DOG: An underground fashion fantasy in Harajuku

By Misha Janette


Getting total freedom to tout the wonders of Tokyo’s fashion scene for a blog means I am faced with deciding where to even start. The fashion scene here is varied and can go from quaint to incredibly extreme. But since I live on the edge (and if you’re traveling to Japan I’d say you’re adventurous too), we might as well start with a BANG.

Welcome to Harajuku. If you think that the extent of the wonderfully quirky mayhem is confined to the famous Takeshita-dori alleyway, you’d be wrong. An underground world where total uniqueness and flaunting of fashion rules is located here and on display for you to peruse. It’s the legendary shop DOG, and there might not be any other place that exists in Tokyo that will show how truly deep the fetish for fashion freedom goes. Come step down into the narrow stairway with me and discover it…


DOG has been a must-see destination for fashion fans and the curious adventurers alike since it opened in the year 2000. Considering the long-standing history of Harajuku and Ura-harajuku (the “back alleys” of Harajuku) that goes back to the 70s, it’s a “newer” addition to the scene. Still, it’s almost impossible to imagine a Harajuku without it. It’s impact on the neighborhood is considerable, and has kept it on the destination map. Many Tokyo-ites themselves don’t know about it and those that have heard of it aren’t sure where to find it; you know that means it’s someplace special.


To get there, you’ll need to either stroll north-bound along Meiji-dori from the Meiji JIngu Mae subway station, or trudge through Takeshita-dori if coming from the JR Harajuku Station. Cross the street to the side of the round KDDI building, and walk north on the diagonal back-street away. The “Family Mart” convenience store on the right is where you need to stop and look left. The inconspicuous entrance is there, signified only by a small, weathered banner in black that reads “DOG”. The staircase that leads down to it are narrow and intimidating, but all I can suggest is to just take a deep breath and walk down them.



Inside is a parallel world, where you’re greeted by mannequins dressed in the most creatively outlandish getups this side of the universe. These mannequins are a source of pride, and sometimes you’ll find one outside the shop beckoning in passersby. DOG is a veritable treasure trove of items that are meant to challenge and surprise you.The store accosts the senses from sight to touch to sound but thankfully it never gets too crowded to be uncomfortable.


The clothing is a mix of used and new items, the latter being painstakingly curated for its relevance (or should I say its purposefully disregard of relevance) to the Harajuku street-style scene. The owner of DOG takes trips around the world, picking up the wildest items his connections can dig up, and picking up new young artists along the way. The new items are all from obscure designers, and for them getting a rack at DOG means they’re on their way to Harajuku infamy.


There’s a third genre of items here that fit between “new” and “used”, and they’re the shops’ most popular. They are called “remake” clothing, where a used item is re-worked and customized with decorations for a completely unique piece. Some parody popular brands and others are like works of art.


There are a few nooks and crannies that should be given a look-through before you leave. To the left of the register are stairs that lead up to a fenced loft. Here you’ll find the famous DOG leather jackets, studded and painted within an inch of their lives. Back at the foot of the stairs is an accessories display case where you can pick up some silver jewelry from Fangophilia, a dentist-turned-designer who takes moulds of body parts and turns them into wearable accessories.



If you wonder just how influential the store is at launching labels, one just needs to look behind the mannequins at the front and see all the MYOB accessories stocked there. Outside, you’ll find these happily mean earrings, rings, hats and shirts (MYOB means Mind Your Own Business) decorating all of the most stylish locals. As for a “DOG” souvenir, I suggest picking up one of these as they are funny and can be stealthily worked into your wardrobe.



There is another area in which the store has incredible influence, and that is its shop employees. These are young people who are the be all end all of unique taste makers in Tokyo and faces of Tokyo’s wild side to the world. The small group become superstars in their own right, getting fashion magazine spreads and appearing in music videos or TV shows. But make no mistake; their dedication to the store and keeping its wild world alive is unmistakable .  Many of the “remake” items are made by the sales assistants themselves, and if you think you’re being ignored from behind the register, it’s probably because they are just concentrating on making something new (this author has bought items straight from behind the counter before, before anyone else can get their hands on it).





To exit, you’ll have to climb those stairs again. You’ll notice the walls painted in graffiti-like writing, but these are actually signatures of all of the famous patrons that have visited the shop. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and K-pop superstar G-dragon have all been here to shop. And they don’t exactly get freebies or preferential treatment; getting an original piece here is a privilege. It’s one that anyone can partake in, so definitely try to experience it when in the area.


– DOG Harajuku clothing store
– Where: B1 Trinity Bld.3-23-3 Jingumae Shibuya Tokyo
– Open: 12:00-20:00
– Website:DOG Harajuku HP




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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.