Amazing read. I’ve loved Harajuku since I can remember; I pulled my first outfit together inspired by FRUiTS when I was just 10 or 11 years old, for a competition at school. Together with my mum, we pulled together a bunch of my old clothes and upcycled them with new decorations and accessories, and I’ve been in love with Harajuku ever since! So to hear about the slow decline of the culture in such a way is very painful.
I come from somewhere where street art is abundant, and small boutiques and quirky stores are the norm, but every year I see more mainstream franchises move in and more of the art on the walls disappear, as the market leans more and more towards becoming like the rest of the western world. I can see why it hurts to see your culture pushed aside and stunted from growing.
The last time I went to Harajuku I noticed many of the things the article lists — shops vanishing, a lack of kids out on the scene — where as the first time I had visited, way back in 2008, I remember Harajuku flourishing with whatever people wanted to try, there were no rules, and everything was in motion. I always expected it to be a place that changes, it’s not in it’s nature to stay still after all, but I never expected to leave to quietly. I’m dissapointed in the idea of being catered to as a tourist; when I visit places that aren’t my own, I expect to be out of my depth, to see things that I’d never see! Otherwise, I’d never go!
I’ll be following as closely as possible to hear more from Harajuku’s situation. I loved this long read, it was very well put together, and easy to follow. Have you written much on the attatuide in Japan towards Harajuku since it’s beginnings? I’d love to know more about how Japan has viewed Harajuku over the decades. Thank you for your fantastic piece!