The vibrant, colorful, and kawaii culture of Harajuku, Japan’s street fashion capital showcasing its youthful vibe. The epicenter of this trendy and cutting-edge fashion hub is in Takeshita Dori and its nearby alleys—with rows and rows of fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, and anything that exudes extreme cuteness. Meanwhile, head south to Omotesando Hills for a taste of prominent fashion brands, cafes, and restaurants.
Aside from the lively ambiance of Harajuku due to the influx of teens and teen-at-heart visitors, Harajuku also is a home to various historical shrines and museums. And after basking in the of fashion, culture, and cuteness, one can sink their teeth in the sweet, savory, and delicious offerings of Harajuku.
Let’s head on and unravel the delectable eats (and desserts) of Harajuku with the Harajuku food guide.
Explore kawaii dinning
Harajuku is a host to some themed cafes exuding cuteness overload both in the stores interior and how the food is prepared and served. The Kawaii Monster Café, produced by Sebastian Masuda and art directed by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, speaks for the interiors of the café: scarily cute and colorful. A lively cake-shaped carousel adorned with unicorns will greet you as you enter the restaurant. The interior is a union of glasses and life-size dessert replicas to add to the kawaii vibe. Servers are also a sight to behold in their hip costume. The entire café is segmented into four. The Mushroom Disco, which has a unique gossip section solely for the ladies. The Milk Stand festooned with animal heads drinking milk from milk bottles. The Mel-Tea Room with seats similar to melting ice cream, and décor of chocolate and macaroons. The bar area, or the Bar Experiment with a humongous jellyfish towering the bar. Must-try on the menu include Colorful Rainbow Pasta, Butcher Steak, Waffle Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken Bowl and various desserts and cereals like Colorful Poison Parfait Extreme served on colorful plates.
Sanrio, the iconic Japanese company that is known for its kawaii characters, evidently lived up to the brand with its Pompompurin Café. Pompompurin is a yellow golden retriever character of Sanrio and is the central concept in the all yellow and brown café. The menu carries curry rice and pasta sets as well as desserts priced at ¥990 to ¥1490 per set. All of these food items are branded with Pompompurin either through the shape of the rice of the small Pompompurin figurines designed on the plate.
Crepe—a paper-thin and pancake-like pastry which is either filled with sweet or savory filling. Harakuju is a home to some of the delish crepe shops in Japan. Angel’s Heart is easily recognizable with its pink heart and yellow neon light décor and shelves filled with replicas of crepes being that the store serves with prices starting at ¥350. Another early player in the crepe scene of Harakuju is Marion Crepes, which began in 1976. Marion’s blue and red stall and mirror display case of the various crepe variants. A must try crepe flavor is Marion Crepes’ #21 Custard Chocolate Special and its other offerings include sundaes and coffee.
Something creamy, something fluffy, something deliciously sweet
Croquant chou? Sounds too French, right? Well, croquant means ‘crisp’ in French while ‘choux’ is a type of pastry used in cream puffs. In Harajuku, this French treat is now given a new face thanks to Zaku Zaku – the name to go for crunchy cream puffs. The main highlight of Zaku Zaku’s croquant chou is in its crispy croquant made from the freshest egg whites and sugar combined with Hokkaido flour and the milky custard cream filling baked to perfection the coated with almonds for that additional crunch at ¥250 a piece (maximum of 12 pcs per person). The store also offers soft-serve ice cream with almond crunch at ¥450.
Your sweet tooth will be surely satisfied with the cottony saccharine rainbow-colored cotton candy of Totti Candy Factory. Also sold in this candy land are different cake pops and lollies. Each fairy floss costs in between ¥300 to ¥900.
Delectable Japanese classic delights, the Harajuku-way
For ¥290, one can savor a no-frills, but definitely yummy Gyoza served either fried or steamed at Harajuku Gyozaro. The thin wrapper fried to an absolute crisp and the savory sweet, meaty goodness explodes in your mouth at every bite.
Meanwhile, for authentic Mame Daifuku experience, head on to Mizuho. The fist-sized mocha ball served with velvety rich azuki bean paste is indeed worth trying.
To cap off your shopping and sight-seeing spree, one can either choose to relax over a good cup of coffee, a mug of a cold brew or party Harajuku style.
Pet lovers must add the Hedgehog Café Harry Harajuku. This quaint café, which features live hedgehogs that you can pet while wearing gloves. It also offers a vending machine wherein you can dispense your choice of drinks.
To those who’d like to have a crash course about coffee beans, Koffee Mameya is the place to visit. Here, coffee connoisseurs act as coffee doctors will teach you a thing or two about the darkness of the roast and the roaster where the beans came. They will also prescribe you the right bean for your preferred kind of perfect cup.
Feel like partying? This youthful area showcases a small cocktail bar hidden under transparent curtains and wooden doors. Bonobo features a library with an extensive collection of magazines about Japanese pop rock and art to the tune of amateur DJs spinning turntables freely. On clear nights, screens are opened to add additional space for dancing, barbecue while live music blaze from the basement.
Harajuku, a breeding area for anything kawaii and a face of Japan’s street fashion. Patronized by fashionistas and budding photographers, Harajuku reflects the bold, bizarre, and hip culture of Japan, an unusualness that has made its name a stand-out in the world.
Looking for a local guide to discover the food in Harajuku? Join our Kawaii Food Tour in Harajuku
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.