Looking to buy a rice cooker, engagement ring, washing machine, sphygmomanometer (one of those blood pressure thingies) and a bag of flour all at one stop? There’s a nine-building store in Okachimachi that has everything you could possibly want or need.
Takeya is touted as Tokyo’s oldest and most famous discount store, with its crazy total of 42 floors all stacked with surprisingly low-priced goods. Whether you’re after an Armani suit for 80% off its normal price or a family-sized bag of osenbei (rice crackers) for 140 yen, this shop has it all.
Your adventure begins with the ever-present crowds throwing snacks, tea, and crisps into their baskets. They spill out onto the street, along with the extra dried fruit and packs of nori that couldn’t be squeezed onto the shelves inside the store. Groceries take up the first floors of buildings A and B, and there’s a vast selection of foodstuffs to choose from (including jars of Jiff peanut butter – gold for Americans in Japan). The prices are noticeably lower than the other grocery stores this cheapo writer has been to. The food floor alone can wear you out, so grab an onigiri (rice ball) for under 100 yen to refuel, because there’s more shopping ahead – a lot more.
Announcements in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean (unfortunately no English) alert you to bargains as you make your way around the maze of floors. In Building A, you’ll find all sorts of home electronics and appliances – everything from electric toothbrushes to home phones, cooking ranges, toasters, vacuums, and tumble driers. Fine jewelry can also be found – it’s fun to eye the diamond rings and strands of pearls, but be warned – these prices are not cheapo-friendly.
Building B houses men’s apparel, including imported brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, North Face, and Hollister- all discounted. I was surprised to find so many high-end brands and designer items, and still can’t decide if Takeya should be classified as a department store, discount store, or both.
Of the remaining seven buildings, two are dedicated to furniture, one to ladies’ clothes and accessories, one is for home accessories, two are for office supplies and furniture, and the last one is where you’ll find bicycles (and a bicycle repair shop), garden supplies, pet stuff and wallpaper.
Clear your day when you make a trip to Takeya – it’s the type of place you go to with only a few things on your list … and then you end up needing a trailer to take all of your purchases home. I went hoping just to get some cheap snacks … but left with a new pair of chopsticks, a thermos, bento box, jar of molasses, and a bag of peanuts. And I’ll be returning for a certain mini blender and Totoro rice bowl.
Cheapo tip for tourists: Before leaving the store, you can get a tax refund on the stuff you buy.
Access: Located not even 5 minutes from JR Okachimachi station, Takeya is easy to find. Just take the north exit and you will soon see the two main buildings of the massive store. You can’t miss the big purple sign and hordes of bargain-hunters buzzing around the entrance.