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Tokyo's Harajuku neighbourhood has been turned into a virtual shopping experience


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

July 19, 2021 | 3 min read

The Japanese city of Shibuya has expanded its virtual Shibuya town project to Harajuku to celebrate its first anniversary.

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Virtual Harajuku aims to create a new culture in Harajuku under the theme of "Create New Pop Culture”

First launched in May 2020 to help retailers in Japan who were suffering from the country’s Covid-19 state of emergency, this virtual e-commerce experience also aimed to help retailers engage consumers in a different way.

A year on, the project, called the Shibuya 5G Entertainment Project, and led by KDDI Corporation, Future Design Shibuya and Shibuya City Tourism Association, will be expanded to Harajuku.

“Retailers are always searching for a way to merge offline and online experience”, said Ichiro Ota, chief executive officer of Geometry Ogilvy Japan, which handled the project’s creatives.

“Virtual Harajuku has moved beyond this and found a unique and seamless opportunity to blend commerce and culture together. And what better neighborhood to launch this in than one as steeped in street culture as Harajuku”.

What happens at the virtual Harajuku?

  • The launch event brought together Japanese celebrities like Neo, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to appear at art exhibitions, talks and live performances.

  • While virtual Shibuya was designed to cope with the social issues from the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual Harajuku aims to create a new culture in Harajuku under the theme of "Create New Pop Culture” together with the Harajuku originators.

  • Those visiting virtual Harajuku were able to create personal avatars, walk through the trendsetting streets to see them live and exclusive performances, and enter the full sensory retailer environments to make purchases in the virtual world to be delivered in the real world.

  • Included in the virtual shops were sneakers, available exclusively at the iconic Harajuku sneaker retailer, atmos Virtual Harajuku store.

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