Tokyo is one of the great retail capitals of the world, its streets studded with vast department stores, cute vintage stores, and colorful anima emporia. It might be hard to know where to even begin, so here’s a handy look at the best places to shop when you’re in town.
Up-scale Ginza is where fashionistas can browse the world’s most exclusive brands in luxury department stores like the iconic Wako. Connected to the rest of the city on the Yamanote Line, the district also boasts the gleaming Ginza Six shopping mall, as well as the fashion-filled Tokyo Plaza Ginza. With its array of designer boutiques sitting alongside major electronic retailers, you can see why this is known as one of the absolute best places to shop in Tokyo. As one of Tokyo’s most luxurious districts, Ginza is filled with excellent hotels if you prefer shopping close to where you’re staying.
The busiest train station, Shinjuku Station is a headrush in itself. But just wait till you step out into the labyrinth of retail havens that sprawls out all around it. You can buy pretty much anything around here, with the ISETAN department store being a must-visit for deluxe brands, and much more to browse close by in other big stores like Keio and Odakyu. Meanwhile, Lumine EST draws in teens with its streetwear brands and quirky pop culture merch, and tempting places to sit, feast, and people-watch. Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s most convenient districts to stay in, as it lies at a major transportation hub.
Japan is the land of cutting-edge electronics, and if you’re after a piece of the action then get over to Ikebukuro. Here, you can explore Bic Camera, one of the nation’s top electronics retailers, as well as its great rival, Yamada Denki. This buzzing district isn’t just about gadgets and gizmos, though. You can also go hunting for fashion and food in the Seibu department store, and the district is also known for flamboyant shops selling all kinds of anime, manga, and cosplay merch.
Where to find manga in Tokyo? It’s a question many will be asking when they come to Japan’s capital, and top of the list of locations is Akihabara. This is a vibrant hive of geekdom, where shops are emblazoned with all things anime and manga. Comics fans and gaming aficionados will be equally at home in this hotbed of otaku, or fan culture, with Mandarake being a top place to shop. After electronics instead? You’ll find everything from smartphones to underwater cameras in the colossal Yodobashi Akiba store. Staying in Japan’s manga capital is easy with Akihabara’s plentiful hotels.
Named after a bridge, which was first erected centuries ago, Nihonbashi is one of the most historic commercial quarters in Tokyo. It was a bustling hub of trade during the Edo period, and today it still draws visitors to its towering shopping and dining complexes. Look out for the flagship Mitsukoshi building, which made history as Japan’s first ever department store, as well as numerous shops selling traditional goods. Anyone interested in classic Japanese cuisine will also have plenty to sample in the local restaurants. Nihonbashi also has excellent hotels and accommodation if you’re interested in staying close to your shopping.
Foodies will be fascinated by Kappabashi, as this area attracts the city’s chefs and caterers. All kinds of cookware, from pots and pans to ceramics and super-sharp chef’s knives are sold in the array of restaurant supply stores here. You can also find plenty of culinary keepsakes, including intricately decorated chopsticks, colorful tea cups, and hand-crafted bento boxes. Look out as well for shops selling uncannily realistic plastic food, which is used in window displays across Japan. As well as all this, the area even hosts its own annual kitchenware festival.
Advice for shopping in Tokyo
There’s a clever way to bag bargains when shopping in Tokyo, and that’s by taking advantage of tax-exempt prices. As a visitor to the country, you’re eligible for exemptions in certain stores, if you spend over a certain amount. Look out for the signs and logos denoting shops offering tax-free goods, and be sure to have your passport with you, as you’ll need it to qualify.
Taking souvenirs or keepsakes back home? Remember to check if the shop offers free gift wrapping, as many will be happy to turn your purchases into cute packages ready to be revealed when you fly back. If you’re looking for electronics, keep an eye on the warranty, as it may only be valid in Japan itself. And, if you’re purchasing clothes, be sure to try before you buy, as sizes do tend to run small.
Hit the shops in Tokyo
Blending history with futuristic flair, this great capital has a lot to explore, and the stores are no exception. From Ginza to Kappabashi, there’s some serious retail therapy to enjoy here, so get out there and get shopping in Tokyo.