MAY 2, 2004 UPDATE: A MORE COMPLETE VERSION OF THIS GUIDE IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT http://hillieras.ld.infoseek.co.jp/gothl
Shinjuku (Closet Child, MaruiOne)
Harajuku (Takeshita Doori, Ura-Harajuku, Laforet, beyond Laforet)
Secondhand Shops and Sales
Welcome to the revamped version of my shopping guide. Please feel free to comment with corrections, additions, or your own experiences and opinions of Tokyo gothic and lolita stores.
Coming soon: Ikebukuro map, more Ikebukuro stores.
Secondhand shop Closet Child has a branch here, which I've never been to. It seems to be a little far from the main attraction in Shinjuku...
...which is MaruiOne Shinjuku (a.k.a. OneJuku), the Gothic/Lolita/Punk department store. Harajuku is still a more fun experience, but with nearly all the Harajuku boutiques and much more in a single building, MaruiOne Shinjuku is a dream come true for pure, no-holds-barred shopping.
MaruiOne Shop List (as of 2/14/04):
8F: CDs, special sale corner
7F: Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Heart E, Black Peace Now, Black Lips, Miho Matsuda, Kera Shop Angel (carries Atelier Boz, Innocent World, Juliette et Justine, MAM, Marple, Pretty, Shotgun Wedding, Victorian Maiden, Visible)
6F: Alice Auaa, Moi-meme-Moitie, Metamorphose, Emily Temple Cute, Vivienne Westwood (bags/watches/"fashion goods"), Jean-Paul Gaultier (bags/accessories)
5F: h. NAOTO, T. Kunimoto, Gouk, Kikou(?), Algonquin, Jane Marple, Beauty:Beast (goods), shoes (various brands)
4F: No Future & Six Sin Sadism(?), FOTUS, Cospa (anime stuff), Chikiriya, Bidan Shop, and many brands I don't know (mainly men's, IIRC).
2F: Super Lovers, Peace Now, Kera Shop Arena (Arachnophobia, Bibide Babi, Cutey Flash, Despair, Drug Spider, Elements, E.S.P., Freestyle, Hellcat Punks, ID Japan, MA, Na+H, PRESENCE!, Romantic Neurose by U-tan 2, Royal Funny, Sexpot, Union Jack, Virus & Vaccine, )
1F: Sexy Dynamite London, Eccentrique, Mash Mania, Naked Spirits
B1F: Hysteric Glamour, Hysterics, Ozone Rocks
Directions: Take the EAST exit (I cannot stress this enough--EAST exit EAST exit EAST exit) out of Shinjuku station. With MyCity behind you, the Studio Alta video screen in front of you, and Sakuraya electronics on your right, turn right and walk down Shinjuku Doori for two blocks, passing two other Marui buildings. After you pass the massive Isetan department store, cross the street and turn left. MaruiOne is in the middle of the block on your right.
Harajuku is probably the one place you can go in the height of gothic lolita fashion and not get funny looks (except from the scads of tourists). Let's start at the heart of Harajuku, the famous Takeshita Doori shopping street. Takeshita Doori (photo) is right across the street from one exit of Harajuku station, but if you come out the other exit and see the big Snoopy store across the street, cross the street, turn left, and walk downhill to come to Takeshita Doori.
Your first stop: Sexy Dynamite London (photo). I've never actually gone in, but according to their website, the first floor is the men's rock-style shop, and the basement is home to women's wear and a Vivienne Westwood museum. Just past the big Daiso 100-yen shop, turn left at Cafe Solare, and Sexy Dynamite London will be a short ways down the street on the right. Look for the London Underground-style sign.
Serious lolitas needn't bother with Fancy Pocket (photo) but this discount jewelry store aimed at preteens has crown rings, cross pendants, and lace legbands (for transforming ordinary socks into lolita socks) at the cheapest prices in Harajuku. Mostly very low-quality, but I could have sworn I saw the same butterfly ring at Putumayo for twice the price. Across the street from Sexy Dynamite London, on the third floor above Cafe Solare.
Back on Takeshita Doori, you'll see Takenoko, Yellow House, and Jimsinn next on the left (photo). Takenoko's gaudy sidewalk display of stage costumes (neon spangled maid outfits and tuxedos) is impossible to miss. The basement under Takenoko contains Yellow House and Jimsinn, which sell rock/punk/goth clothing and accessories for men and women.
There are many stores selling socks on Takeshita Doori, but Porta Portese (photo) has a little section devoted to gothloli socks (about 700 yen and up) just inside the entrance, and a wide variety of fun and funky hosiery inside. It's on the left, a few doors down from Takenoko, next to the 7-Eleven.
Keep your eyes on the second-floor windows on the right, and you'll spot Gothic & Lolita's blacked-out windows stenciled with famous brand names (photo). The tiny store is crammed full-to-bursting of secondhand gothic/EGL/EGA clothes, including a respectable collection of the more expensive brands, with corresponding prices.
Harajuku's other secondhand store, Closet Child (photo), is just a stone's throw from Gothic & Lolita, on the left, on the third floor above Richard's (see below) and Get Back, the Beatles shop. Not as much selection as Gothic & Lolita, but roomier and with better ambience. If you're buying something, tell them "kai-in ni naritai" ("I want to become a member") and give them your name and address in order to get the lower "member's price" marked in red. (The clerk I talked to said it was all right if your address wasn't in Japan.)
I used to think of Richard's as being mainly punk/rock, but they actually have a lot of elaborate poofy velvet gothic lolita gowns. Also has menswear, hats, and tons of silver/leather/studded adornments.The shop opens onto the street, so it's impossible to miss. On the left, diagonally across from Gothic & Lolita, on the ground floor of the same building as Closet Child.
Sexy Dynamite London main store: I didn't go inside, but this is supposed to be their punk store. Turn right on the side street opposite Richard's. SDL will be on the left, next to the Elvis Presley shop (photo) .
Mari's Rock (photo) : Red tartan, silver zippers, studs, and other fun punk (and punk/lolita) stuff. Near the end of Takeshita Doori, on the right, next to the Lotteria fast-food restaurant.
From the end of Takeshita Doori, you can either turn right on Meiji Doori and go to Laforet, or, if you dig gouK (or just can't get enough of Putumayo and h.NAOTO, which also have branches a few minutes away in Laforet), cross the street and delve into the narrow byways of Ura-Harajuku. Let's go to Ura-Harajuku first.
At the end of Takeshita Doori, cross the street and keep going straight, into a narrow street called Harajuku Doori (photo). Putumayo is on the corner about one block in, on your right, in the basement by Aeropostale (photo). For h.NAOTO and gouK, keep going past Putumayo and take the next left onto a wider street. Follow the street's twists and turns for a few minutes, and keep an eye out on your left for a metal sign with a rusty "h." standing on the sidewalk (photo). The h.NAOTO men's store "h." is in the basement there. They carry HN+DIE, D.O.A, POORS, Rockers H Baby, and interior collection h.NAOTO Rooms. The women's store "H." is another block or so ahead, also on the left (photo), also in the basement (photo). They carry h.NAOTO Blood, hb.Roots, h.ANARCHY, h.jelly, h.jelly & Honey, and HN+nois. GouK is next to H. in the basement.
Returning to the intersection of Takeshita/Harajuku Doori and Meiji Doori, turn left if you're backtracking from Ura-Harajuku (turn right if you've just come out of Takeshita Doori). Laforet department store is at the end of the block on the right, across the street from a big GAP store. While not as gothloli-dominated as MaruiOne in Shinjuku, Laforet does contain:
B1.5F: Putumayo, h.NAOTO, Pretty (Angelic Pretty and others, IIRC), Carina et Arlequin, and Atelier Pierrot (Victorian Maiden, Juliette et Justine, Miho Matsuda, Atelier Boz, Kazuko Ogawa, and others)
4.5F: Emily Temple Cute, Jane Marple
Finished with Laforet? Wait! That's not all! There are two more shops in Harajuku!
MILK: Exiting Laforet, with the GAP in front of you, turn right, cross the street to Condomania, and keep going down Meiji Doori. MILK is about a block or so down, on the right. It's easy to recognize by the clothes in the display window, wing-shaped door pulls, and uh, the doormat that says "MILK" (photo). The shop is quite small. Styles vary from more lolita-ish to more 50s/retro girly, depending on the season.
Metamorphose is another half-block beyond MILK, past the Levi's shop. When you come to the side street that veers back at a sharp angle, turn right and look for the second-floor show window with the sweet lolita dresses (photo). The stairs are on the left. Despite it being a Sunday afternoon, no customers were in the store (photo), so I'd recommend going there if you want lots of attention from the clerk.
From Metamorphose, if you keep walking down Meiji Doori and cross under the train tracks by the green pedestrian bridge, you'll reach the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station in about 20 minutes.
Here is the Ikebukuro branch of (Closet Child). Do you see it? No, you do not. I never would have found it if xevron hadn't explicitly said that it was in the same building as Gamers, INSIDE the Disc Wave shop on the fifth floor. The building is easy to find, though, since it's right next door to Tokyu Hands.
Take one of the East exits (the side that Seibu department store is on--if you're in Tobu department store, you're on the wrong side) out of Ikebukuro Station. Align yourself so the station/Seibu/Parco building is behind you and walk away from it on the left side of the street. When the trees end, follow the crowds across the short crosswalk onto the wide pedestrian thoroughfare. Follow that street past all the movie theaters, and just before the end, you'll see Tokyu Hands and Gamers/Disc Wave/Closet Child on your right. The entrance is along the little side street, and there's an elevator you can take to the fifth floor.
Books La Shin Bang (or "Rashinban," as a normal person would spell it), the secondhand anime/manga shop wedged between Animate and K-Books, carries a small selection of new el cheapo EGL dresses (I think they're from Body Line), but I don't think you can try them on--they're wrapped in plastic. (On the plus side, they sell Gloomy the Naughty Adult Bear merchandise at about 10 percent off the marked retail price.) To get to Rashinban, keep going past Tokyu Hands and cross the street. Walk around the right side of the big blue Toyota Amlux building, and Animate, Rashinban, K-Books (secondhand anime goods), and hole-in-the-wall J-rock CD shop Brand X are all up ahead on the left, across the street from the Sunshine 60 skyscraper.
Secondhand Shops and Sales
Harajuku's Gothic & Lolita (a.k.a. "Gothic X Lolita" on some signs) is tiny and jam-packed with lots and lots of stuff, so much so that I didn't really want to wrestle anything out of the racks to look at it more closely. The price tags I looked at seemed higher than at Closet Child, but then, they had more expensive brands like Gaultier and Moi-meme-Moitie (and a case of rare Vivienne Westwood knickknacks), and overall, things seemed to be in better condition. Merchandise: All kinds of things, including shoes, bags (nice but still expensive), and (I think) menswear.
I liked Harajuku Closet Child best of the secondhand stores I went to--it was well-lit, spacious, and the clerk there was nice. Not as much selection as Gothic & Lolita, though. It was there that I noticed that the price tags had two different prices on them--a regular price, and a member's price that was a few hundred yen cheaper. I asked the clerk how to become a member, and she said you just write your name and address--you don't have to pay anything. She said you could still be a member even if your address wasn't in Japan. So if you go to Closet Child, try telling them "Kai-in ni naritai" ("I want to become a member.")
Closet Child Ikebukuro was the first secondhand gothloli shop I visited. The merchandise there struck me as not in very good condition--I was expecting things to be immaculate and like-new, like at a fancy consignment shop, but the cotton sweet-lolita skirts and dresses, in particular, looked limp and rumpled, like they'd been machine-washed repeatedly, and the T-shirts looked obviously used, despite their 3000-5000 yen price tags. Merchandise: a little of everything--coats, pants, skirts, shirts, dresses, bags, etc, all major brands. The shop was dim and there was a wrinkle in the carpet that I stumbled on. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend making a special trip to Ikebukuro just for Closet Child, but if you're already going to K-Books or Sunshine City, it's convenient.
At the end of my day of hitting the secondhand shops, I went to Laforet in Harajuku, where Putumayo, Pretty, and Atelier Pierrot were still having their winter clearance sales. Some of it was seasonal stuff, like coats and heavy velvet skirts, but there were also some more versatile pieces on sale. Prices were comparable to used prices (30 to 70 percent off), but for brand-new merchandise, so I'd say the best thing is really to come to Japan in January or early February to hit the sales. (I'm not sure exactly when the summer sales are. August or September?) There are also smaller sales and promotions (spend $200 and get a free makeup pouch, for instance) held sporadically year round; check official store websites for current information.
One more shop I haven't been to that may be worth a look: Grand Bazaar in Shimokitazawa, which has a shop devoted exclusively to secondhand lolita clothes.