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Boglarka Toth

Introduction to Tourism
Josai International University, Faculty of Tourism
January 15, 2015

Shopping tourism in Harajuku

Shopping is among the most common and enjoyable activities undertaken by people
on holiday and, in many cases it provides a basic motivation to travel. With the growth of
transportation, increased technology and widespread use of credit cards, people have been
able to travel for shopping.
The relationship between shopping and tourism can be devided to two categories. The
first is where the primary purpose of the trip is shopping. The second is where the shopping is
done as a secondary activity during a trip which might be motivated primarily by something
other than shopping. Shopping as an added attraction to the destination being visited probably
accounts for the majority of tourists. Nonetheless, shopping as a primary reason for taking a
trip is an important factor for millions of travelers each year. For these travelers three primary
factors stand out most clearly as the reasons behind traveling for shopping: the merchandise
being sought, the destination selected, and price advantages. However these may overlap and
work together as reasons for travel.
It is not uncommon for people to travel to search of specific items they wish to buy. Some
people travel to specialized destinations where they can purchase items from expensive
jewelry and clothing, to less expensive products or souvenirs.
Dozens of places around the world developed into well-known tourist shopping
destinations, either purposefully planned to be such or by default simply because they offered
products that people found desirable. Shopping malls, too, may become tourist destinations in
their own right. Lot of malls with their growing services has elevated their role as resources
for tourism and recreation.
Besides the place and the product, price is one of the most influential factors in shopping
tourism. The cheaper the prices in the destination, the more popular the destination would be
for shopping. For instance, one of the main destinations of Harajuku is one of the biggest
Daiso 100 yen store in Tokyo which is known to be very cheap.
Since recently shopping tourism is getting popular, a lot of travel agency organizes
shopping tours to make shopping easier in the destination. These kind of tours are especially
in demand at Tokyos famous shopping districts, such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza or
Harajuku. As a host of the kawaii culture and other fashion trends, these areas are
internationally famous to people who adore shopping and fashion.
To connect these, and other major stations in Tokyo, the Yamanote Line was built. The line
opened in 1885, but the loop was completed just in 1925. Today, about 3.68 million
passengers ride every day on the Yamanote Line, with its 29 stations.

Since Harajuku, Shinjuku and Shibuya, Tokyos main shopping districts are near to each
other, transportation is easy for those who wants to enjoy the main department stores around
the area.
In recent decades Harajuku, with its unique culture, became one of the most popular
fashion and shopping areas in Tokyo. Nonetheless Western people just recently discovered
Harajuku culture, the areas history is much longer.
Before the Edo period, Harajuku was a small post town on the Kamakura Highway. In the
Edo period, the Iga ninja clan was put here to defend Edo, due to its strategic location. The
livelihood of the farmers that time was mainly rice cleaning and flour milling with the
watermill at the Shibuya River. However, due to the poor quality of the land, production never
At the beginning of the Meiji period in 1868, the land around Harajuku Village was owned
by the shogunate. However, in the same year, the towns and villages of Shibuya Ward,
including Harajuku Village, were placed under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Prefecture. In
1906, Harajuku Station was opened as a part of the Yamanote Line. Later, in 1919, Meiji
Shrine was opened to the public which drew more tourists to the area. At the end of World
War II, Harajuku was the site of the U.S military residences. Japanese youths gathered here to
see the Western products and culture. During the post war occupation, military barracks
known as "Washington Heights" were built on land that is now occupied by Yoyogi Park and
the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Shops that appealed to the US soldiers and their families
such as Kiddyland or Oriental Bazaar opened this period. In 1964, swimming, diving and
basketball events for the Tokyo Olympics were held in the Yoyogi National Gymnasium
which attracted thousands of visitors.
In the 1960s and 1970s Japans new generation saw its country to rise from postwar ashes
and becoming the second most powerful economy by the end of 1980s. The youths of this
period were the creators of the Harajuku scene. In the 1970s, as the new Harajuku culture was
born, the area become a market for new fashion. Thanks to the growing popularity of the
district, the Laforet shopping center was opened in 1978, and quickly became widely known
as the centre of fashion. When Japan entered its economic boom during the 1980s, people
started to spend more money on consumer goods. At the same decade the Takeshita Street
became a popular shopping street. In 1977, near to Yoyogi park, a large zone became open to
public on Sundays. Soon, dozens of teenagers wearing extremely bright costumes in vivid
colors gathered to dance there. Their exciting performance attracted such attention that the
number of members rapidly increased. In the peak period up to 10,000 people gathered to see
their performance. However in 1996, the Sundays only pedestrian paradise was abolished.
After Japan recovered from the financial crisis during the 1990s, in the 2000s with the rise of
fast fashion, a lot of international store opened in Harajuku, including Gap Inc., Forever 21,
Uniqlo, Topshop and H&M. This helped to attract not just Japanese, but also international
Since Harajuku is one of the most popular destinations in Tokyo, as mentioned above,
travel agencies started to organize shopping tours in the area. The main purpose of these tours
are to introduce Harajuku culture and fashion to visitors, so the main spots are usually places
like Takeshita Street, Laforet, Harajuku Bridge (also known as Cosplay Bridge), Cat Street,
KIDDY LAND, or Daiso 100 yen shop.

The most famous attraction in Harajuku is probably the Takeshita Street, which begins at
the "Takeshita Exit" of Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line. The shopping street
became popular in the 1980s. Since then the streets shops target Japanese teen girls with
offering clothes of subcultures such as lolita, punk, gothic or hip-hop. There are also
numerous crepe shops, restaurants, a few international brand shops, ticket sellers, and other
types of businesses. This part of the street is often packed with thousands of colorfully
dressed Japanese junior high school students and tourists and locals are usually gather there to
watch them.
An other interesting attraction in Harajuku is the Daiso 100 yen shop. Daiso was founded
in 1977 by Hirotake Yano. Today Daiso has a range of over 100,000 goods, has 2,500 stores
and 700 in 25 overseas counties like South-Korea, China, Australia, the U.S, Mexico and
Indonesia. Daiso also makes shopping easier for international costumers by offering floor
guides and product description on English.
KIDDY LAND is one of the main spots in Harajuku with its fantastic selection of toys and
other products including a Snoopy Town and Hello Kitty Shop on a total of five floors.
KIDDY LAND is a national chain with over 80 toy stores throughout the country from
Hokkaido to Kagoshima.
One of the oldest stores in the area is the Oriental Bazaar sourvenior shop, which had its
beginnings back in 1916, with the opening of a small antique shop. In 1951, after the World
War II the store moved to its current location. They offer various Japan related goods from
reasonable priced Japanese kimonos and miscellaneous goods, to high quality Japanese
traditional furniture and antiques. Oriental Bazaar makes shopping easier for international
visitors by accepting US dollars and euros, and shipping large or heavy items to overseas.
However, Harajuku gained popularity not just because of the unique youth culture and
fashion. Those who are not interested in fashion and Harajukus kawaii culture still can
enjoy places like Meiji Shrine, Togo Shrine, Yoyogi Park, National Yoyogi Stadium or the
NHK Studio Park.
Tokyos greatest shinto shrine, the Meiji Shrine was completed and dedicated to the
Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920. The shrine was destroyed during the World
War II. but was rebuilt shortly thereafter. The main complex of shrine buildings is located a
ten minute walk from Harajuku Station in a middle of a forest with 100,000 trees. The trees
are said to have been donated by 100,000 visitors from all over Japan.
Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo's largest city parks, featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested
areas. Before becoming a city park in 1967, the area served as the site of the Olympic Village
for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and before that, as a residential area for US military personnel.
Yoyogi Park is located next to Meiji Shrine, 5 minutes walk from Harajuku.
Located on the edge of Yoyogi Park, the National Yoyogi Gymnasium was built in between
1961 and 1964. The arena was used for swimming and diving events in the 1964 Summer
Olympics. The arena holds 13,291 people and is now primarily used for ice hockey, futsal,
basketball or concerts.
With these main attractions, and other interesting places in Harajuku, the areas popularity
is growing among international tourists. However crowded streets, small shops and the
language barrier might be scary for a first-time visitor. Thus to make the trip easier, a tourist
organization started an information centre, called MOSHI MOSHI BOX in the heart of

Harajuku to make sure visitors get the most out of their time in the exciting neighborhood.
Besides giving visitors important information in English about the neighborhood, such as
where to eat, what to buy and how to find their way back to the train station, visitors can also
charge their smartphones, use free Wi-Fi, change money, or even ship their souvenirs back
home. This centre makes foreigner tourists life easier, so they are more encouraged to visit
Harajuku district, and discover its unique culture.
Since shopping in many cases can be a major motivator for travel overseas or closer to
home, several places have become popular shopping destinations. It is a natural fit with many
other activities like sightseeing, attending events, and visiting museums or historic sites.
Thanks to the recent popularity of shopping as a tourist activity, shopping tours have
developed and have become popular in recent years, and will attract probably more costumers
in the future.

Book sources:
Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet: Tokyo city Guide. Lonely Planet. 2012
Tiffany, G. Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion Tokyo. San Francisco: Chronicle
Books. 2007
Timothy, D. J. Shopping Tourism, Retailing, and Leisure. Multilingual Matters. 2005
Internet sources:

oriental bazaar