From cutting edge electronics to colorful anime goods, traditional crafts, trendy fashion and branded goods, Tokyo shopping provides it all. The city has a shop for practically anything one could ever desire to purchase, although not necessarily in a modest price range.
Tokyo's sightseeing districts serve as shopping districts too, many of them with their own character and specialties. Whether you prefer department store browsing or just want to rummage for secondhand treasures, there will be a Tokyo neighborhood that is able to meet your shopping needs.
- Ginza is Tokyo's most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district.
- Shibuya is one of Tokyo's most colorful and busy districts, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs.
- Harajuku is the center of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles.
- Akihabara is a district in central Tokyo, famous for its many electronics shops.
- Shinjuku is one of the most vibrant "nodes" of Tokyo.
Tokyo Shopping Districts
It's no secret that Tokyo is a shopping mecca. One of the reasons people visit Tokyo is for its shopping culture. From high-end department stores to chic boutiques, the city has something for just about anyone.
With each shopping district, you will experience a different shopping scene. Here are the shopping districts and what to expect when visiting them.
This is Tokyo's premier upmarket shopping district. It features high-end department stores, boutiques, art galleries and designer brand stores. Nearly every leading Japanese and international brand name fashion and cosmetics company make its presence there, as well as major electronics brands such as Sony and Apple.
Ginza shopping is centered on Chuo-Dori, the main street stretching approximately 1 km long, and is home to luxury stores such as Bvlgari, Chanel, and Prada. Between them are immense department stores like Ginza SIX, Ginza Mitsukoshi, Matsuya Ginza, Ginza Wako, Tokyu Plaza Ginza, Barneys New York, and Marronnier Gate Ginza, where you can shop for fashionable items.
Shinjuku is one of Tokyo's largest shopping and entertainment districts. Centered outside Shinjuku Station, a major transportation hub and the busiest train station in the world, this district is home to half a dozen major department stores, including several companies' flagship stores. You may get confused whilst navigating this area.
Whether you're looking to buy fashion goods, cosmetics, or electronic gadgets, Shinjuku has everything you would ever need.
Shibuya is Tokyo's liveliest shopping neighborhood and the fountain of teen trendiness in Japan. It is home to some well-known, trend-setting clothing stores. Music shops and cheap, outrageous apparel are everywhere, as are the hip kids who come to primp and pose.
Many of the department stores in this area target young female shoppers in their early 20s. One of them is the world famous Shibuya 109, a Japanese fashion institution that has been around since 1979.
Other department stores and shopping complexes are ShinQs, Tokyu, Shibuya Mark City, Seibu, Loft, Parco, and quite a few Marui locations.
Tokyo's Harajuku district is always on the forefront of the next big trend in fashion. It has a long history and is the center of Tokyo's most extreme youth cultures and home to the famed Harajuku girls and boys.
Takeshita-Dori, aka Takeshita Street, is Harajuku's main retail pathway and the busiest shopping street in Tokyo. This popular street is loaded with clothing stores, boutiques, and shopping malls, all catering to fashion-conscious teens and quirky subcultures.
Omotesando, also recognizable as Tokyo's Champs-Elysees, is a tree lined avenue with upscale boutiques, cafes and several leading designer brand shops. It consists of several floors of fashion boutiques and shops, which are also mainly targeted at young, female shoppers.
Although the area is not hugely known to foreigners compared to the other famous areas, but Ikebukuro has been one of the most popular shopping areas in Tokyo for Japanese for many years. It is a battleground between large department store groups, including Sunshine City, Tokyo's first city within a city.
There are also numbers of electronic retail stores, such as BIC CAMERA and Yamada Denki LABI, offering a huge selection of products at very competitive rates. Ikebukuro also houses some great places to shop fashion items such as the Seibu Ikebukuro and Tobu Department Store Ikenukuro.
This district is your little piece of heaven to shop for anything that is animation and videogame-related, and a gateway to all sorts of weird things in Tokyo. Akihabara is Tokyo's prime area to get a glimpse into the otaku culture. It goes without saying that shopping in Akihabara centers around anime and gaming goods.
Because of that, you can find many electronics retailers such as Yodobashi Camera, Yamada Denki, Laox and Sofmap as well as hundreds of small discount electronics shops that are jammed along the district's streets and back alleys.
Roppongi is simultaneously one of the most loved and hated neighborhoods in Tokyo. While it is home to the Japanese head offices of foreign companies like Google, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sach, it also has a seedy reputation with an abundance of hostess bars, strip clubs and nightclubs.
However, it had a facelift with the opening of the Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown complexes which brought in hundreds of new upscale shopping and dining choices. Most shops there specialize in fashion, accessories, household goods and interior design.
Located between the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station, Marunouchi is one of Japan's most prestigious business districts. It is also where many of Japan's largest companies have their headquarters.
Over the last decade, Marunouchi has been receiving a major makeover, led by the Mitsubishi Estate Company, which owns a lot of the land in the district.
Many older office buildings were traded for new skyscrapers with offices on their upper floors and with a selection of shops and restaurants on their lower floors. These newly opened shopping and dining complexes have revived the formerly unexciting business district and are drawing an increasing number of non-business visitors in recent years.
Tokyo Department Stores, Shopping Arcades and Markets
Along with Matsuya, Mitsukoshi is recognized as Japan's oldest department store and is also one of the nation's largest. The main store is in Nihonbashi, with branches in Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Ebisu. Their first class selections of merchandise and service have been attracting many customers, and have made it the hallmark of department stores in Japan.
Takashimaya is another renowned Japanese department store chain. It serves a more upmarket clientele and offers a wide selection of luxury goods. You can find menswear on the first and second floors, womenswear on the third and fourth, children's clothing on the fifth, furniture on the sixth, and kimonos on the seventh.
Isetan is also a successful department store chain and brand with their home base in Shinjuku. Arguably the trendiest department store in Japan, it is renowned for having its window displays created by leading artists and offers only the finest in food, clothing and homeware.
In Tokyo, there are not only large department stores, but you will also find shopping malls and smaller stores. A huge number of shops in a retro passageway holds a range of goods, including cameras, electronics, pearls, and kimonos. The shops are duty-free, and most of the sales staff speaks decent English.
Shinjuku Subnade is one of the popular, very spacious, shopping arcades. It is a popular underground mall, right by Shinjuku Station in Tokyo with approximately 100 stores, offering apparel, cosmetics, food, and souvenirs, lined up inside. It is fun to have a leisurely stroll there.
Odaiba's Decks Tokyo Beach is another shopping arcade. It is a ship themed mall filled with attractions, theme parks, and it boasts impressive views of Tokyo Bay. Holding around 90 specialty stores in total, Decks Tokyo Beach stocks everything from high-end designer names to more wallet-friendly gift stores.
When we think of Tokyo, one of the first things that come to mind is shopping. With so many eye-popping goods at every corner, it is easy to get lost in an abyss of shopping centers and marketplaces.
Ameya-Yokoch, abbreviated Ameyoko, is one of the more famous markets in Tokyo. This is a vibrant, colorful market, located in the Ueno area of Tokyo market and is good for cheap clothes and accessories, fresh fish and vegetables, electronics, comic books and much more, all sold from the street-side stalls and small stores.
However, the ultimate market experience goes to the Tsukiji Fish Market. It is the largest seafood market in the city, internationally renowned for the range and quality of its fish. A visit to Tsukiji Outer Market is usually combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the local restaurants.
Traveling to Japan is an amazing experience where you can see breathtaking nature, experience thrilling festivals, sample delicious local food, and ultimately, do shopping. Aside from clothing and cosmetics, souvenirs are also an important part of shopping.
Here are some omiyage you can bring back for your friends and for yourself to help remember the amazing experiences.
Traditional Arts and Crafts
Japan is the kingdom of traditional craft-works which can make a perfect souvenir. Some examples that you can find in Tokyo include lacquerware, glassware, and dolls. There are several places where you can find these items.
Bingoya is a place which offers modest, but high-quality traditional crafts made in Japan, including pottery, fabric, lacquerware, glassware, dolls and folk art. G.Itoya is another good place which sells everyday stationery and Japanese calligraphy goods, plus fancy fountain pens, art tools, globes and other stuff.
Although it can be seen as a very simple gift, accessories make great gifts too. Japanese-inspired fashion accessories are cute, innovative, stylish, and also a little unique. Many Japanese designs, concepts, and even the culture have become very popular all over the world. This can even be seen in the fashion and products from Japan.
Some of these that you can buy include sushi socks, slippers, Hello Kitty necklaces, keychains, and also folding fans.
Clothing and Textiles
Since ancient times, the Japanese have refined their dyeing and weaving techniques, shaping and coloring their culture along the way to a bright future. Clothing has become an important aspect in Japanese culture. When visiting Japan, buying traditional Japanese clothing makes a perfect gift or souvenir.
The best known Japanese clothing is probably the kimono. The kimono is a huge part of how the world sees Japan, and to this day, it's synonymous with the ideals of this island nation. You can find many stores all around Tokyo, selling kimonos at a moderate price.
Health Care Products
Japanese skincare and beauty products are renowned all over the world for their efficacy, inventiveness and extensive range, as well as their cool design. With a wide range of health and beauty products and cosmetics, there are many specialist stores in Tokyo offering them.
These products include face creams, face masks, and also sunscreen.
Sweets and Candy
When visiting a country, the best way to experience its culture is through tasting its food, especially its snacks. Japan boasts an abundant collection of sweets and goodies.
Perhaps the most famous confectionary coming from Japan is KitKat. With over 200 different flavors, you will most likely get confused as to which flavor you want to buy as a souvenir. Another popular item is Pocky. Just like KitKat, it boasts a massive variety of fun and creative flavors and has gained so much fame. You can find them easily all around Tokyo.
Electronic Goods and Camera Equipment
Japan is one of the world's leading tech innovation countries, and there is nothing foreign tourists love more than to shop for those items. Japanese high-quality electric products such as cameras, audio, and rice cookers are popular choices for them.
Tokyo has two electric towns, Ikebukuro and Akihabara, where competitive electronics stores gather. There is no electric product you can't find in the two places, and the electronics stores provide well-stocked merchandises at discounted prices.
Prices, Tax and Payment
In department stores and boutiques, and in inner-city areas, prices are nearly always marked in Arabic numerals. When shopkeepers are unable to communicate verbally to foreign visitors, they may type the price on a calculator, or write it down.
The consumption tax is the tax charged by the Consumption Tax Law which is the municipal law in Japan. This system can be considered similar to the VAT, GST or sales tax. In Japan, consumption tax is a flat 8% on all items.
There are a variety of payment methods that are the standard way of life in Japan. Hard cash is still the order of the day in the Land of the Rising Sun. While innovative in almost all areas of technology, the Japanese have been reluctant to give up the use of cash.
Paying with credit or debit cards is generally possible at an extensive variety of businesses and services. Department stores, restaurants, malls, hotels, convenience stores, and some taxis are able to accept payment via card, with more vendors accepting credit or debit every year.
Shopping Hours and Tax-Free Shopping
The business hours of banks, post offices, department stores, as well as museums, parks and other public services and spaces in Japan may differ from that of your home country. These business hours will also vary throughout the country.
In general, large shops and department stores are open daily from 10:00 to 20:00. Smaller stores and shops around tourist attractions may have shorter hours. Most stores are open on weekends and most national holidays. Large chain stores open every day, however smaller independent stores may close one day a week or one day a month.
Tax-free shopping is available to foreign tourists only at licensed stores such as department stores, home appliance stores, and discount stores, when making purchases of over 5000 yen.
A passport is required when shopping tax-free. Note that at many shops and malls, it is necessary to first pay the full price including the consumption tax at the cashier and then obtain a refund at a customer service desk.
Be aware that any items you purchase in Japan may be subject to import duties in your home country.
Explore Tokyo with Asia Highlights
Shopping in Tokyo is usually a pleasant experience. The sales staff are generally polite, friendly and attentive, and great care is taken to provide a high level of customer service. Travel with Asia Highlights, and make your shopping experience in Tokyo the best experience you will ever have.