Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shopping in Tokyo: Lolita Fashion

   I know some of my readers are most likely into lolita fashion, and having visited Japan roughly 8 times and having worn lolita fashion since 2004, I'd like to share with you my guide to lolita fashion shopping in Tokyo!

This will cover all styles but mainly focus on sweet lolita since it is my field of expertise.

   Now everyone knows about Harajuku, but it isn't the be-all and end-all! Oh no! But it IS the best place to find cute accessories as well as lolita stores. 

 Which days should I go?

   Week days! I can't stress this enough! I understand that a lot of you want to go on the weekends to take pictures of all the people dressed up and such, but the truth is that on the weekends, it's just packed with people so while you may see a higher number of lolitas on a Sunday (though not that much higher) it is way too crowded to take photos of them. A walk from one end of Takeshita st to the other on a normal day, without stops, will take you about 5-10 minutes depending on how fast you walk. However it will take you about 30+ minutes to get from one end to the other on a Sunday. So unless you can't make it on any other day (or you like wading through large crowds) do not go on a Sunday!

Takeshita St on a Sunday.


 But where will I be able to see the lolitas and other Harajuku fashions?

   There are many people walking around different areas of Tokyo in lolita and other fashions, especially in Shinjuku. However the best place to visit is Yoyogi Park on Sunday. It used to be that all of the cosplayers and fashion lovers would have out on the bridge near Harajuku station, however due to policing this is no longer the case. (Although you can still sometimes see people hanging out around the corners) Instead, cross the bridge and turn LEFT. Do not go towards the large gate, it's a trap! Well not really but if you walk down that path you'll see a lot of trees, and historical things but no fashion. So go left and follow the path and you should reach Yoyogi Park. There you can hang out, listen to rock bands, talk to the many different kinds of people there and possibly even see some of the infamous rockabilly guys!

The entrance to the park looks like this!
Okay so I know which days to go now, but where should I go?

   Well Takeshita St in Harajuku is always a good place to start. It's really easy to get to as well, simply take the JR Yamanote line to Harajuku station and exit via the Takeshita Dori exit. Now Takeshita St doesn't have that many lolita stores, it is mostly cute fashion stores and accessory stores. However there are two places you can visit, Bodyline and Closet Child. Bodyline is very easily spotted, it is on the second floor of a building with a balcony and has a store called Yellow House at the base of the stair case and a performance costume store beneath it. (And trust me, this store is NOT hard to miss!  )

   Closet Child is a little harder to find. It too is on the second floor of a building but it's stair case is concealed. Even in my years of visiting I still sometimes miss it the first time I walk past it. The key is to keep looking up, it has a window display and some small signs so as long as you keep looking up you should be able to find it. It has 3 floors also, the first floor has lolita fashion and hime-gyaru fashion, the second floor carries gothic and punk fashion and the third floor carries Emily Temple Cute and similar fashions.

   Takeshita St also has a lot of side streets and back streets that are worth exploring too, as well as hidden treasures up hidden stair cases. It's all a matter of where you look. There are a lot of places that appear to be nothing but if you explore a little you might just find something interesting. So don't be scared!

So where else to go in Harajuku besides Takeshita St?

   At the opposite end of Takeshita St from the station, if you turn right you will eventually reach Laforet. BUT STOP. Wait. Before that, on the way to Laforet, you will pass a kebab stall run by enthusiastic foreigners, if you turn into the building that it is placed outside of you will come to a set of elevators, take the elevators to the 7th floor and you will reach Innocent World!

   Okay now on to Laforet. Laforet is a huge shopping center and is very hard to miss, it is filled with a number of wonderful stores but it's basement is where the good stores are! B1.5 contains Angelic Pretty, Alice and the Pirates, Atelier Pierrot, h.NAOTO, BPN, Metamorphose, Maison de Julietta, Nile Perch, Putumayo and Swimmer. On 2F you will find Jane Marple and on 4F you will find Emily Temple Cute. However if you are into other alternative fashions B1 is worth checking out too!

   Another good place to go is Harajuku St. You won't find any lolita fashion down there but there are a number of awesome stores including Nadia Flores En El Corazon, 6% Doki Doki and Candy Stripper down there. If you continue along Harajuku St you will eventually enter into Cat St which also has many amazing fashion stores! I've noticed that many people don't bother to walk down Harajuku St as compared to Takeshita St it looks quite boring, but I promise you it is worth it. Harajuku St is located directly across the road from Takeshita St's exit.

The entrance to Harajuku St.

Where else is a good place to shop for lolita fashion in Tokyo?

   Shinjuku! Well, not all of Shinjuku but Marui One in Shinjuku is (in my opinion) the best place to shop for lolita fashion. Marui One is quite a walk from Shinjuku station but it is very worth it. To give you an image of what it's like, it's basically a lolita's paradise. There are floors and floors of pretty stores as well as a whole floor dedicated to lolita fashion. The building is built in such a way that you need to walk through each floor to get to the escalator that will take you to the next level. It would take me way too long to explain all the goodness but here's a list of the stores of interest you will find in Marui One Shinjuku:

Alice and the Pirates
Angelic Pretty
Atelier Boz
Baby, the Stars Shine Bright
Emily Temple Cute
Excentrique
Jane Marple
Jesus Diamante
KERA Shop Angel (Carries Mary Magdalene, Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, Chocochip Cookie and a number of other brands)
La Parfait
Metamorphose
Milk
Salad Bowl

   The easiest way to get there is to take the Kabukicho exit from Shinjuku station, you should see a building with a giant television screen on it called ALTA. Turn right on that street and just keep walking straight down the main road. You will get there eventually.

UPDATE: On my recent trip to Japan I found out that this store no longer exists. It was indeed a very sad day for me. If you walk a little further from the old location of this building (which is now a JTB bank) you'll find the new Marui annex however it only has retained a fraction of the stores that the previous building had. The list of stores that moved to Marui annex can be found here.


Well that's all the information I have for you guys! I've probably left a tonne of stuff out so feel free to ask me any questions and I'l do my best to provide you with useful answers.

Until next time Sugar Dolls!