While Kawaii can be interpreted in many forms, those that dress in this very individual style say they embrace anything that's cute, with bows and ribbons making regular appearances. (Courtesy: The Associated Press)
Here on Harajuku, anything goes.
This street - specifically known as Takeshita Street - flows with a sense of freedom of expression contrasting with Japan's busy business districts and tourist destinations.
Locals express themselves freely through the clothes they wear, with one particular trend - known as kawaii - making regular appearances.
While Kawaii can be interpreted in many forms, those that dress in this very individual style say they embrace anything that's cute, with bows and ribbons making regular appearances.
Now on Harajaku, a whole shopping mall - named Cute Cube - dedicated to all things Kawaii is opening its doors.
Despite only housing 10 stores, the significance is huge given the street is for the most part lined with small shops and fashion boutiques.
One guest at the opening ceremony is Sebastian Masuda, the creator of the 6%DokiDoki fashion brand which is regarded as the number one trend-setter for fashion in Harajuku.
"Kawaii fashion comes from the streets of Harajuku. It's a mixture of foreign influences and Japanese originality and that's what's special about it," says Masuda.
Despite being regarded as one of the trailblazers of kawaii fashion, Masuda says he believes the style was born on the streets and is a mixture of foreign influences combined with Japanese originality: "I've always liked colourful fashion, but I never set out to make it popular. I started selling this as part of my brand and it became popular thanks to the youngsters in Harajuku. It's because of their response that it became successful. It's as if we developed this together and that's Harajuku culture."
Not just seeing himself as a fashion designer, Masuda says his work is a voyage of discovery and the most important thing for him is being able to create: "People often refer to me as a trend-setter but I don't feel pressured by that. I just want to push ahead and develop further without thinking if the young people in Harajuku will follow me or not. I want to develop the next stage of Kawaii culture and to do that I need to continue to create and design products and visuals. I want to see where the future takes me, and there definitely is a future. If the kids in Harajuku follow me there, then all the better."
At Masuda's 6%DokiDoki store in Harajuku, the kawaii style is clearly evident with shop assistants dressed colourfully with extreme versions of the fashion.
While you may think they only dress like this for work, models here are constantly seen in kawaii style.
"For me Kawaii fashion is about wearing and coordinating lots of colours like the ones I'm wearing now. And then also wearing bows like these and lots of other accessories," says Yuka, a model and shop assistant.
Some in Harajuku feel the word kawaii shouldn't be used to represent a particular style of fashion or trend.
This first-year university student called Yukiko Imashiro has a part-time job at a fashion shop in Harajuka and has fully embraced the kawaii style.
While some people's idea of "cute" fashion may be limited to certain styles, Imashiro believes kawaii can be whatever people want it to be, even things other people might find grotesque.
"Japanese people's idea of what's cute is not necessarily what most people think is cute. It could be an eyeball or something a bit grotesque. But if someone thinks that's cute then they can use the word cute to describe it. And that's what Kawaii fashion is all about. Recently however people have started branding Harajuku's fashion as Kawaii and I'm a little against that," says Imashiro.
With kawaii style now gaining a global reputation, Imashiro is particularly happy that some people visit Harajuku wearing similar clothes.
"There are many foreigners that come to Takeshita Street, and I guess they must have read about Harajuku somewhere because many of them wear something that is probably their interpretation of what Harajuku fashion is - and seeing that makes me happy," says Imashiro.
Having received numerous compliments for her outgoing style, Imashiro thinks the attraction to kawaii isn't too hard to understand.
"I think deep down, girls love or want to be princesses so when girls see me dressed like this a lot of them tell me how cute I look," says Imashiro.
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