Between Shibuya and Shinjuku is the sprawling greenery of Yoyogi Park that dominates much of the city center. The park is home to the famous Meiji Shrine, which is sure to make the list of any traveler visiting Japan. Equally famous is the area of Harajuku, famous for its bubblegum pop aesthetic. A short walk from the cramped streets of the teenage wonderland and you’ll find the high-end fashion of Omotesando. While you can easily visit these spots separately by train or subway, incorporating them into your walking tour between Shibuya and Shinjuku is an easy way to break up your trek. If you’re touring Harajuku, you can find a map of the second part of the walking tour here.
If you followed the first part of the trek, then you should begin your journey at Jingu-Dori Park in Shibuya. From here, you can begin touring Harajuku by continuing down Meiji-Dori, which is the large road you will find yourself on. The path curves away from the park but will take you past several trendy cafes and brand-name clothing stores that will increase in number as you continue. Once you come to an intersection with signs announcing Meijijingumae (Harajuku) Station, you will have arrived at the border between Harajuku and Omotesando.
The wide, leafy avenue of Omotesando seems to ooze wealth. The area is famous for its architecture, and as you turn left and begin to ascend the hill, you should notice a number of distinct buildings on both sides of the street. In particular, it’s worth stopping into the Omotesando Hills mall. Even if you don’t have any money for luxuries inside, the building’s sloping layout, designed by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando, is unlike any other mall you’ve visited. When you’ve had enough of the high life, turn down the hill and head back towards the station to begin your Harajuku tour proper.
Once you reach the intersection again, head right, and you should almost immediately notice a change in your surroundings. Bright colors, kitschy accessories, and an endless supply of crepes await you as you enter Harajuku. In recent years a number of fast fashion chains have flooded Harajuku, and it’s not the enclave of youthful counterculture it once was, but it still offers a wide range of fashion options making a Harajuku walk well worth it.
If you’re feeling peckish and want a dining experience to complement the kaleidoscopic Harajuku landscape, try the Kawaii Monster Café. The restaurant offers surprisingly delicious food situated deep within the belly of a beast. If you want lighter fare, crepes are a popular choice and are available at several stalls and shopfronts along your Harajuku tour.
A short walk down Meiji-dori will take you to Takeshita Street. This is the main destination of any Harajuku tour. Turn left up the street and take some time visiting the clothing stores that line the avenue. Just remember, that Takeshita Street is bound to be extremely crowded, especially on weekends. The sheer number of people might not make this the best choice for people with even mild agoraphobic tendencies.
Visiting Meiji Shrine
When you reach the top of Takeshita St. You’ll be on another broad avenue and should be in view of Harajuku Station on the JR line. Walk towards and then past the station and follow the road as it curves around the station. Here you will see massive wooden torii gates and a gravel road.
This is the path to the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of the Meiji emperor and empress. The path to Meiji is a bit of a walk, but its greenery offers a nice break from the urban sprawl.
At the end of the path is the shrine itself. As one of the most significant shrines in the city it’s the site of several important rituals annually. Feel free to explore and take pictures but remember to be respectful of other visitors. When you’re ready to leave, follow the exit path back the way you came and make a stop in front of Harajuku Station. If you find that your legs are too tired to continue, you can grab a train the rest of the way to Shinjuku. Otherwise, you’re done touring Harajuku, and you can set out for the final part of your walking tour.
Post by Japan Journeys.