Takeshita Street in a Crisis! – COVID-19 Impact on Harajuku

Takeshita Street in Harajuku is the most popular street in Japan. It’s a birthplace of so many trends in pop culture – young people have created new cultures there for decades and that have cultivated Harajuku’s originality loved by people from all over the world. I’m one of the Harajuku lovers!

But sometimes a big wave hits the world. The new coronavirus (COVID-19) had a serious impact on the Japanese economy. Many hotels and restaurants have already bankrupted. And as far as I see it, my beloved Takeshita Street is the place that got the biggest impact by the new coronavirus crisis in Japan!

I’d like to write a sad report about this…

Takeshita Street after the COVID-19 Crisis

I think it was August. Some journalists started to whisper that stores in Harajuku were in difficulties.

But I had realized the crisis before summer. My favorite shop in Takeshita Street suddenly closed in February with leaving the leaflets saying that their online shop was still open. Remembering that time, it was the first sign of the crisis of Takeshita Street.

After the Japanese government declared national emergency, few people visited the most popular street in Japan.

Undoubtedly, it was a crisis for the shops in Takeshita Street.

I never say that all the shops in Takeshita Street are shuttered now, but I must say the situation is very serious. I’ll show you…

GFC store shutters
It was a clothing shop. Now it’s shuttered…

GFC was a big shop selling clothing at reasonable prices, but they left Takeshita Street in the end of August.

They are not the only one. It’s shocking that I find many SHUTTERS in such a popular street!

shuttered stores in Harajuku
Angel Heart (right) and a shuttered shop

I think Angel Heart the crape stand closed before the new coronavirus crisis for their personal reason, but it seems their neighbor was directly hit by it.

Tax free shop shuttered
The small notice on the shutter says they’ve closed.

This was a franchised chemist and discount shop. This kind of shop is popular among Chinese travelers these days, so they came to Takeshita Street a few years ago and decided to leave soon when the company got into difficulty…

And this was my favorite shop. Unique clothing shop “freegia” was so interesting to browse.

shuttered stores
Clothing shop “freegia” (left and right) and a celeb goods shop closed.

They made their decision very quickly while it was still cold in Tokyo. They survived by moving to the cyber space before the new coronavirus crisis became serious. Quick decision – it’ll be a good lesson for entrepreneurs!

TOKIA shop closed
Wrist watch store TOKIA closed.

TOKIA used to be in Harajuku Street, but they suddenly moved to Takeshita Street this summer. And they closed soon after that. I don’t know what happened to them… Maybe they took a chance on moving to the more popular street, but they failed…

I see other shutters, too.

shuttered shops and graffiti

Some are “For Rent” now.

Building with the sign "For Rent"
“For Rent” – It was a pizza restaurant in the backstreet.

Others are under renovation.

Building under renovation
Under renovation.

I think this shocks some of you most. Accessory shop “claire’s” is closing 31 October!

claire's shop in Takeshita Street
“Closing on 31 October. Thank You For 18 Years”

I know some of my readers are claire’s fans. Their pop accessories attracted many people visiting the pop street and that’s why they stayed in Takeshita Street for 18 years, but they finally had to leave.

Why Takeshita Street Got Such a Big Impact

Although the economic crisis is serious throughout Japan (and in your country, too), it hit Takeshita Street remarkably harshly. Why?

The biggest reason is that many shops in Takeshita Street were small businesses, not run by big companies.

COVID-19 directly hit small businesses throughout Japan. Big powerful companies remained in this economic crisis by closing some of their shops, but small shops run by small companies or individuals aren’t powerful enough in a situation like this. I see more and more shops and restaurants are closing in Japan day by day. And yes, many shops in Takeshita Street were among them.

And Takeshita Street lovers (like me) find another reason, too. Originally, Takeshita Street is a fast-changing district. I have seen uncountable “new shops “there – it means many left there and newbies came instead. The rent must be high in the most popular street in Japan, but their high rent was paid off since so many customers visit there. Then, if people don’t come to Takeshita Street, what will happen to the shop managers? It’s so easy to imagine.

Takeshita Street used to be a unique place. The number of franchised shops increased these years, but the small businesses have made Takeshita Street different from any other places. That’s why I love this street so much.

Will Takeshita Street Change?

What will happen to Takeshita Street next?

I’m not sure. I can’t predict.

Of course, I hope the cozy shops I would love will return to Takeshita Street. I want to help them – if I can.

I see so many individual-owned shops and restaurants closing during this economic crisis. COVID-19 had a serious impact on tourism industry, too. The first people who bankrupted were hotels. Yes, they’ve got bankrupted, so they have gone. Never to return.

Visitors are returning Takeshita Street now. However, it’s heartbreaking for me to say this, but I think it’s too late for many closed shops I’d love.

Now my strongest wish is that Takeshita Street will NEVER change into a collection of boring shops run by big powerful companies. I want Takeshita Street to be an energetic place where real people, not business people, create new cultures.

I’ll keep an eye on Takeshita Street – the graffiti on the shutters are so cool at least!

Helpful Link

World’s Easiest Harajuku Travel Guide

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