Tokyo is great for many things: food, culture, and of course—shopping. There are a range of shopping places here for everyone and for all budgets—cheap 100 yen shops, mid-range markets and the upscale luxurious department stores. So if you’re looking for souvenirs, that quirky one-off gift that you’d only find in Japan or a high-end handbag for yourself—you’re in luck. At Tokyo Cheapo, we like to be kind to you, so we’ve compiled a three-day Tokyo shopping itinerary for all you retail addicts. Go big, spend less—it’s up to you, and it’s all here.
Tokyo Shopping: Day 1
Department stores (Ginza Station)
First things first—where in the world do you go to shop? You’ve got your New York Fifth Avenue, London’s Oxford Street and the Champs-Élysées of Paris (if you’ve got all those euros to spend). Tokyo presents you with many shopping districts, but number one has to be Ginza. Everything and anything about this area screams chic and elegance through and through. This area is home to the city’s prettiest boutiques and those sparkling department stores.
Head to Mitsukoshi (4-6-16 Ginza, 10am-8pm) in Ginza for a true Tokyo shopping experience. This spot is the epitome of what a Japanese department store is all about, especially if you’re looking for trendy Japanese fashion and high-quality goods. This place even boasts a very unique basement food hall—original indeed!
Dover Street Market (6-9-5 Ginza, 11am-8pm), another department store in Ginza, offers everything from avant-garde brands to quirky art installations for all your Japanese one-off shopping needs. This place is particularly famous as being the top choice for fashion accessories. Expect to see lots of quirky items and hipster crowds here. There are seven floors for you to explore. Plus, there’s Komatsu Bar (7th floor, Ginza Komatsu West, 6-9-5 Ginza, Mon-Sat: 4pm-midnight) and Rose Bakery (7th floor, Ginza Komatsu West, 6-9-5 Ginza, Mon-Fri: 11am-9pm, Sat, Sun: 9am-9pm) for that much needed half-time shopping pit stop. And while department stores are on the pricier side, it’s a must-go for any true shopaholic.
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For a look into the unique world of Japanese youth culture and fashion, make Harajuku no. 1 on your list of places to visit in Tokyo.
It’s not all big department stores in this area though. There are those little tucked-away shops if you head down to the side streets. Who said shopping just had to be clothes? If you’re looking for stationery, head to Itoya where you will find nine gloriously filled floors of the good stuff. From Italian leather diaries to washi (Japanese handmade paper), you’re sure to find something new and wonderful for your office desk at home.
Vintage shops (Shimokitazawa Station)
From the Ginza shopping district, hop onto the Odakyu line to the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa for a shopping experience on the opposite end of the spectrum. This neighborhood is hip, trendy and oh so cool. Here you will find all the vintage shops that your heart desires and get those one-off vintage items and those can’t-find-anywhere-else buys. It’s a great little neighborhood just to walk around and isn’t too big on the tourist map, so you will see a real area of Tokyo with the real people of the city. And stay until evening, the nightlife boasts uber cool Tokyo hangout spots.
But this is shopping we’re talking about, so first up, go to Flamingo. You’ll spot this shop from far off in the evening with a bright yellow flamingo light shining outside. This is best for cheap vintage buys, exactly what we like to hear! This little baby has been open since 2005 and hosts a range of new clothing and American vintage numbers, going all the way from the ‘40s to the ‘80s. New stock turns over quickly and there is even retro tableware. Sweet!
You like lace you say? Shimokitazawa gives you Haight & Ashbury which sells all those classic Western pieces, antique dresses and that number one: old lace. This is more expensive than Flamingo, so is a place to go if you have a bit more yen to spend. There is American and European clothing from the 19th and 20th centuries here. Haight & Ashbury has been around the past 20 years and thus are pros at what they do. There is also a section selling lots of those gorgeous and wonderfully vintage antique dresses. You’ll also find a decent range of menswear here, so it’s not just for all for the ladies, so go ahead and spend away gents. Look out for the giant shoe outside the shop and you know you’re there.
One of our absolute favorites is Stick Out, a shop selling clothes and accessories where everything is 700 yen—no more, no less! See our review of this shop in the video below:
For more second hand shopping read here.
Tokyo Shopping: Day 2
Get up early on either a Saturday or Sunday, and head to Ohi Racecourse Flea Market. This is great little spot for the Tokyo market scene, in that it boasts a regular schedule (some of the other Tokyo flea markets can have a pretty inconsistent schedule). This particular place is one of the biggest and most popular flea markets in the capital of Japan. Here you will encounter approximately 600 vendors all trying to sell their bits and bobs. A great weekend activity running from 9am-3pm. Access: Oikeibajo Station.
Another spot to check out is Yoyogi Park (access: Harajuku Station) which often hosts various flea markets. For antiques, you’ll want to visit the park’s Japanese Antique Market, held monthly in autumn and winter, and bi-monthly in spring and summer. The park also hosts the Earth Day Market—offering organic and fair trade products and all of that ethical good stuff. If you manage to get to this market, we recommend going here for lunch too. Access: find the markets near the NHK buildings near Harajuku Station.
For more options and info, read our Tokyo flea markets guide.
Tokyo Shopping: Day 3
The last day of your shopping itinerary should be at an institution you might be used to back home—the outlet mall. Outlet malls are yet another great shopping option for Tokyo. Cheaper than the swanky department stores, this place is perfect for budget travelers. These types of shops usually carry Western-style sizes too, including those all important shoe sizes, with Japan being the hardest place I’ve ever had to buy a pair of shoes from! For more shoes you can check out our guide!
Venus Fort outlet mall tops our list. Set out like a regular shopping mall, its the third floor that offers all the good outlet shops. There are Western favorites, such as Levi’s and Puma, and a range of home goods to keep you happy here. The building itself is also impressive, with an artificial sky and a dazzling fountain. There are also some superb restaurants here, so do make a day of it. The shops are open 11:00 am-9:00 pm and the restaurants are open from 11:00 am-11:00 pm. Access: Tokyo Teleport Station
After finishing in Venus Fort and you’re still feeing the outlet mall vibe and you’re actually on the way to the airport (this is day three of the itinerary after all), head to Shisui Premium Outlet. It’s open daily from 10:00 am-8:00 pm, and closed the third Thursday of February. This particular mall has around 180 shops boasting both Japanese and international brands. So if you have a few extra yen left over, you know where to spend it. Just bear in mind the weight of your luggage. Access: Direct bus from Narita Airport or 15- to 20-minute bus ride from Shisui Station (JR or Keisei Line).
If outlet malls are you’re thing, check out this article for more top tips.
We hope you’re all shopped out now and your newly acquired wardrobe looks unique, vintage or expensive—or all three! Whether you’re more of a high-end shopper (or high-end window shopper, like me) or like a quirky vintage find, Tokyo really does offer everything from low budgets to high-spending shopping sprees. With the city being one of the most fashionable and quirkiest places on the planet, you’ll find nothing but clothing items to make you ooo, ahh and impulsively buy. Happy shopping—you’ll be a new, improved and more fashionable you when you get home.