Konnichiwa / こんにちは / Hello!
Harajuku (原宿) is a must visit when in Tokyo, Japan. It’s one of our favorite spots to explore and easily one of the most unique areas in Tokyo. Harajuku is known as being the center for Japanese youth culture and stands out as both an art district and notable fashion hub in Tokyo.
Food typically isn’t one of the first words we think of when we think of Harajuku. Our experience of food in Harajuku has typically been limited to the tourist friendly vendors along Takeshita Dori and a cheap no frills gyoza spot we discovered on our first trip. We had never thought of going on a Harajuku food tour before. When we came across Arigato Japan Food Tours’ “Crazy, Cute, Kawaii Food Tour” of Harajuku promising “the craziest – artsy lunch imaginable”, we knew we had to see for ourselves.
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Meet in Omotesando
The tour takes place Monday through Friday, starting promptly at 11:00am. The meet-up spot is in front of the Apple Store located on Omotesando, a main road in Harajuku that leads up to Meiji Shrine. The Apple Store is conveniently next to Omote-sando Station, which services the following lines:
- Tokyo Metri Chiyoda Line (C-04)
- Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-02)
- Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line (Z-02)
Omotesando is home to a number of high end retailers with amazing storefronts. Be sure to check out the unique architecture in this area if you have time before/after the tour!
Same day bookings are available if you call them directly, their phone number can be found on their website, but we highly recommend booking well in advance to secure the date you want. After meeting our local tour guides, Ayumi and Ryuichi, we exchanged brief introductions with the rest of the group and off we went!
Ayumi gave us a brief introduction to the surrounding area and led us to a temple tucked between a few commercial and residential buildings. At every corner there was an interesting fact or historical tidbit shared with us, we knew we were in good hands.
What is an antenna shop?
The first official stop on our Harajuku food tour was at a Niigata antenna shop. Niigata is a prefecture known for its rice and rice products. Antenna shops, or satellite shops, specialize in selling goods from a specific prefecture in Japan. These shops are a great way to taste and experience other prefectures in Japan that you may not have the chance to personally visit.
We sampled a number of snacks chosen by our tour guides, trust them – they know what’s best! There were a great variety of tastes and textures. The stand out for us was definitely the seasonal sasadango, a steamed rice cake stuffed with bean paste wrapped in bamboo leaves (#zerowaste). The best part was that the seasonal flavor was sakura (cherry blossom)!
This was actually our very first antenna shop experience in Japan despite it being our third trip, and we were blown away. As serial snackers, we were floored by the selection of senbei (rice crackers) offered and made sure to purchase some as souvenirs before moving onto the next spot.
The World’s Richest Sesame Ice Cream
After what seemed like a buffet of snacks, we moved onto the most minimalistic ice cream storefront we’ve even seen. We were surprised to find it was home to the world’s richest sesame ice cream.
Once you’ve chosen from the range of sesame ice cream flavors, you’re given the DIY option to add on even more sesame in the form of sesame seeds and sesame oil to enhance the flavor. It was absolutely phenomenal. There was even a tempura (battered and fried) ice cream option, when you want the best of both worlds!
Backstreets of Harajuku
We went through a maze of secondhand shops and boutiques in the backstreets of Harajuku before arriving at the location of our main event: lunch. The building once housed studio apartments but has since converted to an art gallery and is now home to a number of local artists. The public is free to browse the gallery during opening hours, and some artists have prints and merchandise available for sale. If you’re looking for unique souvenirs in Tokyo or would like to support local artists and their work, this place is an absolute must!
Whatever you want, grilled
Attached to the building is a restaurant that specializes in the traditional Japanese tableside dish, okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki literally translates to “whatever you want grilled” and it was here that Ryuichi gave us a brief lesson on the difference between okonomiyaki from different regions in Japan. Included in your lunch is one drink (alcoholic drinks included) and a serving of two shared entrees, which we found was more than enough.
If you have food allergies, be sure to mention so when booking the tour! Our guides also double checked with us when we first met up with them the day of as well.
Must Have Desserts in Harajuku
We were absolutely stuffed after lunch, but there’s always room for dessert. If you’ve read our things to do in Harajuku guide, then you already know that crepes are an absolute must when visiting Harajuku. The crepe craze in Tokyo started in Harajuku during the 1970s, and our tour guides took us to one of the original spots that are still operating today.
The Most Instagrammable Food in Tokyo
You thought that was it? After dessert is the after dessert! Our final stop on Arigato Japan Food Tours’ “Crazy, Cute, Kawaii Food Tour” was the most crazy, cute, and kawaii of them all. If you follow food trends online, you’ll know that this giant rainbow cotton candy is one of the most Instagrammable foods in Harajuku, if not Tokyo. The process is mesmerizing, and each color has its own unique flavor!
We decided to book the tour towards the end of our trip, and while they say to save the best for last – we’re sad we didn’t book this tour earlier! We found out about so many hidden spots in Harajuku during this tour that we wanted to return to but unfortunately did not have time.
This was our very first food tour in Japan, and certainly not our last! We were blown away by how carefully curated and organized the tour was. We initially thought that a three-hour tour would drag on, but we actually ended up going over the allotted time since we stopped to take pictures and check out interesting store fronts along the way.
If you’re considering booking this Harajuku food tour, do it! We highly recommend this food tour and believe it’s a fantastic way to explore hidden places in Harajuku that only locals would know.
This particular food tour cost $135 / a person. Depending on the type of traveler you are, this may seem steep. But considering the quality and the sheer amount of food you’re given, it’s well worth it. Luckily, we have a special code for our readers in case you need a little more convincing!
Receive a 10% discount on all* Arigato Japan Food Tours with our code:
*Excluding the ULTIMATE ramen tour!
We were guests of Arigato Japan Food Tours, but as always all opinions are our own.
Arigatou gozaimasu / ありがとうございます / Thank you!
Have you ever been on a food tour?
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