Wandering around the Harajuku district is like finding oneself in a science fiction film. Its parks and streets are filled with Victorian dolls, anime characters, Danny Zuku impersonators and other similar freaks. You’re guaranteed a spectacle.
For those of you that didn’t know, last autumn I spent two and a half weeks traveling around Japan’s most iconic sites. We had reserved the first and last few days for Tokyo. As the icing on the cake we decided that our last day should fall on a Sunday, the day that the Japanese youth dress to impress.
Two stadiums where built in Yoyogui Park in 1964 for the Olympics. This supposedly ignited the young Japanese interest in other cultures and fashions.
In the park and its surroundings, there began to appear young bands playing live, jugglers, tap dancers, demonstrators and people doing martial arts…
During the 1990s, the government put a ban on these activities owing to the increase in delinquency. Despite this, the park is still full of life, above all on Sundays when the residents of Tokyo flock here to escape the stress of the city. You’ll find everyone here from cyclists, young couples celebrating their wedding and of course…our beloved rockabillies.
We went looking like crazy for them, but nobody seemed to know where they were until finally a very nice man told us exactly where they usually hung out. (On exiting the metro you go towards the stadium along the left hand edge of the park and it’s about five minutes away from the station…if you were wanting to know).
There they were with their well-rehearsed choreographies and their well-worn boots.
They’ve all got a very polished look and are separated into good guys and bad guys.
There’re lots of different gangs, each of them trying to out-do the next. Some turn up their music higher than that of their neighbouring gang, so as to spoil their act and shift all the attention on themselves. They don’t want money, they just to be seen.
After seeing the park and its rockabillies, have a wander around Haraiuku that’s just opposite. It’s a shopping district for all tastes from haut corture to more gothic, punk and cutting edge clothes. It’s here that you’ll find those living and breathing china dolls, also known as “lolitas”. There are all kinds and colours, the cute and corny, the darks, the broken and tattered dolls…
Probably the most colourful, extravagant and fun people I’ll ever meet.