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Harajuku's main strip
Harajuku Station at night

Harajuku (原宿 "meadow lodging") About this sound listen  is a district in Shibuya ward, Tokyo Prefecture.

The general name of the area from Harajuku station to the Omotesando area. According to the current Japanese addressing system, the neighbourhood ‘Jingu-mae’ is included in this greater area. In 1965, the name of the town was abolished.[clarification needed] Harajuku spans from block 1 to block 3, including the northern end of Omotesando and present Jingu-mae block 1, but Harajuku station and the area surrounding Takeshita Street (also Takeshita-cho) lie outside the area.


While widely recognised as the district of Harajuku nowadays, it was formerly referred to as Onden, a low-lying area close to Meiji Street and Old Shibuya River (Onden River. Currently a promenade (Old Shibuya River promenade) also known now as ‘Cat Street.’) Up until 1965, the town name ‘Harajuku’ referred to the northern end of Omotesando, the tableland around Aoyama, currently known as Jingu-mae block 2, a large area of Jingu-mae block 3, and the tableland extending behind Togo Shrine in Jingu-mae block 1. On the other hand, the area from Harajuku station to the area surrounding Takeshita Street was called ‘Takeshita-cho’. After 1965, this whole area in the Japanese addressing system was unified to ‘Jingu-mae’ and the name ‘Harajuku’ was abolished.


Before the Edo period[edit]

Before the Edo period, there was a post town on the Kamakura Highway. It was said that in the Gosannen War, Minamoto no Yoshiie mustered his soldiers in this area and the hill here is called Seizoroi-saka (presently Jingu-mae block 2). It is said that as the ‘Igagoe’ reward for delivering Ieyasu Tokugawa safely from Sakai to Mikawa in the 1582 Honno-ji Incident, Onden-mura together with Harajuku-mura, were given to the Iga ninja in 1590.

In the Edo period, an Iga clan residence was put in Harajuku to defend Edo, due to its strategic location south of the Koshu Road. Other than the mansion of the Hiroshima Domain feudal lord Asano (presently Jingu-mae 4th and 5th blocks), there were many mansions of shogunate retainers. The livelihood of the farmers consisted mainly of rice cleaning and flour milling with the watermill at Shibuya River. However, due to the poor quality of the land, production never succeeded and life was tough. It is said that the farmers often performed rain-making in an attempt to aid this. There are also the tales ‘Oyama-Afuri Shrine of Tanzawa’ and ‘Worshipped on the day trip to Mt Haruna’ remaining.

After the Meiji period[edit]

At the end of the Edo period in 1868, Harajuku Village was owned by the shogunate. In November of the same year, the towns and villages of Shibuya Ward, including Harajuku Village, were placed under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Prefecture.

Until the end of the war[edit]

In 1906, as part of the Yamanote Line extension, Harajuku Station was developed, and in 1919 in line with the establishment of Meiji Shrine, Omotesando was reconditioned.

In the final period of the Pacific War in 1945, the area was burned to the ground from the Great Tokyo Air Raid by the American army. After the war, the US Air Force army barracks ‘Washington Heights’ was established as part of the land requisition of the site in Yoyogi. Shops that appealed to the US soldiers and their families such as Kiddyland, Oriental Bazaar, and the Fuji Tori opened along Omotesando.

The 1960s[edit]

In the 1960s, the Japanese addressing system implemented a change for the area to be called Jingu-mae as part of Shibuya Ward. This included the area from around Harajuku Station to Aoyama Street, and included Takeshita-machi, Onden blocks 1 to 3, and Harajuku blocks 1 to 3, all of Shibuya Ward.

In 1964, the Tokyo Olympics were held in the neighbouring Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

The 1970s[edit]

Coming into the 1970s, fashion-obsessed youth culture experienced a transition from Shinjuku to Harajuku, then to Shibuya. In 1971 Togo Shrine was established, and the building that sold fashion clothing and accessories, furniture, and other goods, ‘Palais France’, was constructed on Meiji Street near the exit of Takeshita Street. In 1978, the fashion building ‘Laforet Harajuku’ was opened, and Harajuku came to be widely known as the centre for fashion apparel.

The 1980s[edit]

In the 1980s, Takeshita Street became popular thanks to the popularity of the Takenoko Group. From 1977, a pedestrian precinct was dedicated and many young people gathered there, causing a boom in Rock 'n' Rollers and pedestrian paradise bands. In the peak period, crowds of up to 10,000 people would gather. In 1996, the pedestrian paradise was abolished.

The 1990s[edit]

In the 1990s there was an influx of famous overseas fashion brand flagship store openings. At the same time, new fashion trend shops spread in the residential areas of Jingu-mae blocks 3 and 4, and the area came to be known as Ura-Harajuku ("Harajuku Back Streets"). In 2006, Omotesando Hills was opened. In 2008, the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line was opened.

Former establishments[edit]

  • Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Omotesando Branch





External links[edit]