Every Sunday, young people dressed in a variety of styles including gothic lolita, visual kei, and decora, as well as cosplayers spend the day in Harajuku socializing. The fashion styles of these youths rarely conform to one particular style and are usually a mesh of many. Most young people gather on Jingu Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that connects Harajuku to the neighboring Meiji Shrine area.
Harajuku is also a fashion capital of the world, renowned for its unique street fashion. Harajuku street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Kera, Tune, Gothic & Lolita Bible and Fruits. Many prominent designers and fashion ideas have sprung from Harajuku and incorporated themselves into other fashions throughout the world.
Harajuku is also a large shopping district that includes international brands, its own brands, and shops selling clothes young people can afford.
Harajuku as it is now traces its roots to the end of World War II during the Allied occupation of Japan. U.S. soldiers and government civilians and their families lived in a nearby housing area called Washington Heights. It became an area where curious young people flocked to experience a different culture and stores in the area stocked goods marketed towards middle and upper class Japanese and Americans.
In 1958, Central Apartments were built in the area and were quickly occupied by fashion designers, models, and photographers. In 1964, when the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo the Harajuku area was further developed, and the idea of “Harajuku” slowly began to take a more concrete shape.After the Olympics the young people who hung out in the area, frequently referred to as the Harajuku-zoku, or the Harajuku tribe, began to develop a distinct culture and style unique to different groups and the area. From this distinct style grew the culture of Harajuku as a gathering ground for youths
he term "Harajuku Girls" has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku. This fashion infuses multiple looks and styles to create a unique form of dress. The cyber-punk look takes its influence from gothic fashion and incorporates neon and metallic colors.
Punk style in Harajuku is more of a fashion than a statement. Its fashion mainly consists of dark colors, plaid, chains, and zippers. Punk style is also one of the more gender-neutral fashions in Harajuku.
Ganguro is a style that symbolizes the average American teenager. The term translates to ‘black-faced’. The basic look is what Westerners would call a ‘California girl’, with bleached hair, dark skin, fake eyelashes and nails. It is not clear how Ganguro came to be. Many assume[who?] it originated in the early 1990s, and was meant as a way of rebelling against the traditional Japanese ideas of beauty (pale skin, dark hair, etc.)
Ura-Hara is another section of Harajuku, which caters to a mostly male population interested in a hip-hop, graffiti, and skater fashion and culture. Ura-Hara is seen as the opposite of Harajuku in that it’s more hidden and reserved.
In addition to Harajuku is its counterpart, known as Visual Kei. this refers to the style of bands and their fanbase. The term Visual Kei literally means a ‘visual style of music’. The melodies of the music these bands perform often resemble eighties rock, heavy metal, or techno; in some cases, the sound is a good mix of the three. The fashion began in the 1980s, when American metal bands were popular. Japanese fans loved how their idols would dress frantically and paint makeup wildly on their faces, so they began to emulate their style. This mimicking is also known is costume play, or cosplay.
Some countries have embraced this culture and arrange meetings under the same fashion as their Japanese counterpart. For example, in Colombia they are frequently held at the surrounding area of the Virgilio Barco Library in Bogotá In Paris, the area around Opéra Bastille is a well-known meeting place for manga-inspired youngsters who follow emo subcultures.