Though you may think Harajuku is solely the center of Japan’s pop-culture, kawaii fashion and punk boutiques, and viral street food trends, it is also home to sacred and historical sites you’ll want to see for yourself.
If you take a turn away from the crowded Takeshita-dori just outside the JR Harajuku Station and past a gigantic cypress torii gate on the edge of Yoyogi Park, you’ll find the 103-year-old Meiji Jingu Shrine.
This Shinto shrine was constructed in 1920 to commemorate the late Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The 175-acre shrine field accommodates not only shrine buildings, but also a deep forest with a river, ponds, several gardens, a restaurant, teahouse and museum.
Spend a little time walking around the beautiful, peaceful grounds. Why not pay respect at the main shrine with a traditional Japanese way by bowing twice, clapping hands twice and then bowing once again? Center yourself before heading into the madness of Harajuku’s crowded shopping streets.
Takeshita-dori is one of the busiest shopping areas in Tokyo. The 350-meter street is brimming with tapioca tea and crepe joints and fashion boutiques. Young people and tourists flock to this area for kawaii (cute) accessories and souvenirs. Takeshita was once the epicenter of Tokyo’s new pop-culture and has been influential overseas.
Midway through the madness, is another spot steeped in Japan’s history. Togo Jinja, a Shinto shrine, is dedicated to the memory of Admiral Heihachiro Togo. During the Russo-Japan War from 1904-1905, Togo and his combined fleet led Japan to victory by destroying 34 of Russia’s 38 warships in the Battle of Tsushima.
Today, the shrine is a stop for those seeking success in business, in competition, or examinations.
Harajuku is great for walking and sightseeing since there are many options to grab a snack or drink if you get hungry or thirsty during your journey. The neighborhood cafes are dedicated to aesthetics and Instagrammable food and drinks, so get your phone ready.
One café with an interesting feature is Anakuma Café, where you order from a screen and your order is presented by a bear paw through a tiny window.
Harajuku is definitely a busy place with a lot to see and many treats to try. Here history and pop culture coexist giving you an opportunity to experience both in one spot. Check it out!