Many foreigners are visiting Cat Street. Why? Cat Street in Harajuku is a birth-place of various fashion trends.
After World War II, there used to be a residential area for the US Air Force called Washington Heights, located on the back of Meiji Shrine. More than 2,000 people lived there.
Their families used to walk and shop around this area, the back streets of Harajuku. Then, Washington Heights was renovated to Olympic Athletes' village for the First Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and later on became Yoyogi Park. Furthermore, this area was designated as an academic district, since it has a lot of schools, libraries and educational facilities; there are no amusement establishments like Pachinko Parlors. All these transformed the area into a haven for creators, designers and artists.
At Jingumae Crossing, you can see a tall brown building called Tokyu Plaza Harajuku, which used to be Harajuku Central Apartment. This apartment was the birth-place of Harajuku culture. Famous musicians, copywriters, magazine creators and fashion designers used to live there. Also, fashion designers such as Kansai Yamamoto, Junko Koshino and Comme de Garson’s designer Rei Kawakubo and many others used to work in this area.
I think that Japanese fashion designers possess a unique cultural perspective and sensibility. After World War II, Japanese designers have absorbed foreign cultural values and influences, infusing them into existing indigenous patterns and re-creating their own cultural uniqueness. That’s why Japanese fashion designers are able to exhibit their creations on Paris Fashion week.
In Harajuku, Cat Street is a must to visit. Despite its name, this trendiest street has nothing to do with cats. There used to be a ditch like a narrow stream from Harajuku to Shibuya. There were small shops along the ditch. However, in preparation for the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the government covered the ditch and made a narrow street on it. Since then, this street has attracted many visitors not only from Japan but also from all over the world.
On Cat Street, there are various kinds of shops and restaurants. Cat Street is famous especially for Vintage. Vintage clothing is more than just “old used clothes.” Vintage can be as trendy and stylish as those being sold in retail shops.
Why do vintage clothes appeal to customers?
- By wearing Vintage, you will stand out because you will never find another person wearing the same outfit.
- Their quality can also rival that of current ones. Most Vintage items even have better quality because they were not mass-produced.
- Every vintage garment comes with a story, art and history
Two years ago, a retired English professional footballer, David Beckham, visited one of the vintage shops on Cat Street. Also, an American singer, Lady Gaga, has visited one of funky shops in Cat Street several times.
Why do you think famous celebrities fly all the way to Japan to purchase Japanese Vintage? Vintage products selling in Tokyo have good reputation because they are washed, ironed and neatly folded, which shows Japanese sensitivity. I think there is another reason. Japanese shop owners have high taste in fashion and a good sense of aesthetic, so they collect only the finest products. That's why on a closer look, vintage is more than just fashion. It's also about history, timeless beauty and culture—and all these converge on Cat Street.
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