Harajuku, Little Tokyo, and Me

Harajuku in Los AngelesI don’t pretend to understand Harajuku, the eclectic fashion that originated in Japan and spread across the world. Well, its spread to Los Angeles anyway. I say I don’t understand it not because I don’t understand it’s appeal, I love it, but because I don’t think I could put together the dizzy display of dozens of details all in one outfit, including wig, printed dress with contrasting petticoats, wild shoes and various adorable knickknacks worn as fashion accessories. I’d feel silly, but the girls in the “Lolita” ensembles in the Little Tokyo shopping mall in downtown Los Angeles looked charming. 

My husband and I stopped at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants for dinner one night in late October and took some video of the street party going on around us. In the video you glimpse me wandering through the pretty outdoor mall while the girls in their Harajuku outfits go about their business. I’m wearing a much simpler ensemble of dark jeans, black blouse and a sparkly silver sweater. Normally I would feel rather dressed up in so much metallic, but next to the colorful Harajuku costumes I seem to fade into the shadows.

Harajuku in Little Tokyo

Music by Johnny Ripper. The song is called “June” from the album Outsider.

My outfit seems very simple in comparison to the girls in their fun dresses and wigs. This was one of the rare situations where I felt underdressed! I’m wearing a wonderful chain and rhinestone necklace my aunt gave me for Christmas last year with a sparkly silver sweater that I bought this year to take me through the holiday season. Also featured is my Target sequin clutch. Underneath all the bling are a pair of new black denim jeans and a sheer black blouse I’ve had for many years.

Do you like Harajuku style? (Please note I realize I’m simplifying a vast and unique fashion trend, but I just don’t know enough about the subcategories of the look to speak on it with any authority. If you’re interested in learning more about the culture of Harajuku please check out HarajukuStyle.Net.)

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19 Responses to Harajuku, Little Tokyo, and Me

  1. une femme d'un certain âge November 11, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Such a pretty video! It’s been AGES since we’ve visited Little Tokyo; makes me want to go again.
    une femme d’un certain âge recently posted..Outfit: Bold MovesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      You should stop by! It’s not the Little Tokyo I remember either. It’s very vibrant now, and filled with people.

  2. MARLA ROBINSON November 12, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Beautifully filmed video. I would love to visit that area. I don’t understand Harajuku either.

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi Marla. Little Tokyo is an outdoor mall near Downtown Los Angeles. It used to be quite sleepy, but not anymore!

  3. Christine Kolek
    November 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    What a great video and wonderful topic. I am not one who understands Harajuku, either. I have spent time in Asia and have been around girls/women who dressed in this style and I must say that I truly appreciate their sense of style. There is a sense of confidence that they all seem to have and it really shines through. Thanks for sharing such great content!
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    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Hi Christine! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment too. I’m glad you like the Harajuku look too!

  4. nofearoffashion November 13, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    To me the appeal is “dressing up”. It reminds me of my youth when you could dress up from a trunk with lots of grown up clothes.
    Not my kind of style, but if someone feels good in it: please do. It makes the world very pretty. As it is nice to look at.
    Stylewise I go for your gorgeous outfit. Very good to keep the trousers and blouse simple.
    Unfortunately I saw too little of you in the video. Not even a close-up of your necklace. What a shame.

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Sorry about the lack of close up Greetje. The videos just kind of happen. Sometimes we get lots of great detail shots, sometimes we don’t. It’s kind of random. Glad you like the Harajuku though!

  5. 33 November 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    This street style site is a good one to have a glimps of Tokyo street style (lots of “interesting” outifts).


    Harajuku/Lolita/Anime/Cosplay are self expression, just like those who are into vintage dressing (poodle skirt, 50’s house wife, mod, Mad Man etc.). They are into a certain look and take time and trouble to maintain it. I’d say good for them. It makes street scene more interesting, better than cookie cutter mass market fashion looks.

    Life is mundane enough, expressing a personal POV thru window dressing is a great way to make life a tad more interesting.

    And you did look “simple”, in the best way possible, because it fit you. You look really good in this outfit, hit all the right notes. I really like how you did your hair. It is super flattering to your face, fiqure, and your style preference.

    Jtown has come a long way. Now it is a hot spot (thanks to the arts district and the new downtown hipster crowd).

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi 33! So glad you enjoyed the article. I agree with you. It’s fun to see young people expressing themselves in a different way. The girls (and some boys!) in their Harajuku outfits looked really cute and were really expressing themselves creatively. As for Japan Town and Little Tokyo, it’s a total hotspot now! I remember when it was totally sleepy. Not anymore. It’s like a party every night of the week.

  6. Arash Mazinani
    November 16, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Great post, I’ve come across Harajuku before but not really looked too deeply into it. I think Japan has a number of subcultures that have their own dress, which I find fascinating. There’s a whole new world out there in the far east when it comes to style. I occasionally browse a website called ‘yes style’ that sell Korean and Japanese brands. They have some really great menswear on there, but I’ve not looked into the womenswear. You should check it out.
    Arash Mazinani recently posted..Iranian Street StyleMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      Hi Arash. I will have to check out that website! Japanese pop-culture fashion is a lot of fun. Love it!

  7. popcosmo November 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Gorgeous video! You know, for the first time, Harajuku made me think of all the neon in the background as a “stage dressing” for the outfits. I haven’t had much exposure and wish I could visit and see it in person! Thanks for the glimpse. And love those jeans!
    xo ~kim & chloe
    popcosmo recently posted..Going Dotty!My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      Hello Kim & Chloe and thanks again for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts. I hadn’t seen much Harajuku fashion in person either, until Little Tokyo! It’s a lot of fun.

  8. Heidi Weaver November 18, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    I think this a very informative article about Harajuku fashion styling. As a personal follower of Japanese traditional dresses I find them very attractive.

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Hi Heidi! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I also like Harajuku fashion, I just don’t know how to wear it myself! I really enjoy it on other people though.

  9. Stacey - Total City Girl
    November 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    I don’t know much about it but it looks like fun!
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    • Heather Fonseca November 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

      Thanks Stacey. It’s a fun look. I’d love to see your photos of Harajuku!

  10. Ken August 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    I have not been there for more than a decade.
    I hear that Little Tokyo is invaded by Koreans like other Japan town all over the world.
    The restaurant is not a fake one run by Japanese-pretending-Koreans, is it?