that, at 17 years old, I happened to be the perfect age for. Enthralled by a street cultureand style that I had never seen before, I became enamored like so many other Americansupon first sight of the place.Unfortunately, I, like most others, never got a real sense for the place, and never found out who these people really were, what was actually going on, or why peoplegathered there in the first place. When, three years later, I proposed the place as my BAresearch topic, I did it to get past the lack of knowledge that characterized not only myown conception of the place, but the conception displayed in even the most prestigiousmedia outlets.Attention on Harajuku’s youth culture has focused on the most obvious choice:the style. Many portrayals of the place are nothing but photographs, appended only withcursory captions. Written descriptions invariably focus on some element of the style andfashion, too, overlooking the dynamics of the place as a whole. From what I can tell, this paper is the first report that goes beyond the level of appearance, and discusses in detailthe lives, behaviors, and choices of the participants who bring Harajuku to life. Anynumber of articles can say how they dress; my goal was to find out what made them showup in the first place.
My research centered around 7 weeks of fieldwork in Tokyo over the summer of 2005. Every Sunday, I traveled to Harajuku in order to meet and interact with various participants and observers. Over the course of my time, I interviewed roughly 35 people.Roughly half of these people were the participants themselves, ranging in age from 14 to