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Archive for the 'Takeshita-dori' Category


Japanese Fashion Magazines: Gothic & Lolita Bible

I’m going to try and focus on the fashion magazines and books that are common in Japan for the next few posts. This information may not be complete and accurate, because my Japanese is poor and a lot of the information I’m finiding is quite old. If there’s anything that I’ve said incorrectly or something that you want to add, please feel free to add to it in the comments.

While I was still in Japan, my housemate purchased the highly appropriately named Gothic & Lolita Bible. This thing was a tome. It was huge. And fairly hugely priced at a bit under 2000 yen. The Bible has many articles, interviews with Visual-kei artists that goth-lolis so often idolise, catalogues, photos, manga and even outfit designs for budding cosplayers and gothloli heads. In theory, it’s published quarterly but don’t bet on that. It seems to be pretty erratic.

Image from

The Bible is a huge success in Japan (and around the world as Gothic Lolita and EGL became popular outside of Japan) and has spawned some spin-off magazines. The Gothic & Lolita Extra Volume seems to be just a collection of things that couldn’t fit into previous volumes. It looks like there is only one of these, but more may appear in the future. The Gothic & Lolita Hair Make Bible focusses obviously on the hair and make-up techniques and trends followed by gothlolis and finally the Gothic Lolita & Punk Brand Book is basically just a catalogue of fashions available. It has photos of all the typical fashions you can find for sale along Takeshita-dori and Harajuku.

I’ve seen it available for sale in quite a few places, but you probably won’t find it at your local 7-Eleven store. Akihabara has stockists given that a few of the maids in the maid cafes also follow Goth Loli fashions. Our sponsors at JList will sell you subscriptions, no matter where in the world you live.


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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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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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Out of Place?

Harajuku, as you may well be aware, is the home of crazy Japanese fashion. Every Sunday, the goths, the decorers, the punks, the visual kei fans and the cosplayers go out and parade themselves in front of cameras and the general public.

Takeshita Street is a famous pedestrian street filled with the shops where these people buy their fashions from. So, in amongst all the goth and french maid outfits, I spotted this shop here, which seemed to be just a cheap clothing shop for middle aged women, like you would see anywhere else in Tokyo. In fact, there was a smiling middle-aged lady there to cry out ‘Irrashaimasse!’ to the passers by.

Was she lost, I wonder? Why they heck does she think her clothing will sell well in Harajuku? Perhaps it’s the latest fad and we will see it in upcoming issues of FRUiTS.

Strange Shop

Strange Shop


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A sunday afternoon in Harajuku

(At least) one of them is a man… XD

FRUiTS at its best

Complete with loose socks!

Decorer style


Yip! Yip yip yip! Grr grrr!

I hope they’re cosplaying O_o

Matching brides of darkness and light!

Lolita and Gothic Lolita

I love this hat!

Very cute outfit! Love the shoes!

See? Guys can be decorers too!

The key to decorer fashion: ACCESSORISE!

Frilly parasol!

Haha! Cool glasses!

Girls dressed up Ganguro style

Leg warmers are a great touch

Why go to all the effort of ripping your clothes yourself when you can buy them pre-ripped?


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Shoichi Aoki’s other magazines

Shoichi Aoki is one very cool 55 year old. I wrote about his magazine FRUiTS yesterday, but he has two other magazines that he publishes monthly.

STREET magazine again follows street fashion, but from the major cities around the world. It was started by Aoki in 1985 in London, and is still going strong today. It’s fair to say that STREET magazine helped introduce street fashion to the Japanese youth.

The cities he visits each issue are printed on the cover, and it is available by subscription (or you can order back issues) from the website.

TUNE magazine is a mere 10 issues old. It is based once more in Japan and can almost be seen as a male version of FRUiTS (which isn’t entirely true since plenty of males appear in FRUiTS). The photos aren’t necessarily limited to Harajuku either, the spiritual home of FRUiTS. Nevertheless, if you like your street fashions to be a bit grittier and masculine, TUNE is for you.

Back issues and subscriptions are available again from his website:

While thse two magazines aren’t as famous as FRUiTS, they are very interesting to read to see where Aoki has come from (STREET) and where he’s going (TUNE).


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FRUiTS is a monthly magazine published by photographer Shoichi Aoki in Japan. It started in 1997 after Aoki noticed a new trend in fashion among young people in Harajuku. Instead of a fashion trend that was dictated by designers, this was a trend started by the young people themselves.

Young people would mix traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos or geta sandals, with Western or local Japanese designs, even with punk clothing. These people were not brand obsessed like most Japanese people are known to be. They developed a “Harajuku Free Style” fashion trend which Aoki wanted to document in FRUiTS.

Since the trend began in the mid-nineties, the street style has expanded to cover many sub-genres, like punk, Decorer, Gothic Lolita or just kawaii.

The trend has died down in recent years – probably due to the fact that Omotesando (the main street in Harajuku) isn’t closed to cars on Sundays anymore, so the FRUiTS kids no longer have anywhere to hang out. Aoki still manages to publish a magazine each month though, especially since the magazine has achieved cult status in both Japan and overseas.

FRUiTS is a great look into the minds and fashions of Harajuku youth and is available by subscription, or in two volumes of books from Phaidon Press.
Photo by Shoichi Aoki
Photo by Shoichi Aoki
Photo by Shoichi Aoki

The official website
Buy the first FRUiTS book from Amazon and support!
Buy the second FRUiTS book from Amazon and support!


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