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Harakado: Harajuku’s Newest Shopping, Lunch, and Installation Art Spot

Harakado, or Tokyu Plaza Harajuku, is an iconic new part of the Tokyo landscape, with great Harajuku souvenir shopping, dining options perfect for a quick lunch, and plenty of places to relax amid Harajuku’s wild crowds.

Harakado

The newest addition to the Harajuku shopping scene, Harakado (Tokyu Plaza Harajuku) has been intriguing both locals and travelers over the past few years as the building’s jagged shape slowly grew from the ground, and eye-catching reflective glass was placed on every surface to catch the sunlight. The new destination is one of many shopping and entertainment facilities popping up in a frenzied post-pandemic boom across Tokyo, but the striking architecture, unique facilities, and spectacular location at the heart of Harajuku make it an instant stand-out. Designed to bring together different parts of the Harajuku area using “knit design,” from the hallowed traditions of Meiji Shrine to the high-end designers of Omotesando, Harakado is (according to their PR team) “a new kind of shopping district.” After its opening in April 2024, the Japankuru team decided to check out the shiny new Harakado to see what the fuss is all about!

Unique to Harakado

Harakado is mainly a shopping and dining complex, but some of its most attention-grabbing facilities are something a little different, and some are available totally for free. Perhaps the most obvious new feature is Harakado’s multi-floor cascading open-air terrace, with a whole forest’s worth of greenery used to divide the area into sections of outdoor seating, a grand staircase, plenty of popular photo spots, and space for seasonal events too, all looking out over Harajuku’s busiest intersection.

Down on (mainly) the second floor, Cover is one type of attraction you don’t normally find in a shopping mall: it’s a library. But don’t expect to get a library card and borrow books – this is no ordinary library. Cover focuses exclusively on magazines, and the spectacular collection spans genres, decades, and even continents. There are teeny-bopper magazines from the early 2000s, lifestyle magazines from the 1970s, even issues of nature and science-focused publications from throughout the years. And while the majority of the magazines are local issues from Japan, English speakers who do a little searching will also find plenty to read! The magazines can’t be checked out, but whether you spend a minute leafing through one or two periodicals on your way through, or you sit in one of Cover’s chairs to read vintage fashion mags for an hour or more, it’s worth stopping in to take a look.

Harakado’s fourth floor is called “Harappa,” a space designated for “chilling out in nature” and “experiencing Harajuku” via a variety of installation art pieces, ranging from sustainably sourced wooden benches to an enormous red orb symbolizing the sun. The floor’s ample seating offers plenty of spaces to sit and relax for a bit while exploring Harajuku, with some seats arranged around the art, and others pushed towards the floor-to-ceiling windows so you can look out at Harajuku. Over in one corner, the only business on the fourth floor is the Harakado Cafe, where thirsty visitors can grab a cup of coffee to sip while enjoying the art.

This may come as something of a surprise to overseas visitors, but Harakado has its own sento (Japanese public bath)! Located in the mall’s basement, the sento is called Kosugiyu Harajuku, and it’s not free to enter. But for anyone interested in trying out a Japanese public bath (or anyone who already loves sento), it’s almost certainly worth the small fee (~520 yen at time of publication) to enter the bath and experience the classic sento experience! Don’t miss the murals of Mt. Fuji on the wall, and remember to drink some milk when you get out – it’s the Japanese way. There’s even a little tatami mat rest area next to the bath, where bathers (and other visitors) can hang out and relax for free.

Harakado Shopping

The main shopping areas at Harakado can be found from the ground floor up to the third floor, and the broad selection includes everything from designer fashion to the kinds of unusual fashion, cosmetics, snacks, and home goods that make great souvenirs. There are even a number of shops that toe the line between art gallery and gift shop! Next to the entrance on the first floor, Jo Malone London is the first shop many people are likely to notice, and the Dior on the other side of the building will be sure to draw attention once it opens in autumn 2024.

Harakado has plenty of Harajuku souvenirs at a more affordable price, though! The super “kawaii” pretzel-shaped gummies at Japanese candy shop Hitotubu Kanro Harajuku are so popular (thanks in part to the insta-bae packaging) that shoppers often need to take a number to even enter the shop, and customers browsing on the second floor are frequently lured onto the premises of Yubune thanks to their selection of fragrances and “meditation cosmetics,” especially a limited-edition Harakado scent available nowhere else. Shops like Teras offer items made with traditional Japanese artisan techniques, whereas places like OSHI BASE offer merchandise from Japan’s latest popular characters from manga, anime, or internet creators. (Travelers who find themself interested in the spicy side of Japan will probably want to check out the variety of adult toys and wacky merchandise available at Tenga Land, too!)

Harakado Dining

Last but not least, Harakado really stood out to the Japankuru team as a needed new addition to Harajuku thanks to all of its casual dining options. Sure, Harajuku is known for crepes and other trendy street food, but when you’re tired of the crowds along Takeshita-dori Street and just want to sit down for a little lunch, many of Harajuku’s dining options are cramped and crowded. But Harakado’s fifth and sixth floors are dedicated to food and drink, with more than 20 dining options to satisfy a range of palates, and the seating is pretty abundant too.

Restaurants offer up falafel, Vietnamese banh mi, Mexican food, Korean fried chicken, burgers, pizza, Chinese, and of course plenty of Japanese options too. Talking Gorilla is equally popular for its menu of yakitori grilled chicken and Japanese curry and its eye-catching layout designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Next door, FAMiRES is an offshoot of the Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant Sio, but FAMiRES focuses on the kinds of classic Japanese-Western fusion dishes found in local casual eateries, with a menu featuring “Omelette Rice,” “Hamburger Steak,” and “Melon Cream Soda.” During our visit, the Japankuru team decided to grab lunch at Shikin, a popular Harajuku machi chuka restaurant (町中華/Japanified Chinese food) with a new second location in Harakado, where we ordered flavorful gyoza and pepper steak napolitan noodles – a fun take on Japanese-Chinese fusion cuisine!

Add a New Spot to Your Harajuku Itinerary

Thanks to the striking architecture and the prime location, Harakado is already drawing visitors in from the busy Harajuku crowds, but the multi-floored shopping complex has a lot to see and plenty of easy-to-miss hidden treasures. Whether you’re looking for a place to grab lunch, a quiet spot to sit and read, an art-filled cafe experience, an open-air spot for fantastic photos, some Tokyo souvenirs, or even a refreshing bath beside Mt. Fuji, we hope this quick Harakado guide will leave you better prepared to make the most of your next visit to Harajuku!

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