Gothic Lolita Tokyo tour and travel guide.
In Tokyo, Gothic Lolita has risen from a fringe subculture to a tourist magnet. And now, Western gawkers will be armed with a group leader and itinerary. I kid you not: Pop Japan Travel (PJT) is taking reservations for its first ever Tokyo Darkside Gothic-Lolita Tour.

The week-long trip [April 11-18, 2008] is described as “the definitive journey to the birthplace of Gothic & Lolita.” With the help of bilingual tour guides, you’ll “meet some industry insiders, drop in on a local Lolita hangout, sit down for a dinner in Wonderland and much more!” Here’s the day-to-day breakdown:

DAY 1. Meet at Los Angeles’ LAX airport and fly economy class (Singapore Airlines) to Tokyo. If you’re making your own flight arrangements, you’ll meet the tour group at the hotel.

DAY 2. Land at Narita International Airport. Settle into your hotel room.

DAY 3. Sunday in Harajuku. “You’ll get the chance to see and be seen on the bridge near Harajuku Station and on the main drag, the capital of Japanese street fashion. Enjoy a tour of the exclusive boutiques and shops, then take a breather in the remarkable urban oasis of Meiji Shrine. But we’re just getting warmed up, because in the afternoon we take you to the chaotic marketplace of Shibuya, then across Tokyo Bay to end the day in the modern wonderland of Odaiba!”

DAY 4. Start the day with an optional trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market. The tour of Tokyo continues with a picnic under the cherry blossoms of Ueno Park, a stop in Akihabara (the anime and manga capital), and a visit to Ginza, “Japan’s old school of high fashion.”

DAY 5. A free day to explore Tokyo.

DAY 6. “Cruise Shinjuku and other Tokyo neighborhoods for the greatest and latest Gothic & Lolita brands […] You’ll get a chance to meet real Gothic & Lolita designers and industry insiders, and take part in two unforgettable dining experiences: the Christon Cafe, a stunning local Gothic & Lolita haunt with a classical European interior and red velvet as far as the eye can see, and dinner at the Lolita favorite Alice in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza.”

DAY 7. More free time, or you can join an optional tour to the scenic Hakone.

DAY 8. Fly back to LAX, or travel home on your own.

Personally, I’m not a fan of tours. My idea of hell is being carted around to over-priced craft outlets and cheesy “cultural shows.” And don’t even get me started on those greasy all-you-can-eat buffets.

I’d rather explore cities on my own, but PJT’s Gothic-Lolita Tour has a number of perks. Tokyo can be hard to navigate if you don’t speak Japanese, so the tour guides are a plus. The itinerary offers a great deal of free time, and the activities are generally appealing.

Naturally, all of this comes at a steep price. The package, including roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Tokyo, is $1,998.00 plus a $200 fuel surcharge. If you’re making your own flight arrangements, the tour costs $1,598. You can read more about PJP’s Gothic-Lolita Tour here (note that the reservation deadline is March 3, 2008.)