By: Madison Ross, Volunteer Office Intern
Hi everyone! My name is Madison Ross, and I am a new volunteer at Morikami working specifically within the Volunteer/Docent Coordinating Department. With the staff and volunteers offering such kindness and the architecture and landscapes offering a visually pleasing experience, I truly feel at peace here at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Because I am a military brat, I am very used to traveling, and I am eager to learn about new cultures and visiting their origins. After learning more about George Morikami himself and Japanese culture, I definitely want to make Japan my next travel destination.
There are numerous reasons why you should travel to Japan. There’s the architecture, the food, the advanced technology; you name it, Japan has gone above and beyond to prove they’re decades ahead of their time all while maintaining a traditional and serene environment. But, if there was one reason why I’d want to travel to Japan it would be for the fashion. According to Global Language Monitor, Tokyo, Japan ranked tenth in the top fashion capitals of the world in 2015. That’s because there are many districts within Tokyo that can easily stand on their own as fashionably chic hotspots for Japanese street style. So, in honor of Menswear Fashion Week happening right now, I happily will be giving you three fashion travel destinations in Japan.
Also known for encompassing smaller streets such as Takeshita Street and Cat Street within its town center, Harajuku is renowned for its encouragement of Japanese youth culture and fashion.
“There are many young people who have an excellent sense of selection creating a free style which ignores theories and fuses fashions such as mode, casual, traditional, and second-hand clothing.” –Style-Arena Japan, 2016
The locals of Harajuku definitely bring a retro vibe to fashion street style. However, it wasn’t always that way. Photographer Shiochi Aoki explains in his book, Fresh Fruits, that in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, hundreds of youths in brightly colored outfits would rush into the Harajuku street of Omote-sando to celebrate Hoko-ten also known as “a pedestrian’s paradise.” These lively outfits prove that the people wearing them were not only fashionistas, but also artists. “[I]nstead of receiving the usual brand names,” Aoki said, “they had customized the original items by modifying the cut and look of the designer label to meet their own special requirements.” Harajuku is a great fashion destination for younger people to embrace in their creativity and craftsmanship.
Let’s now enter a more hipster chic environment, Daikanyama. The city is located in Shibuya, Japan where the serene atmosphere of this region is mimicked by the fashion street style—its people aren’t really intimidated by current fashion trends. Locals opt to wearing more organic and monotone wear to match the various boutiques and cafes lined with trees and other greenery.
“It’s the perfect blend of traditional and modern; the chic neighborhood reflects the culture’s appreciation for high-quality fashion and design while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere,” says Ruby Nichols from Fathom: Way To Go.
Like New York City’s Soho, Japan’s Daikanyama captures a hipster’s lifestyle both fashionably and environmentally. This is probably the city I want to visit the most, hopefully soon, because I love it when style is effortless and takes inspiration from its surroundings, creating a sense of natural harmony.
Different from both Harajuku and Daikanyama, Ginza is known for being one of Japan’s more luxurious fashion districts. Located north of Shinbashi, Ginza is home to many leading fashion houses’ flagship stores such as Chanel, Dior, and Gucci. In terms of Ginza’s street style, you’d most likely see pastel and preppy wear in response to recent fashion trends.
“People with elegance and a relaxed vibe gather here. Luxury brand name bags and watches are must-have items. In recent years, a style has been established involving roughness and high class coexisting while mixing fast fashion brands.” –Style-Arena Japan, 2016
This is would be an ideal destination for a shopping expedition—not only for fashion, but also for popular Japanese technology and traditional keepsakes. Be sure to visit Matsuya Ginza which is one of Tokyo’s leading department stores. Time Out says, “Matsuya is notable for having in-store boutiques from the famous triumvirate of Japanese fashion revolutionaries: Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons, all of which are situated on the third floor. Traditional Japanese souvenirs are on the seventh, and shopping services for foreign tourists – tax exemption and overseas delivery – are on the third. The money-exchange counter is on the first floor.” There is definitely something for everyone, so don’t hesitate on bringing back everyone a gift from there.
I enjoy the fact that all three of these locations represent a diversity in fashion and culture. Japan is an amazing country that accommodates multiple styles to provide a favorite hotspot for everyone. Which destination is your favorite? Which destination suits your personal style the most?