The only thing that earns more camera snaps than the tuna at the Tsukiji Fish Market is the Japanese teenager.
There are few neighborhoods in the world that are as synonymous with fashion as Tokyo's hip Harajuku District. Thousands of visitors flock to the area for its many boutiques, fashion malls and chain stores but most of all, they come for its people. And to be more specific, for the adolescents who hangs out on Harajuku Bridge. Here, “goth loli” girls and young rockabillies with greased quaffs seem commonplace amid extravagantly bespectacled “Elton Johns” and bemohawked punks.
Only in Tokyo can exaggerated flourishes of self-expression exist beside contemplative tranquility. Set in the heart of the Harajuku fashion playground is Meiji Jingu, the elegant Shinto shrine dedicated to the 19th century Emperor Meiji and his wife. An undeniably beautiful temple complex.
However, in a seemingly alternate universe in Harajuku, maid cafés – one of the city’s most beloved crazes – have become a staple of local otaku (geek) culture. Young women, donning all sorts for servile attire, wait on customers with very particular demands. You can order a beer with a side of ‘smile’ from your hostess. You can even ask your waitress to act like your younger sister (which is, interestingly one of the most popular demands).
Youth culture in Harajuku flourished after the Second World War, when Allied forces occupied Japan and American soldiers lived in the Harajuku area. Tokyo youths started to browse through the Western goods in local shops and mixed them with Japanese items. The new street style buzz attracted many fashion designers and fashionistas to the area, making it the one-of-a-kind experience it is today.