The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may be two years away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.
The Harajuku district is regarded as one of Tokyo’s must-see neighborhoods for its international reputation as the epicenter of youth culture and street fashion in Japan. An obsession with “kawaii” — the Japanese concept of cuteness — influences Harajuku’s shopping and entertainment offerings.
Harajuku has evolved over the years from a commerce hub that once catered to U.S. military families post-World War II to a hot spot for fashion designers and artists. Today, the district incorporates international brands while maintaining its colorful, local character.
The presence of kawaii in the district’s streets creates an almost dreamlike atmosphere, with art and thoughtful decoration around every corner. For example, the Moshi Moshi Box embodies the kawaii aesthetic while introducing visitors to the area, providing sightseeing information and inviting karaoke aficionados to sing some J-pop (Japanese pop).
To see more vivid manifestations of kawaii, check out Takeshita Street, where trendy local boutiques, cat cafes, vibrant street art, pop-up photo booths and dessert shops coalesce to form one of Tokyo’s busiest thoroughfares. Many who frequent Takeshita make fashion statements with pastel hairstyles, bright clothing and over-the-top accessories.
Another popular stop for tourists in Harajuku is Jingu Bashi, the bridge between Harajuku Station and the Meiji Shrine. Cosplayers (those dressed as characters) and performers have long flocked to Jingu Bashi, cementing Harajuku’s trendy reputation.
To reach Harajuku, take the East Japan Railway Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station. The line, one of the city’s busiest, loops through some of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions.