At the risk of stating the obvious, let’s just say Tokyo is a hotspot for those prone to collecting the odd figurine or two. The city does subcultures better than most and is a must-stop destination for lovers of anime and manga that goes niche and lovers of more mainstream names like Nintendo, Hello Kitty, Studio Ghibli and Pokémon. While it might be impossible to offer a comprehensive list of the city’s best collector locations, here’s a selection of some not-to-be-missed Tokyo toy stores.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park
Spanning five floors and with a selection of around 200,000 different toys, if there’s something you’re looking for, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find it at this Ginza toy wonderland. Hakuhinkan Toy Park is known as one of Tokyo’s biggest toy stores, if not the biggest, which may sound overwhelming, but you’ll be happy to know the floors are separated by theme/brands. From Barbies on the basement floor to video games on the fourth, you’ll be able to live out your childhood fantasies in an orderly fashion.
Located in the stylish neighborhood of Omotesando, a neighborhood best known for its designer stores, sits Kiddy Land, a bright toy store dedicated to ultra-kawaii character merch. From the local classics like Gudetama and Hello Kitty and Friends to international mega names including Star Wars, Lego, Marvel, and Disney, Kiddy Land stocks it all. Given its location and sheer selection, it’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs or gifts after spending some time wandering the backstreets of nearby Harajuku.
Kobayashi Toy Shop
For something a little more nostalgic, make a trip to the internationally influenced neighborhood of Azabu Juban for a visit to Kobayashi Toy Shop. It’s a local family-run staple supplying the area with birthday and Christmas presents for over 100 years. The store sells a wide range of goods but specializes in Edo-era toys like kites and quaint stationery, along with iconic brands like Lego and Sylvanian Families. The staff also speak English, so if you need a hand, feel free to ask.
Heading back to Ginza, if there’s some Sanrio-specific item you somehow couldn’t hunt down at Hakuhinkan Toy Park, then pay a visit to the Sanrioworld GINZA store located in Nishi Ginza. As the name suggests, the store sells merch from worlds that fall under the Sanrio family—think Hello Kitty, My Melody, Kuromi, Gudetama, and Netflix-famous Aggretsuko. The shop also sells tickets to the company’s amusement parks Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland.
Possibly the most sought-after merch/toy brand in Japan, Tokyo’s Pokémon stores are plentiful. There are outliers in Nihonbashi’s Takashimaya, the conveniently central Pokémon Center Shibuya in Shibuya PARCO, and Pokémon Center Skytree Town, just to name a few. However, the centerpiece of the Pokémon stores has to be the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo & Pikachu Sweets by Pokémon Cafe in Ikebukuro. It’s home to a staggering array of Pokémon-related merch and a cafe serving up Pokémon-themed dishes when you need a little sustenance after all the Pokémon plushie hunting you’ll be doing.
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If you’re more Mario than Mewtwo, then the slick Shibuya PARCO’s Nintendo store is where you’ll want to be. The store sells all facets of Nintendo-related items and merchandise. From Animal Crossing pajamas to the newest model Nintendo Switch, and all the games you’ll need to keep you busy until next year, you’ll find it here. They also sell a unique variety of home goods, “only in Japan” pieces, and smaller items that make for the perfect souvenir, ticking all the boxes.
Spiral Toy Store
No nation does collector culture better than Japan, and Harajuku’s Spiral is an ideal example of that. This brightly adorned but cozy shop sells hard-to-find U.S. toys and imported collectible items, making it as popular with locals as with visitors. Selling new and vintage items, the store stocks a range of goods from all your favorite toy titles, including The Simpsons, Toy Story, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Ponies, and E.T.
We’ve actually covered Robot+Robot briefly before. The store, which was founded in 1997, now has a few outposts in Tokyo, including the otaku (geek) centers of Nakano and Akihabara. The store sells both Japanese and international (mainly U.S.) toys spanning all genres and mediums of the toy world, from anime figurines to matchbox cars and the like. It may not have a particular specialization, but for the sheer variety and often very affordable prices along, it’s worth visiting.
Not to be confused with Robot+Robot, Gundam Base is a store dedicated to Japan’s most iconic robot, Gundam. The store is situated in Odaiba, one of the city’s most popular tourist neighborhoods, and home to the giant Gundam statue. The store is very specialized, so if you don’t have an interest in the Gundam world, you might not find anything you like here. However, if you’re in the area and have some time to kill, it might be worth a pop-in visit just to see what’s going on.
For a deep dive into Japanese geekdom, visit Toy Barn. The store is located in Nakano Broadway, an area known as the more “local” version of Akihabara’s otaku attractions. Toy Barn’s specialty is selling secondhand/pre-loved anime figurines, which are often available for a nicely reduced price. Whether you’re on the hunt for that hard-to-find figurine, or you’re just interested in seeing what’s out there, you’ll have a lot of fun exploring the bright, overflowing shelves of this toy treasure trove.
Donguri (Ghibli Store)
Similarly to Sanrio, Nintendo, and Pokémon, Studio Ghibli also has its own collection of branded stores selling Ghibli merch for all occasions. Between Tokyo and neighboring areas of Yokohama and Kawasaki, there are nine Ghibli stores, but the flagship has to be Donguri Kyowakoku Tokyo Skytree Town Solamachi. This massive outlet sells everything imaginable that is connected or could be branded by the Ghibli family, from Kiki and Totoro to Ponyo and everyone in between. It is a popular destination with tourists, so there’s a good chance there will be staff who can speak some English if that’s of concern.