International Budget Guide 2013: Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan, is a city of politeness, cleanliness, culinary enlightenment and notorious expense. This year Tokyo was listed as the most expensive city in the world, with Japan’s second city, Osaka, coming in at number two. But Japan being the land of extremes, there are plenty of great thrifty or outright free things to do in the megalopolis – especially now with the yen at the lowest it has been against the dollar in almost four years.

Part of the expense of Tokyo can be allayed by avoiding the excessive niceties of day-to-day Japanese life. Many of Japan’s costs come from its quest for excellence in customer service and the desire for perfection. Annual train tardiness is measured in seconds. After purchasing merchandise at a retail store, the clerk will come around from the counter and hand you your bag face to face. Taxi doors open automatically for patrons and drivers have uniforms reminiscent of pilots and butlers, complete with white gloves. You will also experience a cleanliness that will make you instantly feel filthy when you get off the plane in your home country.

The budget traveler, conversely, might consider taking the slower local trains instead of the bullet train to save a few thousand yen. Similarly, a standing room-only sushi restaurant can save some costs on dining. To that end, the food alone is enough to keep the budget traveler coming back to Tokyo. The scene extends far beyond the traditional sushi or Benihana style restaurant, with dirt-cheap ramen, okonomiyaki and udon noodle joints on many street corners and the huge amount of local specialty foods that each city of Japan has to offer.

Just getting lost in Tokyo is a voyage into oddity. Without spending a dime you can ferret out entire streets dedicated to selling kitchenware, high-rise arcades and mega-sized vending machines ready for exploration and a perfect photo opportunity. In fact, some of the best things in Tokyo are absolutely free and with a few inside tips, a trip to one of the most unique cities in the world can be quite affordable.


See modern and traditional Japan in Yoyogi Park. It’s absolutely required that you make sure you’re in Tokyo on a Sunday and make your way to Yoyogi Park. Adjacent to Harajuku, the center of Tokyo’s outrageous fashion, and Omotesando, Tokyo’s upscale fashion, Yoyogi is a place where Tokyo’s youth go on Sunday to practice and indulge in their obsessions. If there is one thing Japan thrives at, it’s its people fixating on their crafts and hobbies. An entire afternoon can be spent walking through the park, one of the largest in the city, snapping photos and interacting with the young Tokyoites.

The most emblematic of Tokyo’s bizarre subcultures, is Yoyogi’s rockabilly gang. The greasers gather near the park’s entrance behind Harajuku Station on Sunday afternoons to dance, drink and have fun. They have hairspray, leather, denim and an absolute devotion to Rock & Roll. They don’t accept tips, they typically aren’t looking to take photos with tourists, and they really just want to hangout with their friends and dance.

Continuing on from the rockabilly gang, deep inside a forest within Yoyogi Park is Meiji Shrine. Free to enter, Meiji Shrine is a quintessential Shinto shrine, and if you only visit one shrine in Tokyo, this is the one it should be. Lush trees shade the walk from the park entrance and once inside the shrine grounds, it’s not uncommon to see a traditional Japanese wedding procession.

To get to Yoyogi Park, take the JR Yamanote Line to JR Harajuku Station. Exit towards Omotesando and follow the road as it curves. You’ll find the rockabilly gang in the large, circular public space.

Wander with otaku. The epitome of how the Western world sees Japan is Akihabara Electric Town. This neighborhood is a dense amalgamation of shops selling electronics, anime, rare video games and anything else Japanese otaku are into. Just walking down along the sidewalk you will bump into women dressed as French maids and anime characters passing out flyers advertising various shops or themed cafes. Some shops are incredibly specific and dedicated to their niche; one shop sells only light bulbs and another is simply warehouse space with more than 400 capsule toy vending machines. Walking through the neon-lit alleys is free of course and is always extremely memorable.

Take the Electric Town exit at Akihabara Station, situated on the Hibiya subway line, as well as the Yamanote Loop, Keihin-Tōhoku and Chūō-Sōbu JR lines.

Get a sight of the capital as a whole. Seeing a panoramic view of a city from atop a skyscraper is essential for any trip to a metropolis. Tokyo has a number of options for you to take in the wonderful view, but only one that is worth going to is free: the not-so-romantically-named Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers an observation deck at no charge. From it you can see spectacular views of Shinjuku, the rest of Tokyo and even Mt. Fuji on a clear day.

The easiest way to get there is via Tochomae Station on the Oedo subway line, which is located directly below the building.


Many budget hotels in Tokyo tend to cluster near the Asakusa district, in the north eastern section of the city with great access to popular attractions such as Akihabara, Kappabashi, Ueno Park and Senso-ji. After dark, it can be fairly quiet, so if you’re looking to be close to the nightlife then look into Shibuya or Shinjuku or elsewhere. Since public transportation stops running around midnight and taxi fares are high, it pays to stay close to your focus activities.

Toyoko Inn (mind the spelling). A national chain of budget hotels targeted towards businessmen looking for basic accommodations on business trips. As with almost everything else in Japan, the rooms are small compared to those in the West, but will have the essentials. The interiors are bare bones and haven’t seen new furniture since the ’90s, but with many of their hotels extremely close to train stations, their locations are often unbeatable. Their best location is their Kabuki-cho inn, right in the middle of Shinjuku. It is a 12-minute walk from JR Shinjuku station, which is directly linked to Narita Aiport via the Narita Express, and is also an amazing starting point for getting around to the rest of Tokyo or Japan. From $63, $69 for the Kabuki-cho location. 2-20-15, Kabuki-cho Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021.

Hotel Yanagibashi. Located in Asakusa, Hotel Yanagibashi is in a quiet neighborhood known for its traditional ningyo doll shops. The furnishings are extremely basic and the rooms are very small. However, one amazing feature is its proximity to the Sumida River, a wonderful place to walk at night and see amazing views of the new Tokyo Sky Tree. Less than two blocks away from both JR train and subway stations, it’s extremely convenient for getting to Senso-ji, Akihabara, Ueno Park and the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena. Children under 5 stay for free and ages 5 to 12 stay for only $27 per night. From $38 for a shared room. 1-3-12, Yanagibashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0052.

Quality Hostel K’s House Tokyo Oasis. Right behind a fantastic covered shopping arcade, K’s House Tokyo Oasis is a fantastic hostel that breaks from backpacking stereotypes. Most of the guests here are families. The premises are cleaner than most major chain hotels and all the furnishings are new and extremely comfortable and modern. The staff is very helpful and friendly and there are a generous amount of free pamphlets for various Tokyo attractions. K’s House also has locations around Japan, which are also highly rated and affordable. From $32 for a dorm bed. <14-10, Asakusa 2-Chome, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032.


Don’t be intimidated if you can’t read or speak Japanese; most restaurants in Japan have picture menus or even wax replicas of their dishes in the front window. Japanese people tend to be very accommodating to people that don’t speak the language.

There is no shortage of sushi restaurants and whiskey bars at which to splurge on in Tokyo, a city with more three-star Michelin restaurants than Paris. This arena is where a lot of your travel budget can mysteriously disappear. Drinking can be especially expensive in Japan, but given that virtually all bars will have a single beer on tap, it’s easy to limit yourself. Be sure to stay away from bars with “snack” in their name, as they will most likely have a seating charge upwards of $5.

Sakuratei. The best Japanese food that is virtually unknown outside of Japan is okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is often called a “Japanese pancake,” but this does it a disservice. Essentially meaning, “what you want, grilled,” okonomiyaki can fit anyone’s tastes, from vegetarians to spicy food lovers. Whatever ingredients you choose are all brought together by the egg and flour base, then topped with a deliciously savory, BBQ-esque sauce.

The best introduction to okonomiyaki within Tokyo is the restaurant Sakuratei, located in Harajuku. Somewhat mimicking the surrounding neighborhood, it has a wild interior, with crazed portraits scrawled across the walls. You cook the meal yourself on the grill, but don’t be intimidated, there are easy to follow instructions in English available and the process is great, extremely delicious fun. Meals start at $10. 3-20-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. (Japanese only)

Tsukiji Fish Market. The Tsukiji Market is often high on many people’s list of things to do in Tokyo. Get up with the sunrise to see the auctions that go on within Tsukiji’s wholesale fish market, the largest in the world, during the tiny window that tourists are allowed inside. Then, afterwards get a sushi breakfast nearby. Even if you’re not a morning person enough to see the auctions, eating some of the freshest seafood in Japan can be done at any hour in the market.

The best way to do so is in Jogai Ichiba. Immediately adjacent to the fish market, Jogai Ichiba is a series of alleys teeming with sashimi stalls each with seating space limited to a handful of stools. Each morning the stalls get their seafood straight from the fish market, which sources its stock from all over Japan. It’s best to just wander around the alleys and pick whichever stall catches your eye first, or whichever hostess is friendliest. The dish to get is maguro-don, raw tuna over rice, likely to be amongst the best, freshest seafood you will ever eat. Meals start at $6. To get there head to Tsukijishijo Station, on the Oedo line and take exit A1. To your left will be the Tsukiji Wholesale Fish Market and two blocks to your right will be Jogai Ichiba.

Ichiran Ramen. Eating at a proper ramen restaurant in Japan should not be confused with the instant ramen that is so prevalent across the globe. Eating a good bowl of ramen is a transcendent experience. And with a huge amount of regional varieties, as well as minor tweaks each individual restaurant gives to their own recipes, exploring the world of ramen is a journey unto itself. Best of all, ramen is an everyman meal at everyman prices. A common fixture at truck stops and train stations, it’s easy to grab a bowl almost anywhere.

A great starting point is Ichiran Ramen. Specializing in tonkotsu, pork bone broth ramen, this chain is for ramen purists. You eat in your own personal cubicle and your order is received from a clerk behind a curtain, which falls completely when the bowl of noodles arrives. Every aspect of your meal is customizable, from the amount of garlic in the broth to how thick your noodles are. One of the most convenient locations is within the Atre mall complex of Ueno Station, on the Ginza and Hibiya subway lines, and is also open 24 hours a day.
Bowls of ramen start at $8. 7-1 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0005.

Getting Around

Tokyo is one of the best cities in the world for public transportation, with the largest and most used subway system in the world. But on top of the subway system are also the overland rail systems. The whole network can be quite dizzying, especially when considering all of the private railways and busses all over the city. The best way to get around is to stick to the subways and a single overland train, the Yamanote Loop Line. The most useful train line in the entire city, it connects most of Tokyo’s major attractions such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, Harajuku and Akihabara. When choosing lodging, a good rule of thumb is to be within walking distance of a station on the Yamanote line.

The most convenient way to pay for public transportation is with an IC Card. The IC cards are pre-paid smart cards that enable you to bypass the need to buy individual tickets where you’d have to look up the price for your destination for each journey, occasionally without the ease of English signage. With an IC card, you can simply swipe the card at the turnstile when you enter and exit the station and you are automatically charged the correct fare. There are two IC cards that you can purchase and charge at virtually all stations in Tokyo, the Passmo and Suica cards. There is no difference between the two and each have a $20 purchase price with a $5 deposit that can be refunded by returning your card to a station ticket office. Foreign tourists can even purchase discounted IC cards at both of Tokyo’s international airports.

The card can be used interchangeably on the subway, JR line trains and most busses. You can even use Tokyo’s IC cards in other cities that have their own IC card systems around Japan, such as Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo. Many shops in and around stations will also accept IC cards for payment.

Hailing a taxi in Japan is done the same as in many places across the world; you simply wave an empty cab down from the sidewalk. While there is no uniform color or style for taxis in Japan, most will be the same boxy Toyota from the ’90s with a small illuminated sign on the roof and “Taxi” written on the doors in English. Vacant taxis can easily be spotted from the bright red LED sign with Chinese characters displayed on the windshield, with a green sign meaning it’s occupied. You enter the taxi from the rear left door, which opens automatically. If your destination is not a well-known landmark, an address for the driver to put into his GPS would work best.

Just like in all other service related industries in Japan, you do not tip the driver. If you do, the driver will think you’ve misunderstood the price and give you back your change. Unfortunately, Japanese taxis are notoriously expensive. Fares start between $6 and $8 and after the first 2 kilometers you are charged an additional $1 for each 500 meters. Also, after 10 p.m., rates usually increase about 20 percent.

Tokyo has two international airports, Narita and Haneda. Haneda is centrally located within Tokyo, it only takes a 20-minute, $5 ride on the Tokyo Monorail to get to Hamamatsucho Station on the Yamanote Loop Line. Narita airport is actually located in a suburb some distance from central Tokyo and unfortunately most international flights land there. The fastest way to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station is on the Narita Express. It’s a 55-minute ride and costs $32 each way. The cheapest way is on Keisei Railway’s Limited Express train to Nippori Station, which takes about 75 minutes and costs about $11.

When To Go

Tokyo’s weather rarely ventures into extremes. The only true season to avoid would be summer. Tokyo gets quite humid and walking and public transportation is a large part of life in Japan; you can often find yourself covered in a humidity-induced sweat. Making summer worse, between May and October is the rainy season, peaking in August and September. Additionally, Japanese public schools are off for much of August and that can add to the crowds in public spaces.

The best time to visit Japan as a whole would be for the cherry blossom season. The pink flowers are ubiquitous and absolutely beautiful. People take to having picnics in parks underneath the trees with the Kirin Ichiban flowing. Blossom season is very weather dependent, but it typically occurs in late March or early April. As a guide, Tokyo experienced cherry blossom blooms from March 16 to March 31 this year.


I have heard stories of people leaving their wallets at restaurants, only to come back hours later to find that their wallet had not only stayed put, but been covered in plastic to protect it from rain. I have seen people drive up to 7-11s in Japan, go in and lazily do some shopping while leaving the keys in their still running car with the windows rolled down. There should be very little fear in walking the streets alone, at any hour, for either sex. So long as you keep common sense about you, your trip to be Japan may be the safest you have felt in your entire life.

Budget Tip

Convenience stores in Japan are unlike anything you have ever experienced. The selection and quality of goods offered is better than most full-blown supermarkets around the world. From any typical 7-11 you can buy concert tickets, pay bills, order freshly cooked food, or send a fax, in addition to the typical buying of snacks. A somewhat unique aspect to Japanese convenience store culture is the limited edition snacks. On top of the typical chocolate offerings, for example, will be flavors such as blueberry cheesecake or café au lait chocolate-filled, Koala-shaped crackers. Each variant is truly only available for a limited time. Even the big beer brewers like Kirin and Asahi will get in on the limited edition flavor game.

Possibly the best tip for Japan is if you ever get lost or can’t find your destination, walk into any convenience store and ask the clerks for some help. Just say your desired location followed by “wa doko dess-ka?” (“Where is…?”) and they will gladly help you, pulling out a large map if they don’t know the location off-hand. It even isn’t unlikely that they will walk you to your destination if it’s nearby.

[Photo Credit: Masaaki Komori]

Best destinations for gadget geeks

Chances are, the laptop you’re reading this article on was not made here in the U.S. It’s a well-known fact that most of the world’s consumer gadgetry, from mobile phones to laptops to gaming consoles, is created abroad, in places ranging from Japan to Europe and beyond. A visit to one of these tech-centric destinations is a great chance to pick up a one-of-a-kind tech product or grab a great bargain. But gadget travel is also about more than just buying cool stuff – it’s also chance to experience the future of technology. Wondering where you can get in touch with your inner geek on your next trip? Check out our ten picks below.

Batam, Indonesia
If you have the hankering for inexpensive Asian-made electronics, the island city of Batam in Indonesia is hard to beat. A twenty-minute ferry ride from Singapore, this city offers duty-free shopping for a variety of imported electronics. Be sure to check out Mega Mall Batam Centre located in the Batam Central Business District, as well as Nagoya Hill, the biggest shopping center in Batam. Beware of knock-offs and be willing to bargain to get the best prices here.

Stockholm, Sweden
Early adopters will drool with envy over Stockholm’s city-wide WiMax network. With WiMax’s increased connection range and high-speed bandwidth, Stockholm is surely the world’s most wired city.

Yongsan Electric Market – Seoul, North South Korea
With over twenty buildings and a bustling outside flea market full of electronic bargains, Yongsan Electric Market located at Yongsan Station is a haggler’s paradise. Shop the nearly 5,000 stores for steep discounts and a wide selection of Korean and imported gadgets.Science Museum – London, England
For the young geek or the geek young at heart, the Science Museum in London offers a dizzying array of gadgets and gizmos, along with a good dose of science. Admission is free, which is good, because the fun gadgets in the gift shop are not.

– Jakarta, Indonesia
Offering a gigantic variety of electronics, Glodok’s 500,000 square meters will require several days to shop. Well known to Indonesians, this area sells dirt-cheap Asian-made electronics and offers some of the cheapest, although not always legal, DVDs and video games. The best way to get to Glodok is by TransJakarta, a bus that stops in front of the district. Watch your bags if you go, as the area is known for pickpockets.

Tribeca Grand Hotel – New York City, USA
If you are a true Apple fanboy, the Tribeca Grand Hotel in NYC has you covered. Reserve an iStudio room and you can use your room’s G5 Mac, fully loaded with film, music and photo editing software. Don’t forget to bring your iPod for the in-room Sony Dream Machine Speaker Dock. Reserve your iStudio by calling 877 519 6600.

Consumer Electric Show – Las Vegas, USA
Gadgets so hot you can’t even buy them yet! This annual Consumer Electronics Show showcases the up and coming gadgets from around the world. While you can’t purchase these toys yet, you can certainly find one to start drooling over.

Inamo Restaurant – London, England
Even geeks have to eat, but that doesn’t mean that they have to go cold turkey on technology. Inamo, an Oriental fusion restaurant in London’s Soho district, offers a high-tech dining experience. Diners can order dinner, drinks and even set the evening’s mood lighting by interacting with their dining table. Quite an innovative experience and the food is good too.

Cafe Grumpy – New York City, USA
With over 25 coffees on the menu, Cafe Grumpy will jump start anyone’s day, but its not just the coffee that has gadget geeks drooling. Cafe Grumpy’s unique $11,000 Clover coffee machines that the gadget aficionado will fall for.

Akihabara – Tokyo, Japan
Also known as Akihabara Electric Town, Akihabara is giant shopping area a few minutes from Tokyo Station. The newest international electronics are available next to discounted used gadgets. Visit Akky International Main Store at 1-12-1 Soto-Kanda for duty-free shopping. Don’t forget to shop the smaller stores to find the best bargains.

— Written by Jared S. Bernstein, Seed contributor.

Have some sake with your friend Super Mario

The Gadling crew has been spending a lot of hours in Japan recently. And as I discovered on my recent trip to Tokyo, the Japanese are completely obsessed with video games. The country that is home to Nintendo offers all manner of ways to get your gaming fix. In Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood, I discovered a store that sold nothing but vintage video game consoles, where systems like the Sega Game Gear to Neo Geo were available for purchase. Meanwhile, the gaudy neon-lit streets near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station are lined with huge multi-story arcades, offering everything from head-to-head Tekken gaming stations to a video game where you can be a DJ with turntables.

This fanaticism for all things video game also extends to Japan’s nightlife scene, which is how I stumbled upon Muteki Mario. Located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, Muteki Mario is small bar based around the theme of Nintendo’s most famous video game character, Super Mario. My friends and I went head-to-head on the bar’s Mario Kart Wii game, complete with wireless steering wheels, while imbibing a few of my new favorite cocktail, single-serving glass jars of sake (Japanese rice wine). The bar’s theme even extends to the decor, which includes all manner of Mario and Luigi figurines, power-up mushrooms and star pillows that play the game’s invincible music when you squeeze them.

Part of the fun is trying to find the place…the website isn’t particularly helpful unless you speak Japanese, but I will say that it’s in the neighborhood just northeast of Shinjuku Station. Check the rather plain website and see if your hotel concierge can assist. Whether you’re a video game fanatic or just a casual Mario fan, I promise a hilariously fun night out.

Big in Japan: Everything You Wanted to Know About Maid Cafes

“Have you guys checked out that new café on the corner? You know the one I’m talking about. Yeah, the one where the hot girls dress up in maid costumes, bow to your every request and constantly demean themselves for your pleasure.”

Although this snippet of conversation might be out of place in America, it would fit right at home here in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. The official otaku (?????????) or geek capital of Japan, Akihabara is where the world’s first maid cafes appeared back in 2000.

What’s a maid café you ask? Good question.

A maid café or meido-kafe (??????????????????) is a theme restaurant or bar where the staff dresses up in French maid costumes and treats the customers as masters in their own homes. While sipping your café and relaxing with your friends, a beautiful woman in an elegant costume will personally attend to each and every one of your needs.

It gets better.

The standard uniform is an elegant French maid costume, but in Akihabara it’s possible to find several variations on this traditional garb. From elegant silk and lace lingerie to maid outfits augmented with anime-style bunny or cat ears, Akihabara’s maid cafes cater to every conceivable fantasy.

Although exemplary customer service is typical of Japan, maid cafés take special care to pamper patrons beyond belief. When a customer enters the café, the maids typically greet them by saying okaerinasaimasen goshujinsama (お帰りなさいませ、ご主人様), which roughly translates to ‘Welcome home my exalted master!

It gets even better.

The maids continue to play the role of a house servant, and will do such deferential tasks as kneeling while taking orders, complimenting customers on their drink selections and bowing their head to the floor upon request. In fact, at some of the more upscale maid cafes, you can even have your ears cleaned, your glasses adjusted and your hands and feet massaged for a small fee.

In the last year or so, even more bizarre variations on the maid cafe concept have sprung up in Akihabara. For instance, it’s now possible to find younger sister cafes, where the staff greet customers upon arrival by saying okaeri oniichan (お帰りお兄ちゃん), which roughly translates to ‘Welcome home older brother!

Although this may sound bizarre to Western ears, relaxing in maid cafes has become something of a staple for the legions of geeks that call Akihabara their home. In fact, in the past few years, maid café culture has spread to other cities in Japan, and a few have even popped up in neighboring Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

Sure, maid cafes are a bit fetishistic, but truth be told, they’re a lot of fun!

I mean hey, everyone needs a little pampering once in awhile, right?

** Special thanks to Flickr users Oimax and Wirbelwind **

Big in Japan: Bandages and Eye Patches are the Hottest New Fashions

Think mummies are hot? How about pirates?

What if they were scantily clad women?

This week, Japan’s Weekly Playboy magazine reported that the otaku (geek, ?????????) community is starting to lose interest in eyeglasses and maids. Although these two styles have dominated the geek-friendly Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara in recent years, ‘one-eyed virginal maid mummies’ is the hottest new fashion.

This increasingly popular style is known as kegadoru (????????????), which roughly translates as ‘injured idols.’ The look popularizes women who wear cute, frilly Lolita-style dresses, and then accessorize with bandages and eye patches.

Only in Japan could gauze and Band-Aids become the latest must-have fashion item!

The idea is simple.

According to a young woman interviewed by Weekly Playboy:

“When you’re covered in bandages, everybody pays attention to you and worries about you. They also provide a chance to start talking to guys, who’ll ask you how you hurt yourself, so the bandages are really, really good. One guy told me he likes seeing a thin woman’s body wrapped in bandages because it made him think about bondage, and made him want to protect me from harm.”


But not everyone is convinced that mummies and pirates are going to be taking the catwalks in Paris and Milan by storm. According to psychologist Yu Yuki, the rise of kegadoru is a sign of rising gender equality in Japan.

In an interview with Weekly Playboy, Yu Yuki states:

“Women feigning injury but still swathed in bandages and eye patches look as though they’re weak. This makes the men want to protect the women. In our age of gender equality, the number of strong-willed women has increased. Men still want to protect and look after women, so they seek out those who seem to be in need of help.”

As strange as it may seem to Westerners, the Japanese obsession with cosupre (costume play, コスプレ) has recently exploded in popularity, particularly amongst teenagers and young adults. In a country where individual thought and expression is frequently squashed by a society that values conformity and order, dressing up in bizarre fashions is one of the few outlets that rebellious teens have.

In the teen-fashion district of Harajuku in Tokyo, cosupre has even become a weekly scheduled event, taking place every Sunday in front of the bridge leading to Meiji Shrine. For most of these teens, who grow up in sterile, concrete housing blocks that are typical of much of urban living in Japan, the Sunday street show is sadly their one chance to break away from a repressive culture.

Like most pop fads in Japan, kegadoru is not likely to maintain its popularity for too long. In greater Tokyo, which numbers upwards of 30 million souls, fashions wax and wane in popularity with frightening speed. However, even if kegadoru is short-lived, it’s almost certain that another equally shocking fashion trend will replace it soon enough.

For more on cuteness in Japan, check out Hello Kitty and the Culture of Cute.

For more on the weird, wacky and wonderful world that is Japan, don’t miss the feature column Big in Japan.

For pictures of Japanese fashions, from kimonos to costume plays, see the photo gallery below.

**Special thanks to stock.xchng user Shibuya 86 for the picture of the Harajuku girl **