Laforet Harajuku
1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Japan
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Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood is the epicenter of all that in trendy in Japan. The nexus of that culture is the crossing of Meiji Dori and Omotesando Dori. The roads intersect on a slight hill, and the most prominent position on that hill is held by the rounded fortress known as Laforet Harajuku. The building's curved form resembles a glowering fortress clad in aluminum siding. On the southernmost corner, a turret rises and supports a huge sign bearing the building's name. This sign is noteworthy because of how the word "Laforet" makes its way around in a circle. Instead of the illuminated letters moving, the core of the cylinder is lit up, and a cut-out stencil on a stainless steel ring turns around it. Visually, it's less obvious than the usual neon and LED signs that populate most of Tokyo's major crossings, but its unique form encourages the eye to linger, trying to figure out how it works, before moving on.

Another unusual feature of this building are its many half-floors. Usually reserved for structures like parking garages, part of this building is vertically offset, creating a rather confusing layout for the first time visitor. Because of this irregularity, there are ten floors above ground, even though they are labeled 1 through 6. That's because there is a 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and a 4.5 floor. Below ground is even more confusing, where the levels are B0.5, B1, and B1.5. In some strange way, though, this layout actually works because Laforet isn't put together as a single cohesive shopping experience. Rather, it's like a vertical bazaar with dozens of individual stalls independent of each other.

Quick Facts
  • Construction finish: 1978
  • Type: Mixed Use
  • Stories: 10
    > In addition to the obvious shopping opportunities, Laforet is also home to a museum, restaurants, and an auditorium hosting cultural events.
Your Thoughts

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  It is one of the most memorable places to make an appointment because of its location. To go to have coffee and sweets in Harajuku where I spent most of my free time there. I worked 6 years in Japan as an Archtect. I went to Japanese language school close to this building. I am now living in Los Angeles, and I miss the Jarajuku liveliness.

. - Monday, October 6th, 2008 @ 12:04pm