Style and Culture
Japan is famous for its unique traditions and Tokyo is often discussed as the city of the future - so you can understand the world's desire to experience for themselves how the two are combined. Tokyo is a city that doesn't disappoint.
The city does an amazing job fitting so much into the densely populated, earthquake-prone area - with its 13 million+ population Tokyo will never leave you bored.
At night the neon-lit streets still look like an 80's sci-fi film set, straight from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. It's crowded, things are written backwards, the trains run on time, there is no litter and barely any crime - prepare for the ultimate culture shock.
This is one of the most exciting areas for trends! Harajuku (原宿) is the area around Tokyo's Harajuku Station, between Shinjuku and Shibuya. It is the centre of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and exciting fashion styles - it's pretty cool.
Some of our fave recommendations are: Pancake days, the hedgehog cafe, design festa gallery & takeshitadori (this is a cool street in the area)!
There was also a huge selection of luxury streetwear stores, a lot of which seemed to be pioneering of a lot of the western street wear trends we have seen recently.
In the West you probably have already heard Gwen Stefani singing about 'Harajuku Girls' but Harajuku is much more 3 dimensional than that - it is an exciting area which has many subcultures of both Men and Women.
Here are some of the subcultures you might expect!
Cosplay, or 'costume play' involves assuming the persona of a well-known character from a movie, game, band or manga (comic book). This one is pretty big in America & the UK too.
Embodying a modest look based on Victorian-era fashion. The typical Lolita wears a cupcake-shaped knee-length skirt with petticoats and knee-high stockings, though the style often includes full-length skirts, corsets and headdresses.
Inspired by the punk-rock era, the punk style features all the hallmarks of rebelliousness: leather, piercings, chains, zippers and boots, with clothing generally in dark colours or plaid.
A term transliterated from the English word “gal,” gyaru style is typified by an overtly childish, girly look, often seen as a caricature of the typical American teenager. Bleached or dyed hair, and garishly decorated makeup and nails are de rigueur.
Ganguro style (roughly translated as blackface) takes the girly-glam gyaru style to a whole new level. You can tell a ganguro girl by her deep artificial tan, hair dyed orange, blonde or silver and black-lined eyes surrounded by white eyeshadow. This look is often accessorized with facial gems and stickers, false eyelashes, platform shoes and brightly coloured clothing.
Where should you go?
Tokyo has some amazing outside spaces and parks, which are all pretty much worth checking out. This was our first time in Tokyo during Cherry blossom season - this means that all the outdoors tourist attractions are a lot busier, but also 20 billion times more beautiful(and instagramable)!
This is the 'electronic district', you can find loads of MASSIVE arcades and Manga stores alongside tonnes of electronic and gadget stores. Make sure to a take a watch, because it's easy to lose track of time in the arcades - you will find many people there who look like they have done just that, and have possibly been there for a few days.
So many people go to Japan simply for the amazing cuisine - and there is so much more to offer than sushi. Here are some things we checked out that we would 100% recommend:
TEPPANYAKI/OKONOMIYAKI - This is a style of food that they bring out and it continues to cook in front of you on a hot plate, usually involving a kind of omelette/noodle/generally delicious concoction. It's great for sharing with a group or in a pair, you can find upmarket versions of these restaurants where the chef puts on a fabulous show - or simpler places were you are left in peace with your hot plate!
TAKOYAKI - These are a popular street food and a MUST try. They are essentially octopus pancake balls covered in Teriyaki sauce, we know this sounds weird but they are INCREDIBLE.
PARK HYATT - If you have seen Lost in Translation, you should defiantly go here a few cocktails and feel like you are in the film! It's quite pricey, but worth it for the view and experience.
DOMINQUE ANSEL BAKERY - Perhaps not a particularly traditional food... But their Tokyo store's pastries are famous and lovvvvvvvely!
Our Trip Highlights!
What should I look out for?
The street style!
Like many islands, being isolated from the rest of the world for so long has allowed Japan to develop a really unique culture.
Today they pull more and more influences from the western world, this combined with their own style and traditions makes for an amazing and fresh fashion scene.
Here are some of our favourites spots:
From this unique style, we see some great trends and brands emerge and move on to dominate our markets too. Below are some of the themes we saw coming through from our last few trips.