Laforet Shopping Mall- an “Eden” paradise of Harajuku shopping

By Misha Janette

s-gaikan yoko

In the beginning, the god of fashion created Harajuku, and along with it an “Eden” paradise of shopping: The Laforet shopping mall. And it was good. Oh, so good.

Laforet is the beginning, the end, and everything in between when it comes to Tokyo fashion style. It is a haven for subcultures as well as simple, trendy clothing. It’s *always* changing and evolving, sometimes so quickly you might blink and miss it. It’s a hangout for locals and visitors alike, and always teeming with highly individualistic people looking for something unique to furnish their closet with. 

Welcome to Laforet, the long-reigning symbol of not only Harajuku, but also of Tokyo as the world’s melting pot of fashion.


 Located at on Meiji-dori, at the “Harajuku Crossing” (formally called the “Meiji-jingu Mae ko-sa-ten”) it looms over Harajuku as a white structure with a rounded facade. It’s doors opened in 1978 and has been the best place to shop for Harajuku fashion since.

The name “La Foret” means “The Forest” in French, and it alludes to its group company “Mori ” Building which also means forest in Japanese. Their company has gone on to open other malls and high-rises in Tokyo such as Roppongi Hills, Omotesando Hills and more, but Laforet was it’s first and most prized venture.


Inside, there are currently about 127 stores of varying genres and collected from across generations. Although it is often pegged as being a place that only teenagers would shop at (and fashion-watching for young trends won’t leave you disappointed), there is enough of a variety to keep mom and daughter (or son) happy.


Just as the Tokyo fashion trends are born and die in a flash, shops here also come and go. Twice a year the building is renewed to welcome fresh blood to its hallowed walls or to allow its tenants to get a face lift or change up the decor to keep giving customers something new. If your shop can’t keep up or keep it interesting, then sayonara!


To get your bearings, start at the first floor then go down to up. The entrance area at the door often features a temporary “pop-up” shop for young newcomers or labels without a permanent store but are super buzz-worthy. Then, near the stairs is a “contena” which is another temporary shop area that changes out a new young brand or concept store every few weeks.

From there, you can start by heading to the basement which is where the edgy, local Harajuku-style labels (like Monomania or H>Fractal) converge. Also down there is the gothic and lolita floor, with its sickly sweet-and-sour vibe on full force. 

Other noteworthy shops include BeautiK on 1.5 where you can get some nail art done on the fly from ¥500 and up, or GR8, which supplies the coolest Harajuku kids with all their duds from Ambush to Raf Simons.

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If there’s just too much to want than what your wallet will allow, then you need to schedule your trip around sale season, known as the “Laforet Grand Bazaar”. It’s famous for being the last Tokyo shopping center to hold their sale every season, but just as famous for being the best. “Save your money for Laforet!” is a common mantra. Held over 5 days in late January and July, it becomes a chaotic frenzy of rock-bottom  prices and adrenaline-pumped shopping. Prices have been known to drop to over 90% off, and its famous “time sales” means you can almost get things for pennies. Be warned its not for the faint-hearted though, so come with your game-plan-and comfortable shoes on!


If you’re looking for souvenirs but don’t know where to start, each shop has chosen a special item which they think represents them, and Harajuku the best. Even if you’re just window shopping, it’s entertainment at its most organic. You may even find yourself at the top floor where the museum space is, just in time for an amazing exhibit or fashion show to top off spending an exciting day down the Harajuku rabbit hole.


– Laforet Harajuku
– Where:1-11-6 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
– TEL: (0)3-3475-0411
– Open: 11:00-21:00
– Website:
Currently, 80 stores offer tax-free benefits for tourists




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About Columnist

Misha Janette
Fashion stylist-journalist-editor

Tokyo-based fashion creator-stylist-journalist-editor. Ms. Janette handled tour costumes for Nicki Minaj and collaborated in Kansai Yamamoto 2014 sales success at Isetan.She writes for media in and outside Japan and launched “Tokyo Fashion Diary” to introduce the Japan scene to the world.