Halloween in Japan

MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project: Tokyo’s Youth Fashion Capitol Pulls Together in Wake of Disaster

Leaving Harajuku Station on the afternoon of March 11, 2011, I never could have imagined how drastically different things would feel by the time I returned only a few hours later. When the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck Japan that day, the enormity of the tragedy seemed almost beyond comprehension. Many people throughout Japan were shell-shocked by the scale of what had happened, as well as by their inability to do anything about it. When I walked back home that evening through Harajuku and other neighborhoods of Tokyo, I could sense so much sadness, confusion, and uncertainty in the air.

Those of us living in Tokyo were very lucky. While scary, the damage to Tokyo from the actual earthquake was minor. The people hardest hit were those in the north-eastern Tohoku region, as they faced the double brunt of the earthquake and the deadly tsunami. Everyone who I have spoken with in Tokyo is absolutely heartbroken over the plight of those who lost their lives, were injured, or made homeless by the tsunami. We are all doing our best to send our support to those affected – both by donating what we can afford, and by conserving energy and other resources so that they will be available to those who need it the most. If you haven’t looked into the options for helping out, we highly recommend that you check out the Google and Yahoo earthquake relief websites for more information.

While the situation in Tokyo was much better than in other parts of Japan, the impact of the earthquake was strongly felt even in Harajuku – the neighborhood that TokyoFashion.com calls home. Harajuku was nearly deserted immediately after the earthquake as a result of various train lines shutting down, rolling blackouts, and shops closing to conserve energy. But as with every other disaster in history, it didn’t take long for people to start working toward getting their lives back to normal – even if it’s a “new normal”.

Enter the “MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project”.

MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project

One of our neighbors in Harajuku is the Japanese fashion brand and boutique 6%DOKIDOKI. The brand’s founder, Sebastian Masuda, has been in Harajuku for over fifteen years. In that time, he has seen a lot of changes. One thing he had never seen before, though, is what we all experienced on March 11th. In the days after the earthquake hit, Sebastian began thinking of ways for Harajuku to come together and regain its strength and sense of purpose.

When you first think of 6%DOKIDOKI, you probably think of brightly colored accessories, cute fashion, a cute shop & website, cute everything. Your first impression wouldn’t be wrong – there’s good reason that 6%DOKIDOKI calls their store a “Sensational Lovely Shop” and uses phrases like “Kawaii Anarchy” to describe their aesthetic. But while Sebastian is known globally for his unique and extremely cute designs, there is far more to his philosophy than just making cute things. He has been a strong supporter of maintaining the “spirit” of Harajuku during the various trials that the neighborhood has gone through over the years – including the closing of the Hokoten (Pedestrian Paradise) by the government in the late 1990s, the economic crisis, and the recent onslaught of fast fashion brands into the neighborhood.

Through it all, Sebastian has been a constant champion of Harajuku as a place where young Japanese girls and boys can express themselves and have fun, mostly free of the pressures that permeate much of the rest of their lives. He believes that the “health” of Harajuku as a creative center and a place for young people is directly related to the “health” of Tokyo and the entire country of Japan. Having traveled extensively – and after talking to people around the globe both in person and online – all of us here at TokyoFashion.com also strongly believe that Harajuku is very important to Japan’s image in the world.

With all of that in mind, Sebastian came up with the idea for the “MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project” in the days after the earthquake. The basic idea was simple: to bring together the people of Harajuku (those who live here, those who work here, and those who visit here) to help the people in other parts of Japan who are most in need – and to give each other strength and support in a time of turmoil and uncertainty.

Mighty Harajuku Project Donations

The first and most urgent order of business was to gather donations for the victims of the tsunami. 6%DOKIDOKI’s staff, customers, and many others brought goods and money to the brand’s shop in Harajuku, where they were boxed up and made available to those in the worst-hit areas of Japan. But Sebastian had a lot more in mind than just donations when he envisioned MIGHTY HARAJUKU.

The MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project also seeks to ensure that Tokyo’s young people still have a place where they feel safe and relatively worry-free – even when many potentially scary and stressful things outside of their control are happening in the country. Furthermore, Sebastian decided that it would be important to share news and images from Harajuku with other areas of Tokyo, Japan, and the rest of the world – to let people all over the planet see that even in troubling times, Harajuku is still hanging tough and moving forward.

Sebastian put the MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project into motion immediately – reporting on the situation on the streets of Harajuku in the days following the earthquake via his own mobile phone photos and short news items posted to his blog, Twitter, and Facebook in both English and Japanese. As more shops began to re-open, other people and businesses joined together to support the project and help contribute as well. Less than a week later, Sebastian had designed a “MIGHTY HARAJUKU” button/pin that is given away free at various locations around the neighborhood.

Mighty Harajuku Project Buttons

The shops, brands, and organizations who have been supportive of the MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project so far include FRUiTS Magazine, ADD, Dr. Martens, Faline Tokyo, Nadia, G2?, Spinns, Panama Boy, Hypercore & many more. Please see the list at the bottom of this article, as new Harajuku-ites are joining the project in every day.

The story of the MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project is the story of how each neighborhood in Japan has been touched by this disaster. It is about how communities are coming together to support those who most need help, while also supporting each other and giving each other strength during a crisis most of us never imagined we would experience.

 


For more information on the MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project:

Here is a partial list of organizations supporting the MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project (in alphabetical order):

  • 6%DOKIDOKI
  • ADD
  • Business As Usual
  • DETECT
  • Dr. Martens
  • Faline Tokyo
  • flower
  • FRUiTS
  • Furugiya-honpo
  • G2?
  • Green
  • Harajuku Fashion Walk
  • ILLEI
  • Kissa Christie
  • LISTEN FLAVOR
  • NADIA
  • Naval.
  • NPO Shibuya College
  • P’s
  • PANAMA BOY
  • HYPER CORE
  • Rid Snap
  • SPINNS
  • Spiral
  • TokyoFashion.com
  • TokyoKawaiiMagazine
  • VACANT
  • VOLUME

For more information on donating money or other goods to help support earthquake and tsunami victims:

Mighty Harajuku Project Girls

 

Photos courtesy of Sebastian Masuda & Photographer Kira. Three girls in pink photo by Electric Alice.

26 Comments

  1. 1.

    Mnon (March 29, 2011)

    Wooow, this is so awesome ! I really love when peoples are all together, fighting for something. Seeing this make me feel really hopeful…
    It is great to see the Harajuk community doing this, and I want this to touch also all the worldwide Harajuku community, because Harajuku became the center of a new world, which is now bigger than the original neighborhood and going to Harajuku became for thoses peolples a pilgrimage.
    Can we print out some buttons by ourself ? It would be so great if we could do a whole article as you did with pictures of Harajuku lovers all around the world.

  2. 2.

    Sky (March 29, 2011)

    That is great! We all work together to heal eachother after such a disaster that happened so suddenly. You are in my prayers and in my heart Japan. Japan is home to me as well. <3

    They will be at Sakura Con. I hope to wear the button to support. Do you think they will give them out during the Anime Convention in Seattle this April?

  3. 3.

    Fumiko (March 29, 2011)

    great event to Japan.. prayer for them too :)

    take a look the 6 great ways to help for Japan@ http://bit.ly/i2xRdX

  4. 4.

    Ronald Cruz (March 29, 2011)

    Love to support.. I’ll go Harajuku tomorrow to get mine!!! lets fight together for Japan!!!

  5. 5.

    Misheru (March 30, 2011)

    Love to see even more support going out to the victims/survivors of the earthquake/tsunami!
    I would love to get a button.

  6. 6.

    cynthia alejandra (March 30, 2011)

    hola no c si saben mi idioma pero me gustan mucho las fotos espero k me agregen y si puedo segurlas jeje :3

  7. 7.

    pablo ortiz (March 30, 2011)

    hola amigos realmente todo lo que biene siendo relacionado con lo japones, lo mejor, lo mejor, lo mejor!!!!!!!! de hecho yo siempre he tenetido un lazo o algo que hace que me cotecta con ese pais, cuando supe lo del terremono y el sunami me puse a llorar que loco no??? ¿¿¿¿por que??? no se desde niño he sentido eso creo que se ve en mi gusto por el pais ya que me apodan el tokyo (capital japonesa) y mi correo traer mi apodo jejejejejejejjeje dios me bendija con algun dia conocer esa maravillosa cultura.

    platicando un poco con amigos comentabamos que aqui en mexico estan bien pendejos , hay chavitos que se creen emos y se visten de igual y ya piensan que estan a la moda y cuando de repente llego yo a salir colirido con la vestimente de la moda asiatica se me quedan viendo raro por la falta de cultura que tienen aqui en mexico pero en fin uno no es lo que quiere. jajajajaa

    cuidense y gracias

  8. 8.

    Panda29 (March 30, 2011)

    AWESOME! Great to see the support for Japan and victims of the earthquake and Tsunami. It’s also amazing to see other countries helping out too :) I would LOVE to get that button! Stay strong Japan <3 xx

  9. 9.

    James (March 30, 2011)

    Nice Fashion

  10. 10.

    kashiru (March 31, 2011)

    the japan fashion is so cool and fashionable…..hopefully,all the citizen of japan strong and do not give in their life!

  11. 11.

    sara paris (March 31, 2011)

    cute!!!

  12. 12.

    Edvinas (April 1, 2011)

    I do anything to help Japan…. please people if you know how could I help please write me Werdasas@gmail.com thank you… I live in Lithuania, so it no much help from me, but still if I do anything just write me

  13. 13.

    Ria (April 1, 2011)

    I love Japanese fashion..!! Japan !! Please recover soon.
    I would like to visit after Japan recovered. :)
    I donate everytime I buy food or drinks from mr bean. Maybe this is still not enough. But I will wait until Japan recovers.
    Gambatte-kudasai !! Best Wishes !! :)

  14. 14.

    Regina Lee (April 1, 2011)

    hi i was wondering where i can get one of these badges? i currently live in japan and would like to purchase one.

  15. 15.

    FateBlade (April 1, 2011)

    ご挨拶は、日本へ。
    Greetings to Japan.

  16. 16.

    [...] Organised by Sebastian Masuda of 6%DOKIDOKI (the famous clothing and accessories store located in Tokyo’s Harajuku area), the Mighty Harajuku project ran a huge donation drive following the tsunami. Masuda also had the brilliant idea to make sure the people of Tokyo still had a place to go that was safe. And to show the rest of the world that Harajuku was ‘hanging tough and moving forward’. To read more about the initiative, visit Tokyo Fashion. [...]

  17. 17.

    Kristen H. (April 4, 2011)

    I really wish I had the money to get those adorable outfits :{ I really want to be a sweet lolita… TT_TT or a gothic lolita…either way there both awesome… D:

  18. 18.

    [...] instant camera) while they posed with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Participants were also given free “MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project” pins by the 6%DOKIDOKI [...]

  19. 19.

    [...] is WEGO and that his favorite band is locofrank. You might also noticed that he’s wearing a MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project pin – [...]

  20. 20.

    [...] …Mighty Harajuku Project love… [...]

  21. 21.

    [...] Punch is proud to announce that MIGHTY HARAJUKU is coming to Los Angeles this weekend April 16 – 17, [...]

  22. 22.

    [...] and pink patent heels. To show support for Japan after the earthquake, Yuka is also wearing a MIGHTY HARAJUKU Project button. You need to look at the full-sized photos to take in all of the amazing details of her [...]

  23. 23.

    [...] remain dark, some inhabitants of Tokyo are beginning to return to their usual joyous style. One Harajuku fashion plate, pointing to his outrageous shirt and huge pendant, wondered out loud if it’s O.K. to [...]

  24. 24.

    Amz (April 24, 2011)

    How can my organization become a part of the might harajuku project?

  25. 25.

    Candy (May 10, 2011)

    I have mine! <3

  26. 26.

    [...] hair bows, a shooting stars clip, a large mushroom necklace, a choker, a hearts necklace, and a Might Harajuku [...]

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