seeing these Harajuku kids will want to come to this bridge on Omotesando.

Photo by Matt Watts.

But the rest of Omotesando is quite different to what you’d find on this bridge. Surprisingly, it’s quite upmarket. The uber-expensive brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada all have stores there. So do many international brands like The Body Shop and Zara. There are many so-trendy-that-it-hurts coffee shops and cafes dotted along the street. As a result, it’s sometimes known as “Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées”.

The street is also famous for being home to many design studios and galleries. All this culminates in the newly opened Omotesando Hills complex that I wrote about earlier.

There is affordable shopping on Omotesando, but you’d be better off darting down the side streets and lanes looking for little boutiques and shops where the locals go. The main Omotesando drag (particularly Omotesando Hills) is for those with plenty of cash to throw around. Still, if you want to see all elements of Harajuku, Omotesando can’t be avoided. The question now is, do I wear the strappy heels when I dress like I want to be seen, or do I wear the sneakers that won’t leave my feet bleeding at the end of the day?

Next entry: Takeshita-dori


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Where to Shop

One slightly annoying thing about Japan – if you don’t read or speak any Japanese – is that shops, bars, restaurants, even schools are pretty difficult to find. This is because they tend to be tucked into the millions of office buiidings and skyrises throughout the country. The only hint that there might be a really funky discount clothing shop in this building is a tiny, flourescent lit sign hanging off the side of the building. But it’s all written in katakana, so most gaijin would miss it straight away.

While wandering around Harajuku, I’ve taken to just exploring every nook I can find, walking downs stairs into basements, pressing random buttons in elevtaors…just to see if I can find some interesting clothes shops.

This has been successful on a few occassions, such as the time we found a ¥390 shop. Everything was ¥390 (I *think* that was the price) – including shirts, hats, shoes, bags, endless amounts of jewellery and so on. My housemate and I decided that we would choose a colour and make a Harajuku outfit based on it from items in that store. Twas great fun.

If you’re not brave enough to just randomly walk into buildings and look around, then there’s a few websites you can look at for decent maps:

superfuture has shopping maps for cities around the world, including 10 just for Tokyo. Each shop listed has a short description to it. The downside to the maps is that you can’t seem to filter out only the shops you want (eg: clothing), so the maps look quite cluttered with dots for clothing, design, bars and restaurants, etc.

One website of interest to GothLoli fans is Sumire’s Tokyo Gothic & Lolita Shopping Guide. Here you’ll find some custom drawn maps and shop descriptions for clothing shops, all of which sell Elegant or Gothic Lolita merchandise in some form. Be warned though, the webpage was last updated in 2004, and while most shops are still there, a few may have moved or closed.

If you know of any other fashion shopping guides in Tokyo or elsewhere in Japan, comment it in here.


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A Day Out in Harajuku

A few Sundays ago I spent the day in Harajuku. It was a great day, the weather was great and there were plenty of people around. As usual, the kids on Omotesando were dressed in their finest, although there were fewer than usual because the right side of the bridge (facing Meiji Shrine) seems to be getting re-paved, so it was all fenced off.

Netherless, I got plenty of photos – here are some of them. You can click on them to see the rest at my Flickr account.

Photo by Chidade
This gaijin punk received a lot of attention from the usual locals.

Photo by Chidade

It’s Decorer Stitch! Rawr!

Photo by Chidade
A GothLoli Dress for sale at Body Line in Takeshita Street.

Photo by Chidade
My favourite photo from the day. I don’t know why.

Photo by Chidade
On a Sunday stroll through Harajuku…

That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed them!


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Premade Fashion

There are many shops along Takeshita Street in Harajuku that offers pre-assembled outfits to fit in with the cool kids on Omotesando. They can be relatively cheap. Most of the are in the Lolita/Gothic Lolita vein but there are a few punk style clothes too.

It’s somehow disappointing. I got into Harajuku fashion because of what those kids could concoct themselves, not because of what they could buy from a shop.

Photo by Chidade

Photo by Chidade

Photo by Chidade

Photo by Chidade


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Omotesando Hills

Oooh the drama.

Omotesando, for those of you who don’t know, is the main street that passes through Harajuku, from Omotesando station. It is known for boutique shopping and galleries, fashionable young things and down near Meiji Shrine, the bridge where all the cosplayers and street fashion creators show off and hang out.

This week, a new complex called Omotesando Hills opened. It’s causing a lot of fuss. Mark Devlin from CrissCross News hates it with a passion, other bloggers and design fans have criticised it too, for not “fitting in” with the rest of Omotesando’s architecture.

But that’s not in the realm of this blog. What will interest you fashionistas is the fashion! There are over 93 shops inside this new mall, and while there are some of the upper end stores, it’s not overloaded with the big names like Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. There’s just a few.

Mainly, Omotesando Hills has small cute boutiques that you can easily spend your salary on. But it’s always free to look.

Omotesando Hills artist's impression

Omotesando Hills (Japanese)


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Tokyo Street Style

There are many websites on the internet dedicated to Japanese fashion and street fashion. Most are trying to sell you clothes or photos or have dozens of pop-ups. This page is different because it’s run by the JFA – Japanese Fashion Association, a registered organisation that aims to promote Japanese (and recently, Asian) fashion to the rest of the world.

Every week there are new photos categorised by the fashion hotspots around Tokyo of Shibuya, Harajuku, Ginza, Omotesando and Daikanyama. Great photos and a great way to watch how fashion evolves in Tokyo. Best of all, it’s in English.

Images from the Tokyo Street Style website

Tokyo Street Style


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Para Para photo photo!

Eurobeat music, despite the name, is actually biggest in Japan, thanks to para para. So it’s not surprising that a Eurobeat CD/LP company actually references Japan and some of the subcultures there.

While the ganguro are probably all for a spot of para para, I’m not sure I can imagine some of the alien fetishists in Harajuku in the clubs dancing to cheesy Eurobeat music. Nevertheless, this website has a small blurb and some cute photos of ganguro, Harajuku, Maid Cafe and general Tokyo fashions.

HI NRG ATTACK – A Eurobeat Para Para studio


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Saturdays in Harajuku

I made a trip to Harajuku on Saturday to show some tourist friends around, hoping we’d catch some of the kids in crazy fashions that you’d normally see in droves on Sundays. While they weren’t there in high numbers, they were still quite a few. Mind you, even without them, there’s still plenty to see in Harajuku.

Funky Boots!

A pair of Decorers

Visual Kei

More strange fashion



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