There's a few thing I wish I knew before going to Japan. The fact that no one really speaks English. Street names? Yeaaaaah. Those aren't a thing. Oh and good luck if you haven't got portable WiFi for finding anything. Culture shock. I had it. Big time.
So there were a few things I hadn't anticipated. What I was prepared for though was the shopping. Oh baby was I fucking ready. At least I thought I was. Turns out shopping in Japan is basically exactly as fucking nuts as you would hope it would be. We are talking constant eye candy. Walls of cat plushies, pink neon and a throwback to basically my dream childhood bedroom. There's something about Japan (and more so Tokyo) that feels like coming home. Here's just a few of my favourite places to shop.
This ain't you're mama's Poundland. Daiso is Japan's 100yen store and let me tell you up front, this place is straight up magical. Everyone got souvenirs here (sushi dish towels, I got them. FOR EVERYBODY.) Beauty products? You better believe I was all up in that 100yen gel eyeliner. And the snacks? Come to me delicious rose gummies and matcha green tea oreos of dreams. COME TO ME.
The bastard love child of H&M and Primark then put through a kawaii as fuck filter. This place was heaven and so cheap. So cheap. From cute bomber jackets to tulle trimmed t-shirts this is a lovely little slice of youth high street fashion. I bought so many daft little pieces of jewellery here, a sushi phone case AND went to town on this amazing bomb Barbie cosmetics collab. I bought a lot of those creepy sheet face masks folks (placenta, pearl and pomegranate, I needed the set) and perhaps the best BB cream I've ever owned. Ever.
For any lover of fruits street style, a trip to 6% Dokidoki is a rite of passage. Created by the King of Kawaii Sebastian Mesuda, 6% DokiDoki (translated as 6% interesting) is like stepping in a surreal dreamscape. The store itself was a little tricky to find (I mean you THINK a pink second story boutique in Harajuku would stick out) but it's totally worth it. As a side note, you should also definitley add Mesuda's Kawaii Monster Cafe to your hit list and visit his karaoke pod designed with the Harajuku board. Googly eyes, faux fur and tons of colour aplenty!
How to even begin to describe LaForet? It's the dream shopping centre with over 120 shops and countless pop ups. New fashion trends live and die here and it's the place to find some fresh new designers alongside some well loved indies. You can expect Batty Garage by Aymmy's (one for the Lazy Oaf fans) x-Girl Harajuku if you fancy kicking it old school and Angelic Pretty if you want to keep it cute. Say goodbye to any money you may or may not have had is all I'm saying.
Candy Stripper is another indie from Harajuku with a super cute rocker aesthetic. Everything is embellished and over-sized and a real emphasis on fun. Not one for wall flowers, Candy Stripper is loud, glam and almost tooth achingly cute. This was also where I first tried the sheets they give you for your face when you try on clothes to stop make-up getting on them. Question. Why do we not have these guys over here? Borderline genius.
Alice on Wednesday
I found this one quite by accident but man was I glad I did. With a little miniature door you need to crouch to enter, Alice on Wednesday is both exhibition and gift shop. Everything is Alice in Wonderland themed naturally and just has that faint hint of surrealism through. With stained glass windows and spiral staircases, this is a must for any Alice fan.
A standalone shop across from the iconic LaForet, Bubbles was easily one of my favourite finds. It has an easy dreamlike kinder whore aesthetic that's impossible for me not to love. Platform shoes and baby dolls in a tiny boutique that looks like a bedroom from the Virgin Suicides with a sprinkling of Kathleen Hanna.
It would be easy to lose a day to Shibuya109 - one of Japan's more prolific shopping centres. Like LaForet, the feel is young, hip and fresh - with a mix of independents, well established brands and vintage. Samantha Vega was a highlight for me for sure. And of course the hot dog bag. How I came home with any money is as confounding to me as anyone else.
Takeshita is the main shopping strip in Harajuku, and in between the crepe stands and puripuri booths are streets packed with super cute shops. It's closest spiritual sister would be Camden in the mix you'll find here. Goth, Lolita and trendy all come together in a menagerie of super cute shops. WC Takeshita was one of my favourites stocking From Esther With Love and a bunch of other totally adorable indie delights.
Baby The Stars Shine Bright
Any fan of Lolita fashion will be well versed in this cult brand. Baby The Star Shine Bright is like entering a dollhouse tea party, and while pictures aren't allowed, it's worth a visit for the dresses alone. Everything is big and frothy and high on fantasy. Lots of lace and pinstripes and pastels. It's Marie Antoinette by way of Barbie and it's totally OTT. The shop itself is small, but if you've ever been curious about Lolita style, get this one added to your list.