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Photos:  Zervos, Gillame, Hideki
Harajuku is the well-known shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo, famous for the bizarre street dress and make-up styles of its young adults.

Harajuku station is on the western part of Tokyo's JR Yamanote Line loop (not the subway), two stations south of Shinjuku and one station north of Shibuya

The crowded narrow streets next to the station, such as the Takeshita Dori (shown on the photo's page of this website), are crammed with boutiques, food outlets, toy, bargain, photo and electronic specialty stores.

The station adjoins Yoyogi park, one of Tokyo's largest. It is a popular Sunday entertainment venue and site of the Meiji Jingu shrine.

The famous short but wide foot-bridge over the rail-tracks connects Harajuku station with Yoyogi park. A camera is a must for tourists visiting the bridge or the park. On Sundays (only Sundays) the bridge becomes a popular gathering place for a cult of young adults, mostly female, who wear and show off the bizarre fashions designed by themselves and known as the Harajuku style.

The unique designs are inspired by English Victorian dress, European fairytales, Japanese manga characters and American heavy rocker wear. The make-up and hair styles are also self-created.  Making up and dressing in these fashions is known as cosplay, short for costume play, but there are many sub-cultures with their own unique themes. Both the males and females are mostly young people aged from 18 to 25, but Cosplayers of all ages often get in on the act. The styles range from colourful and outlandish to classy and elegant. They are designed by the wearers themselves and each spectacular outfit attempts to outdo the others.

The name "Harajuku Girls" is the English media's term applied to the young women of Harajuku who dress in these outfits.  The Harajuku youth culture has quickly spread throughout the globe. It has been popularised in movies, songs, magazines and videos.
The singer Gwen Stefani has recorded albums about the Harajuku cult and even tours with her own performing group of "Harajuku Girls". Christina Aguillera, Posh Spice and other celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon. Miley Cyrus has taken to the cult and is now seen everywhere in her "Harajuku Lovers" sweaters.

Every Sunday the young women gather to socialise on the footbridge at Harajuku station, displaying their fashion creations to the curious tourists who come to see them.  Most  Cosplayers are happy to have their picture taken, many of them hoping to be noticed by the foreign magazine photographers who mingle in the crowd..

The male fashions are not quite as bizarre. They are limited to Elvis, Rock-a-billy and heavy metal rock styles. While the females congregate on the bridge, the males gather in adjoining Yoyogi park showing off their musical and dancing talents. Elvises, rock-a-billies, rock bands and various street musicians line the pathways of the park performing next to each other,  competing for the attention of the passing crowds.

The park is crowded on Sundays with tourists visiting the shrine, or enjoying the action. Sunday at Yoyogi park is a popular day out for Tokyo families.


The foot bridge at Harajuku station.


 

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