Tokyo Shopping

Tokyo Shopping Guide

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Few places on the planet boast a wider array of shopping options than Japan, and Tokyo sits at the very pinnacle. For the avid shopper, Tokyo is simply paradise – with its numerous colorful open air shopping arcades, mega shopping centers, eclectic Otaku, punk fashion boutique shops, and everything in between.  Whether it’s electronics, toys and crafts, fashion or cookware, Tokyo sets the trends for the rest of the world to follow.

Fashion

 

Known as one of the world’s most exhilarating shopping meccas, Tokyo thrills both the avid and casual shopper countless possibilities when it comes to fashion.  From numerous department stores and malls to subway station shopping complexes, posh boulevards packed with flagship luxury apparel mega-stores to back alley boutiques selling offbeat and vintage goods, there’s no shortage of fashion finds in Tokyo.

GINZA: Often regarded as the Fifth Ave of New York or Oxford Street of London, Ginza is the ritziest and biggest upscale shopping district in Tokyo, boasting the best mix of the traditional and modern. For those looking for the latest and greatest, Japan’s finest arts and crafts, or just some plain old window shopping and people watching, Ginza is a highlight for any shopping enthusiast. Notable “must visits” spots include:

Ginza Tokyo Travel

Dover Street Market Ginza

Offering more than 50 domestic and international apparel brands, ranging from luxurious to casual styles, including the full collection of leading Japanese brand, Comme des Garçon, this shopping building is a new-concept store that overturns fashion stereotypes.

Hankyu Men’s Tokyo

Hankyu Men’s Tokyo is the leading specialty men’s fashion store in Tokyo’s Ginza and Yurakucho neighborhoods.  The selection of carefully chosen luxury products is the best in Tokyo with everything from the world’s big name brands to labels by Japanese designers on offer.  Visitors from abroad can get a 5% discount coupon at the Information counter on the 1st floor by presenting their passport.

OMOTESANDO: Located in the Harajuku district, Omotesando is a wide tree-lined avenue leading to the most popular shrine in Tokyo, Meiji Jingu shrine and Yoyogi Park.  Famous for its shopping and sometimes referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Élysée, Omotesando is Tokyo’s second largest upscale shopping neighborhood after Ginza, offering international brand clothing as well as high-end domestic boutiques.  When strolling about Omotesando, be sure to check out:

Omotesando Hills Shopping

Omotesando Hills

This six-level atrium contemporary shopping mall and residential space is packed with over 100 high-brand boutiques, gourmet restaurants and art galleries, and has disseminated various trends as the hub of Japanese fashion and cultures.  Designed by architect Tadao Ando, Omotesando Hills has become the new landmark of Omotesando.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

This towering castle-like structure, which has been dubbed as “Omohara”, was designed by award-winning architect Hiroshi Nakamura with a multifaceted entranceway consists of an impressive kaleidoscope of mirrors. Since its opening, Omohara has emerged as a fortress of fashion, housing major retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Tommy Hilfiger and The Shel’tter Tokyo, as well as a host of smaller domestic Japanese brands. It also offers many other shops that you wouldn’t find anywhere else, ranging from specialty stores to Anime-themed goods shops.

SHIBUYA: Where Ginza and Omotesando are catered more towards sophisticated grown-ups, Shibuya is home to the fashion-conscious youth. Famed for its “Shibuya Crossing”, considered the busiest intersection on the planet, comprising of 5 major crosswalks accommodating over 2,000 pedestrians at any given moment during peak hours, Shibuya is the center for teen fashion and culture, from which many of Japan’s fashion and entertainment trends originated. The streets of Shibuya are packed with upscale boutiques, ateliers, galleries, dining and nightclubs, serving swarms of tourists and locals alike. Besides the hundreds of shops that line the area, Shibuya 109 stands apart from the rest.

Shibuya Shopping

Shibuya 109

Located at the heart of Shibuya is the iconic Shibuya 109.  Established since 1979, Shibuya 109 is the birthplace of gyaru culture in the early 2000s and is famous for its trend-setting fashions for women in their early 20’s.  This iconic institution is a mecca for girl’s fashion with more than 100 shops of girl’s branded apparel, cosmetics and accessories. Shibuya 109 carries women’s fashion only, but its little brother, 109 Men’s, can be found nearby.

SHINJUKU: Home to the busiest train station in the world serving more than three million people a day, Shinjuki is synonymous with Japan’s epicenter of entertainment, shopping and dining. As civilization in Japan often centers around major transportation hubs, the immediate surroundings around Shinjuku station boast a myriad of restaurants and pubs, mega-department stores and fashion boutiques that cater to all.

Shinjuku Shopping

Shinjuku Station:

For shopping in Shinjuku, one need not look (or walk) further than the train station itself. “Shinjuku Station”, ranked #1 as the  place to shop in Tokyo, is one of the largest shopping complexes in Japan. It is the one-stop shopping destination with an enormous variety of just about everything under the sun.  Shinjuku Station sports two underground malls, Odakyu Ace and Keio, and four large department stores including the famous Lumine, Mylord, Keio and the world renowned Isetan.  Shinjuku station is also where you can find Bicqlo, an eight floor mecca that is a unique collaboration between the Japanese fashion store Uniqlo and giant electronics superstore – Bic Camera. For some fresh air, stroll thru the Mosaic Dori, a colorfully decorated narrow pedestrian shopping alleyway which links Mylord with Keio department stores, lined with shops, cafés and bars.

If all this shopping has gotten you a little hungry, Shinjuku station is also home to one of the most popular depachika in Japan.  Depachika is a nickname for basement of department store, which in Japan, is reserved for food market.  Here, you can find the best treats across Japan and worldwide, from tantalizing bento boxes to the famous Japanese red bean cakes to even the world-famous Jean-Paul Hevin’s chocolatier shop.

Jewelry

Gala Okachimachi

Located between the Ueno and Akihabara district in the eastern part of Tokyo, only minutes’ walk from the JR Okachimachi station, Okachimachi is Tokyo’s Jewelry District with over 150 jewelry shops offering a variety of jewelry from gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, pearls and stones.  Among these, Gala Okachimachi offers high quality, reasonably price and large range of selections, ranging from very rare large-sized diamonds to color stones and pearls.  All their quality-guaranteed products are manufactured at its own factory in Japan.

Tokyo Jewelry Shopping

Atelier Shinji, Ginza

If you want fun, unique, custom contemporary handmade jewelry, check out this store in Ginza, Tokyo. Atelier Shinji Ginza is located in a quiet part of Tokyo’s glamorous Ginza district. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to create your own piece of jewelry that is completely personal and original, either with your own ideas or by collaborating with the store’s designers.  Select from three different lines of design: “Shinji” focusses on seasonal and traditional Japanese motifs; “Amamika” on contemporary design inspired by the details of everyday life; or “Shinji Classic” – timeless Japanese nature motifs inspired by classic Art Nouveau styles.

Mikimoto Boutique

You cannot shop for jewelry in Tokyo and not make a visit to Mikimoto Ginza 2, also known as Mikimoto Boutique Ginza.  Founded by Kokichi Mikimoto, an inventor who created the first cultured pearl in 1893, Mikimoto Boutique Ginza is a luxury Japanese jeweler that specializes in cultured pearls, but offers both luxury and casual jewelry.

Mikimoto Boutique is located on Namiki street near the center of Ginza and is a short walk from a number of stations. Its building is considered a Ginza landmark built by the renowned architect Toyo Ito.

Electronics

 

When it comes to electronics and tech gadgets, Tokyo stands in a league of its own.  Japan is home to the biggest and most innovative electronics companies in the world, and Tokyo serves as the “showroom” for these technological marvels. Whether you are looking for the newest gizmos that have yet made it to the West, or niche gadgets that will never be exported, you’ll find it here.  Whether you’re an avid gadget lover or just looking to bring home some cool techno souvenir, look no further than Akihabara, a.k.a. Electric Town, dubbed arguably the number one technological utopia in the world sporting everything from the latest mobile gadgets to rare video games to super high-end cameras that are light years ahead of your local BestBuy.

Omotesando Hills Harajuku

The main Chuo Dori Street and side streets around Akihabara house hundreds of electronics shops, offering everything from the newest mobile phones, computers, cameras, televisions, electronics parts and home appliances. Second-hand goods, figurines and electronics junk, among many other electronics and non-electronics goods can also be found here. Besides electronics, Akihabara is equally famous for its Otaku (Japanese Anime) culture lined with comic books and “gachapon” vending machines stores, Cosplay fashion boutiques and “Maid” Cafes.

As a general rule of thumb for purchasing electronics goods, it’s always good to go with reputable vendors, especially as a tourist. Here are a couple of our choice vendors:

Yodobashi Camera

Located on the east side of Akihabara Station and opened on September 2005, Yodobashi Camera or Yodobashi Akiba is a behemoth building of 9 floors – 6 of which are dedicated to just electronics where you can find a gadget for every occasion. This is one stop shopping for computers, games, watches, cameras, home appliances and international models.

Staff at Yodobashi know their products well and this is a place where you can find tax free service plus English-speaking staff.  Here, you will also find golf store, food court, restaurants, game corner, a batting café, even a driving range!  Even if you are not here to shop for electronics, if you are a tech enthusiast, Yodobashi Camera is a must-see Japanese experience.

Bic Camera Shibuya Shopping

Bic Camera in Shibuya

Outside of Akihabara, Bic Camera in Shibuya is another destination for tourists and locals alike to shop for electronics.  There are three different Bic Camera stores in Shibuya: Shibuya East Exit Main Store, Shibuya East Exit Annex Store and Shibuya Hachiko Store.  Bic Camera Shibuya offers English-speaking staff, which can be a big help if you need expert advice.  They accept all major credit cards and many purchases are duty free for foreigner. All you have to do is show your passport at checkout.

Fine Crafts

Aoyama Square

This Traditional Craft Center in Aoyama offers handy one-stop shopping for a range of Japanese crafts. It is the only gallery and shop in Japan that exhibits and sells traditional crafts from across the country with over 100 different kinds of traditionally crafted products such as lacquerware, pottery and porcelain, woven textile, washi paper, and other categories designated as traditional crafts by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.  These products are made by hand from traditional materials and by specially trained artisans using traditional techniques that are over a century old.

Tokyo Fine Craft Shopping

In addition to the permanent collection and exhibition, artisans give demonstrations here regularly and invite visitors to try their hand at craft production, offering the precious opportunity to get a close-up view of skills passed down for generations and hear stories of the creators.

Nihonbashi: North of Ginza, Nihonbashi, which literally mean Japan Bridge, is the traditional centre of Tokyo commerce.  Though the area has flourished with bustling shops, restaurants and tasteful new additions such as the Coredo Muromachi complex, many shops with centuries-old history are still operating in the district today with many of them selling Japanese traditional crafts. For those inspired by Japanese fine arts, here are a few of our personal favorites:

Shodo, or Japanese calligraphy, is one of the most time-honored and popular fine arts of Japan. One of the most essential ingredients of Shodo is washi, a special type of paper traditionally made by hand using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry, that are used in a variety of Japanese fine-arts. Washi paper used for Japanese calligraphy can be found in places like Haibara, Ozu Washi and Yubendo.  Ozu Washi also offers workshops and classes on how to use washi for various crafts.  Other interesting spots include Ibasen, which specializes in Japanese fans; Edo Kiriko no Mise Hansho which features Edo Kiriko cut glass items, another one of Japan’s traditional crafts; and Chikusen, where you can find beautiful light summer kimono, wrapping cloths and other traditional Japanese apparel; Zohiko and Kuroeya stores for traditional lacquer ware; and Ichiru that boasts some of Japan’s most beautiful kimonos along with kimono-making and tea ceremony demonstrations.

Otaku

 

Japan is a mecca for obsessive anime fans or otaku, and Tokyo has many places that cater to every otaku’s dream.  Nowadays, Akihabara is considered by many to be Japan’s center of otaku and anime culture, boasting a plethora of anime and Manga apparel, figurines, retro video games and revered collectibles. Besides the dozens of small shops you’ll see dotting the streets of Akihabara, ones here are not to be missed, but before checking Akihabara off the list, be sure to enjoy yourself a nice cup of coffee or dessert at one of the district’s famous “Maid Cafés – it will be an experience in and of its own!

Tokyo Shopping Otaku

Mandarake Complex

The biggest anime shop in the world and one of the most popular trading posts in Akihabara is the Mandarake Complex, sporting eight floors of anime, TV superheroes, hentai CDs and videos, characters and mascots, and manga comics, new and used. Over a million items are on display, and some 45,000 manga titles, anime DVDs and toys are bought and sold here each week. Lonely Planet wroteWhen otaku (geeks) dream of heaven, it probably looks a lot like this giant go-to store for manga and anime.”

Comic Toranoana

This store is characterized by its “dojinshi” which means self-published manga or fan-produced magazines.  Toranoana is where Japanese comic fans gather.  There are 3 Toranoana branch shops in Akihabara: Akihabara Store A which is the flagship shop; Akihabara Store B, where there is an exclusive floor for women, and Akihabara Store C is the core shop.

Though most of the products available at the stores are comic books, other types of products such as computer games, anime CDs and DVDs and other otaku goods can also be found here.  Though the products at Toranoana are all in Japanese, it is still fascinating for tourists to do window shopping here.  

Traders

Located directly on Ankihabara’s main road, Chuo-dori, Trader is another of those multi-story shops where you can find games and anime products.  One of Ankihabara’s largest second hand shops, Trader has a great stock of the newer and most popular video games at very attractive prices.   The staff is friendly and helpful and the store is clean and well-lit.

Recommend tours for Tokyo travel & beyond:

For additional tours of Japan, be sure to check out our extensive array of  luxury and private Japan Tour Packages.

 

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