The pop idol and style maven talks about finding artistic inspiration in Tokyo's Harajuku district.
Credit: Andrea Fazzari

“I first went to Tokyo when I was touring with No Doubt in 1995. I especially loved the Harajuku district, because you can just sense all the creative energy pulsing through it. It felt like another planet to me. I wanted to be like the Harajuku girls you see out shopping. Fashion is so important there—it’s huge. Everyone is so stylish and unique.

When I began working on a solo record, I was excited, because it meant I could go back to Japan. I was busy playing music most of the time when I finally returned, but it was important to me to make time to visit Harajuku again. I met people when I was exploring the stores, and I took a lot of pictures of them, but it was sometimes hard to communicate, because I don’t speak the language. I was so inspired by people making their own clothes and showing off all their original creations.

My Harajuku project, which is something I’ve been working on for years now, was influenced by this area. The vibe, the wild colors and graphics, and the clothes— all of this is incorporated in my music and my tours as well as my fashion.”

The Harajuku Lovers fragrances are available at Macy’s and Sephora.

  • The Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel (26-1 Sakuragaoka-cho; 81-3/3476-3000;; doubles from $392) is set in Shibuya’s tallest skyscraper, just west of Harajuku (which has few hotel options).
  • For authentic dumplings, try Harajuku Gyoza Lou (6-2-4 Jingumae; 81-3/3406-4743; lunch for two $12), a local institution with lines out the door. Or ask for a seat on the outdoor terrace at Smoke Bar & Grill (Gyre Building, fourth floor, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/5468-6449; dinner for two $85), owned by design icon Teruo Kurosaki.
  • Don’t miss Laforet (1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/3475-0411), a sprawling mall known for cutting-edge Japanese labels. And to spot the Harajuku girls, stroll along the perpetually crowded, store-lined Takeshitadori street.