Hustle and Bustle of the City/Trends


Courtesy: Sean Pavone/Getty Images
Photograph by: Sadaji Akaishi/ On collection at Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum

ShibuyaShibuya, Evolving from an Entertainment District to a Youth Fashion Hub
During the Edo period, Shibuya was the border between Edo and its outskirts. Passing through this area was the Oyama Kaido Road, currently known as Aoyama-dori Avenue. At the time, Shibuya was a bustling settlement along the highway. More recently, with private railways connecting Shibuya to the outskirts and Toden and subways connecting it to the city center, Shibuya experienced a population boom during Japan’s post-war economic growth, bringing together people from the outskirts, and developed into a major hub station with department stores. In 1951, a ropeway connecting rooftops of Toyoko Department Store and Tamaden Building was installed and the area began teeming with a planetarium and movie theaters, turning into a family town. The later addition of youth-oriented shopping centers such as Shibuya Parco, Marui, and 109 transformed Shibuya into a youth town in the 1980s. The scramble intersection, where young people arriving day and night cross after exiting train station ticket gates, has drawn attention as a place where throngs of people come and go. During big occasions such as Halloween or sporting events, the area turns into a fairground while the lights are green. The stunning sight of hoards of people crossing the intersection all at once has made this a popular spot for foreign tourists to take pictures.

HarajukuThe Youth Town of Harajuku, Once a Pedestrian Haven
Harajuku, a town now famous for its youth fashion. How this came to be had to do with Japan’s defeat in World War II. American occupation forces were stationed in what is currently Yoyogi Park and Washington Heights was built as their housing complex, and so stores catering to the stationed American military personnel began sprouting up in Harajuku. Washington Heights was later restored to Japan and was turned into an Olympic Village for the Tokyo Olympics, which is when cafes and stores carrying new fashion goods opened and young people started gathering here. This youthening happened from the end of the 1970s through the 1980s. Using the pedestrian zone of Harajuku as a stage, those wearing gaudy fashion from a boutique on Takeshita Street called “Boutique Takenoko”, known as the “Takenoko-Zoku”, and those dressed in rock and roll garb known as the “Roller-Zoku” would dance on these streets. This attracted many visitors, filling the streets with dancers, performers, and spectators. While this pedestrian zone was abolished in 1998, distinctive “kawaii” fashion lives on in Harajuku, primarily on Takeshita Street.

“Omotesando (Shibuya Ward), December 5, 1986”/”Omotesando (Shibuya Ward), August 1, 2012” On collection at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

OmotesandoFrom a Road Leading to Meiji Jingu Shrine to a Cutting-Edge Town
Omotesando, now lined with buildings of famous brands, was established along with Meiji Jingu Shrine, which enshrines the Meiji Emperor, during the Taisho era as a road leading to the shrine from Aoyama Street. Even today there are two enormous stone lanterns marking the temple road at the intersection where Aoyama Street and the temple road meet as well as at the intersection on Meiji Street in front of the shrine. The reason the Omotesando area became a center of fashion was because “Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments” started being used for commercial purposes. After World War II, apartments were sold off individually and boutiques and galleries moved in, turning the area into a cutting edge center of fashion along with “Harajuku”. “Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments” were rebuilt into “Omotesando Hills” in 2006, developing as a district that attracts the fashion-conscious and serves as a hub for the latest adult fashions and trends.