From high-end to thrift shops, high-fashion to otaku culture, Tokyo has it all. But the large city can get overwhelming to explore. Whether you’re hunting for something as specific as an authentic samurai sword, or you just want to casually browse standard department stores, you’ll be able to find it in Tokyo.
You don’t talk about shopping in Tokyo without Ginza. As Tokyo’s premier upmarket shopping district, Ginza has every leading Japanese and international brand name in fashion and cosmetics. Posh boutiques and art galleries litter the affluent district. But behind all the glitz are glamour are small novelty shops such that sell cute toys and craft supplies.
An urban fountain of youth, it’s Tokyo’s Teenagers that run the fashion show here. The latest in youth fashion can be found here, with established boutiques such as Shibuya 109 that set the trends, new designers at Fake Tokyo, as well a number of smaller clothing shops. Shibuya is for the young and energetic, looking to be one step ahead of everyone on the streets. The famous Shibuya Crossing is also located here.
If you find Shibuya too overwhelming, duck in to the neighborhood of Shimo-Kitazawa, a sort of hole-in-the-wall place for students and artists. It’s got the best vintage-clothing stores and record stores, along with all sorts of quirky shops, novelty restaurants, and hidden bars.
If you want to explore a little bit of everything, come to Shinjuku. The shopping district surrounds the Shinjuku train station, considered to be the busiest train station in the world, and a major Tokyo transportation hub. With all that foot traffic, you’ve got major department stores, flagship stores of well-loved Japanese brands like Isetan, and shops on shops of electronics.
Aoyama & Harajuku
Twin neighborhoods that could not be more different; the split personality of the two parallel shopping streets makes it a great place for shopping. Omotesando boulevard along Aoyama is lined with sophisticated, high fashion boutiques.
Takeshita Dori of Harajuku, on the other hand, is the center of counter-culture with experimental fashion stalls. Accessible as it is interesting, Aoyama & Harajuku are filled with small cafes where you can just people watch. After shopping, check out these unique cafes to complete your experience.
Roppongi is considered the capital’s center of entertainment and nightlife, where you can easily catch a dazzling Oiran-Geisha Performance. With the constant influx of travelers and expats, Roppongi is Tokyo’s—and by extensions, Japan’s—most diverse district. This makes for some truly interesting shopping trips, with businesses catering to both the locals and visitors. Upscale shopping options include Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. The district also has specialty shops like Yonamine Pearls for jewelry, and Japan Sword for all your samurai needs.
The neighborhood has been nicknamed ‘Electronics Mecca,’ carrying retailers such major as Yodobashi Camera and Yamada Denki, as well all hundreds of tiny discount electronics shops all crammed into corners. Apart from electronics, Akihabara has also become home to Japan’s famous otaku culture with stalls selling all sorts of goods and fan merchandise for anime, manga, games, Studio Ghibli movies, and J-Pop culture.
But maybe you want a culture trip instead. Look no further that Nihonbashi, a neighborhood that grew from the imperial Edo period of Tokyo and still holds much of the traditional charm. Visit this bustling, old-school neighborhood for traditional goods such as kokeshi dolls and woodblock prints, as well as food from all over the region
What do they say? “Of all the books in the world, the best stories can be found in between the pages of a passport.” But that shouldn’t stop you from exploring Japan’s incredible bookstores, and there’s no better place than Jimbocho. Home to over 170 bookshops, publishing houses, and literary societies and books in both English and Japanese, this neighborhood is a bibliophile’s dream.
As you exit the JR train at Ochanomizu station, you’ll find yourself in what is nicknamed ‘Guitar Street’. Check out Disk Union which sells all sorts of musical CDs and concert DVDs. And if you want practice your newfound skills? Bring your new guitar and check out the karaoke boxes at the Yasukuni Dori end of the street.