Souvenirs come in many forms, and sometimes shopping can be a great way to see a city—whatever your excuse, these Tokyo shopping neighborhoods are where to go!
Whether you’re after bargain gifts or chic clothing stores, there’s somewhere in Tokyo to find your perfect item, be it a vintage dress or personalized chop stick. Rather than trekking miles through brightly-lit shopping malls, here you you can explore a neighborhood, maybe get a coffee or have lunch, all while enjoying some classic retail therapy.
Harajuku – Alternative fashion
So it may be a cliche, but once you get past the craziness of Takeshita Street (apart form those sock shops which are amazing) the surrounding back-alleys and side streets have some brilliant one-off boutique and trendy shops with unusual finds. If you continue down the street and cross into Ura-Harajuku and Cat Street, you can find plenty of interesting design stores and independent shops along with lots of great food and coffee. Alternatively, inside some of the larger stores like Laforet you can find some pretty alternative Japanese brands (along with queues to get to them most of the time and great end-of-season-sales). There are name brands such as Stussy and Monki as well as the ever-familiar H&M and Forever 21 for your basics, but exploring the smaller shops is much more interesting! If you want more than clothes, there’s a large Daiso with multiple floors that’s great for small gifts and some plenty of beauty shops to keep you well-stocked in face-masks and treats.
You can find some of the classic Lolita fashion at 6% Doki Doki, which some pretty cool store displays and very, very cute accessories. Dog has clothes so weird Lady Gaga is a customer (photo above) and Ragtag has three whole floors of secondhand high-brand clothing.
Ginza – For window shopping
Now, if you have cash to splash from all your cheapo savings, or you just enjoy a bit of window shopping, Ginza is the place to go. The fashion center of the city, here you can buy diamonds, experience haute couture and bankrupt yourself within half an hour. The main road is Chuo Street which is pedestrianized on weekends and holidays until 5pm just to facilitate shoppers, so it’s a serious business. The three streets that run parallel are also primary shopping spots, as are the small tree-lined streets connecting them. Alongside smart eateries and coffee shops, there are also a myriad of small art galleries to explore in the area (definitely helps the classy feel). The reputation is based on the collection of high quality and age-old department stores here, including Mitsukoshi, the oldest chain in Japan, it was founded it 1673. Alternatively, the new Ginza Six just opened in April and is a luxury fantasy land with a rooftop garden and a Noh theater (just because). During the Christmas period Ginza has some impressive illuminations put on by the stores and is a great place for an evening wander.
Suzonoya is a great place to head for all things Japanese, with yukata and kimono as well as traditional craft items—as well as being tax-free if you have your passport with you. For something a little more unusual, you can visit Dover Street Market which has a great mix of designers, originally launched in London by the founder of Comme des Garçons and brought to Tokyo in 2012. With a rotating selection of collaborations and one-offs, you’ll definitely not be bored, even if you don’t find anything that floats your boat. On a more affordable they also have the largest branch of Uniqlo in the city, with 12 whole floors of affordable clothing to browse.
Shibuya – All in one place
With the icon of the Shibuya 109 building, it’s no wonder Shibuya is a shopping central, from clothes to stationary to records. When you enter the world of 109 you can stock up on gyaru fashion with choices from across the 10 floors, from kawaii to Lolita to punk—it has everything. With stores fighting to keep their spot by competing with revenue, it means there is a steady turnover of stores keeping things interesting. There are some familiar brand shops here with an impressive castle-shaped Disney store and of course Tower Records with a cafe, 8 floors of music and a basement of live event space. For a more wandering shopping experience head to Shibuya Jinnan which has a more boutique feel with classy independent shops. You can also head towards Aoyama and enjoy a similar but pricier vibe there too!
Shibuya has more than just clothes though, with giant stores of both Loft and Tokyu Hands offering basically everything you could ever need, from household items to craft to designer pop-up sections and more. Great for nicer souvenirs, they also have skincare sections and handy tech areas so it’s easy to get lost in them for an afternoon. Shibuya is now home to Mega Don Quijote too, the neon-fueled shop of nightmares and or dreams, with food to character goods to sex toys and socks, Don Quijote is a bit of a running joke in Tokyo, as you really can find anything here, and it’s usually pretty cheap too.
One of the best things about the Shibuya Loft store is the rotating designer section with unusual gifts and goods you wont see elsewhere, not to mention the giant Muji store attached to the side of it. If you need some nicer souvenirs (i.e. not Daiso) this is a great spot to find them. With everything from traditional bento boxes to cute stationery to ranges specifically designed to be unique souvenirs, you’ll not struggle to find the perfect gift here. For cheap, secondhand clothing we recommend Don Don Down. We also have a guide to the best record shops in Shibuya here!
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno:
Jiyugaoka – Classy weekends
Despite being only 10 minutes from Shibuya, Jiyugaoka is pretty unknown territory for visitors but is slowly turning into a pretty trendy spot. Although there has always been money in Jiyugaoka, it’s recently becoming a bit of a younger area, with nice restaurants, cat donuts and plenty of independent home-ware and fashion stores. The main pedestrianized area is nicknamed Green Street thanks to all the trees and lends the area a permanent weekend feel which is hard to shake off. With more coffee shops and lunch spots than you can shake a stick at along with plenty of al-fresco cafes, this is a great spot for people watching too, with a lot of dog owners and interesting characters. Shops are mostly independent and not-so-cheap but there are always exceptions, and window shopping is totally fine too!
Today’s Special is a great shop filled with little items you never knew you needed but definitely want. From home-ware to beauty, they have plenty of lovely things that make great gifts (for others, or yourself of course) as well as having a seasonal cafe for a mid-shop break. If you are a bit of a camera enthusiast then pop into Popeye Camera for all the accessories and trinkets you will ever need.
Shimokitazawa – The vintage hot spot
Definitely the trendy vintage area of Tokyo, Shimokitazawa is sometimes cool to the point of painful, but good for shopping nonetheless. There are plenty of vintage, secondhand, bric-a-brac and stores with piles and piles of 70s-90s clothing, but don’t expect to find much that is truly vintage, this stuff is more throw-back. Given Japan’s aversion to charity shops or secondhand goods, this is the re-branding that is required to shift these clothes while adding to the price. The stores vary, some with fixed prices for all items, some with prices indicated by fruit labels and some with regular varied amounts… some have themes like Americana or military, but there are definitely plenty of plaid shirts and questionable dresses. Shimokitazawa is also good for record shops, so good in fact we have a whole article on it here!
You can try Ocean BLVD for some quirky variety or one of the largest branches of Chicago. For men there are more options at Flamingo and they have great low-price sales.
So if you’re looking for something a little more specific, there are some great areas to head to in Tokyo. For everything kitchen and cooking based Kappabashi is the place to go. They have everything from the plastic food models to the best knives in Japan, so enjoy! If you’re more into stationery, we have a great guide to finding all the best buys. If it’s flea markets you’re into, check out our latest guide here. Lastly, if you’re gonna need more than a day of shopping, here’s our 3-day itinerary for shopaholics.
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