🇯🇵 Harajuku: Takeshita Street and Kawaii Monster Café

This post is the seventh in a series on our honeymoon trip in Japan. The previous post recounted our adventures in and around the Shinjuku area. There is more to come recapping our nine days in Tokyo!

The entrance arch to Takeshita Street, with many pedestrians walking. On the left, there is a building with a metal staircase, and stairs leading downwards, and on the right, a glass high-rise building and a Yoshinoya restaurant

Takeshita Street

I was looking forward to visiting Harajuku again, though at the same time I think a little part of my heart sunk. Last time I was in Harajuku, gothic lolita was within my style, but I couldn’t afford to buy a lot of clothes, so my wardrobe was a lot of cheap quality trendy things that didn’t last a while. As I’ve gotten older, my style has changed. I’m not sad about how it is now, but it’s a more classy look. I’d never taken the opportunity to embrace and fully immerse myself in some of the very individualistic and wacky styles that come out of Harajuku.

The entrance arch to a busy street, called Takeshita Street. The arch has a banner hanging towards the top, an LED screen with advertisements, and colourful balloons creating a smiley shape and heart shape at the top of the arch
The entrance to Takeshita Street

But I let that slide. It turns out that the cool kids around Harajuku have more or less disappeared and the influence has been on the decline since 2000. It’s more of a tourist destination now, and you don’t see a lot of people with unique fashion sense.

Takeshita Street still has a lot of accessory shops and stores you can buy some interesting clothes. I bought a few pairs of funky socks from a store called WEGO. I wish I had bought more, though – I bought a sparkly pair and a light blue pair with a white cloud print. I really like the sparkly socks and wish I had bought at least a couple more pairs. 😆 I have had the weirdest obsession with cute ankle socks recently.

Last time I was in Harajuku I did buy some clothes and jewellery, but as I mentioned, the clothes were not really to my taste anymore. Nick and I did enjoy crepes, though. I wanted to go for a sweet crepe, but my stomach really wanted a savoury one!

Two girls and a man waiting in front of a kiosk serving food. Menu items are visible on a panel above the kiosk window
This was just one of the many crepe places on Takeshita Street…
Many fake plastic crepes on display in a glass store front, indicating various flavours
Too many to choose from!
A man’s hand holding a rolled-up crepe containing strawberries, Oreo biscuits and whippe dcream
Nick got a sweet crepe with Oreo

Meiji Jingu shrine

On the way to Meiji Jingu shrine we passed a café that specialised in cookies. I couldn’t resist the smell and I actually wanted a snack. The girl at the counter welcome and spoke to us in English. It turns out she was from Australia too. We ate the cookies as we walked and oooohhmigod. They were delicious. 🍪

A tall arch made from wood, surrounded by people on the ground. Tall trees are visible
On the way to the shrine we had to walk through a park

We went to Meiji Jingu shrine after exploring Takeshita Street, and explored the surrounding grounds. Someone was getting married and the couple was in traditional Japanese dress. There were some wedding guests waiting outside a hall, who looked like international visitors. They spoke English and they caught our attention because while we had seen a lot of tourists, we saw a lot of people who weren’t Japanese but dressed up in suits. There were even some children dressed up in yukata, and some of them were very cute.

Large gates at the entrance to a shrine. Some low buildings and big green trees are within the grounds to the shrine. A man walks towards the entrance from the left, but close in proximity
The entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine

Whilst at the shrine we paid a hundred yen to get our fortune on a piece of paper. I don’t really remember what mine said, but Nick’s said something about a mirror being reflective of the present. It seemed appropriate at the time. 😜

We passed a bonsai display as we walked around, and overall it was just nice walking on the gravel and feeling the breeze of the high trees.

A wide path covered in gravel, with a large gate in the distance. In the foreground to the left are some stalls displaying plants
The bonsai was likely part of an exhibition – it wasn’t really supervised, and you couldn’t get close and touch them because it was roped off
Large, aged bonsai, roots visible and some blooming flowers
Some super extravagant bonsai, probably worth thousands of dollars
Small plants with yellow flowers sitting in shallow round trays, atop a bed of small grey rocks
Have I ever mentioned that Nick likes bonsai?
Me and Nick with sunglasses on top of our heads, holding each other close, with some green trees in the background
Getting close to nature

Harajuku Kawaii Monster Café

We visited Harajuku again on a different day, when it was quite rainy. We got a little lazy in the morning, so this was a bit of a late start… I guess we sort of skipped having a proper breakfast and then went to the café. Though, I should point out that breakfast isn’t a huge thing in Japan so you won’t be finding many cafés or places to eat breakfast at. So maybe what we did was kinda normal? 😛

Nick looking off-camera, in a restaurant setting with a black-and-white checkered floor and colourful decor, some resembling big trees and others looking like toadstools
Nick is not impressed by this decor
Two tied dark red drapes in the foreground. A waitress in a black frilly dress with light curly hair stands in the background, next to a giant sculpture of a cake with horses on it
I acknowledge that some of these photos look kinda bad. 😳
A sculpture made from what appears to be shiny plastic, resembling a cake with thick icing and horses like a carousel. Round coloured lights on the sculpture and hanging above the sculpture light it up
I know, the quality of this photo probably makes this look bad.

The Monster Café is known for its colourful food and crazy decor. It is considered one of the things in Harajuku that still holds what people know as the “Harajuku style” – big, bright colours, waitresses in eccentric dress, and the overall zany feel that has been lost from Takeshita Street over the years.

When we arrived, we noticed there were various themed areas of the café, but not all of them were available to us. We just made a choice, I can’t remember what each area was. I think we chose the one that had something to do with a garden. I vaguely remember the other areas being something like a tea party and one like a bar.

Red and green leaf-shaped panels hanging from the ceiling amongst some lights
On second thoughts, this looks like too much haha
A large plastic rectangular cake with a digital screen on top, resembling an iPad
The menu is a cake.

The menu was a big block that resembled a cake. I take it that it was an iPad in cake-shaped housing. Nick and I ordered got some fruity drinks and both ordered colourful pasta. Of course, Nick ordered the white carbonara sauce while I went for the tomato sauce. 😎 It tasted like regular pasta, not top-of-the-line stuff. It was just really interesting that we were eating rainbow-coloured pasta! 🌈

Two wine-shaped glasses, filled with fruit and cream, on square cardboard coasters
A bit of a naughty drink
Me sitting at a table, with a white palette-shaped dish of colourful spaghetti pasta in red saurce in front of me. A drink in a round wine-shaped glass also sits on the table.
Food is more fun when it is colourful, aye?
Colourful spaghetti with grated cheese and red tomato pasta sauce on a white plate
Looks like monster food.
Colourful spaghetti with grated cheese and white pasta sauce on a white plate
Nick’s pasta. I’m not such a fan of carbonara haha

There was a bit of a performance where the waitresses hyped up the people in the café and started playing loud music. Children were encouraged to dance to the music, and colourful lights animated the café. Then someone dressed up in a giant purple monster costume came out. I assume it was the café’s mascot. We took the opportunity to get a photo. 🤪

Me and Nick, smiling, standing on either side of someone dressed in a giant fluffy light purple monster costume. The monster has a large tongue and big eyes. I am making two peace signs with my hands.
Making the peace sign as per usual

I wouldn’t say the café is 100% worth visiting, but if you are in the area and want to add another themed café to your list, go for it. My photos didn’t capture the decor very well. I’ve probably just made it look tackier than in real life!

Two basins in front of a mirror, bordered by giant colourful tiles. The basins are transparent, revealing colourful balls sitting in a bed underneath.
Even the bathrooms were themed…!
Walls in a bathroom covered with clourful square tiles, with a classic chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
The bathroom walls were completely colourful
Restaurant setting with a black-and-white checkered floor, and large decor resembling trees
Looks like a dark jungle inside. May not be your thing.

We did actually explore some of the streets in Harajuku, looking for clothes and just browsing. I found a lot of thrift stores but nothing that I really felt like buying. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Stay tuned for another post on Japan soon! 🏯

Photos in this post were taken by me or Nick on our iPhone 7s.

Although we returned from our honeymoon a while back, you can see the rest of our honeymoon adventures with the hashtag #thecookeshoneymoon on Twitter (mostly me) or on Instagram (mostly Nick). 💖

Other posts in this series:

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Ahhhh, congrats Georgie on getting married!! I haven’t caught up with you since then but I am soooo happy for you and Nick! It looks like you celebrated with an awesome honeymoon! You definitely deserve it :)

Crepes are so underrated here in the US, or at least in the midwest where I am. One of my favorite parts about traveling is the crepe stands that are everywhere! I pretty much always opt for a sweet crepe and if there’s Nutella, I want it haha. I’ve never seen it where they’ve put actual oreos in it though!

That cafe is absolutely insane! It’s almost overwhelming with all the bright colors, but it definitely would be a fun experience eating there! I like that they had different sections too that you could pick from. We have a Rainforest Cafe in the USA (not sure if they are international too) that this kind of reminds me of. It’s like you’re eating in an actual jungle and there’s animals that make noises and it’s pretty fun!

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I’d like to explore Harajuku more one day! The last time I went, I think it was during a popular time, and Takeshita Street was absolutely packed, so we avoided it. That’s sad that its influence has declined though. I read that there’s still one day of the week where people gather to show off their fashion? Not sure how accurate that information is though.

Aahh, those crepe places look so cute. The crepe Nick got looks tasty!

I did happen to visit Meiji Jingu while exploring Yoyogi Park though! I think it’s a lovely place to walk around. That’s neat that there was a bonsai display going on while you were there. They look so pretty!

I was tempted to go to Kawaii Monster Cafe! I had looked it up before, but we didn’t fit it in. And um, wow, that decor really is as bright and over-the-top as I had seen on other sites. Your drinks and pasta look cute though! That’s too bad it’s not totally worth visiting, but I can see it as being a kind of fun place if you’re in the area. (I do love those bathroom walls though, haha.)

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I’m loving your Japan posts, Georgie! It’s top of my travel list, and it’s so great to see all the amazing things to do and see there. Definitely will be looking back at all of these if I ever get to go.

Harajuku looks amazing. Even though it doesn’t suit your own style now, I still bet it was really cool seeing all the fun clothes! Those crepes looks fantastic too! I want one now (even though it’s only 9am rn).

I’d love to go to that cafe. When I saw the photos I thought it was candy laces, and didn’t realise it was actual spaghetti. That’s so cool! I love the decor as well – it’s so cute and fun. I don’t think we have anything like that at all in the UK (might be wrong though haha).

Glad you enjoyed your time there!

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