Whenever I stroll around famous cities, I always fall for this type of thing as a tourist: Caricatures. No matter how many times these drawings depict how oddly looking of a human I am, I will gladly pay the artist for this sort of masterpiece to take home. I like to laugh. They're always funny. And I like to hear my friends laugh, even if it’s at my expense. At the end of the day, these portraits of exaggerated facial features with a pretty cool background make for a unique souvenir from Japan.
I discovered Caricature Japan during a shopping excursion with my son in Harajuku. Just beyond the ever-so-popular Takeshita-Dori Street and adjacent to Omotesando shopping center, this cozy little store sits on the corner of a busy path full of streetwear brand clothing shops. With its bright-colored, green entrance and hundreds of caricatures you can easily identify, you just can’t miss it. The posted price of 1,296yen for 5-minutes sealed the deal, and so we walked in.
Once inside, there were so many other options available to choose from. The most popular selection is a group portrait in color. You can even create one for a special occasion like a Birthday, Anniversary, Wedding, or Congratulatory party and have it placed into a message frame for guests to sign. For our party of two, we opted for a quick caricature type, in color, and with a background. The price per person jumped up to 2,376yen per person. There were a total of two artists available, so we were able to get started immediately.
We sat our belongings down and made ourselves comfortable on the red sofa. The artist explained it would take approximately twenty minutes. For the first five minutes he sketched away. No peeking! The next ten minutes he focused on our facial features individually. We were asked to face forward and look in his direction. We then had the option of having a Japanese themed background or being dressed up in kimono and samurai outfit. Since it was cherry blossom season, I expressed the desire to have Sakura in the background. So he proceeded with the finishing touches.
Voilà! The artist held up our caricature and we laughed uncontrollably. “Does this really look like me?” Then laughed again. In a lot of ways, it does. Our noses and teeth jumped right out at us! Our hairstyles and even the color of our skin were pretty close. The background included Mt. Fuji, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and cherry blossom trees. For an additional fee, we decided to complete the caricature with a white frame to hang it up at home.
Caricature Japan has 15 stores nationwide including shops in Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka. To access Caricature Japan in Harajuku, it is a 5-minute walk from Harajuku Station or a 3-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae.