Japanese fashion is one of the most liberated in the world and self-expression rules. Each of Tokyo’s four shopping districts offer unique experiences, here’s what to expect.
Tokyo is an enigmatic mix of modern living coupled with traditional manners; it’s a land of high tech gadgets and cute cartoon mascots.
It’s known for Zen understatement and the ostentatious. There are traces of old Japan amongst the skyscrapers and shopping malls. There’s amazing food from fancy restaurants and hole-in-the-wall noodle shops. Here’s your essential guide to getting the most out of Tokyo.
Tokyo’s 4 shopping districts
Recommend Tokyo for any one looking to do a shopping spree overseas.
There’s plenty up for grabs from high fashion, super “kawaii” goods and electronics. Japan could be split up into four distinct shopping districts, each with its own characteristics.
Home of the world’s busiest station, Shinjuku Station, with 3.6 million passing through each day, Shinjuku is all high energy hustle.
Make Shinjuku Station your starting point and you can divide the region into three, West, South and East of Shinjuku Station. The range of goods and services on offer in Shinjuku is breath taking, and with the stores being as much underground as they are above ground, Shinjuku offers a truly 3D shopping experience.
West Exit Shinjuku has all the major department stores. It’s great for finding the best electronics and is also home to the area’s major hotels. The Odakyu Department Store and Keio Department Store are both owned by the Odakyu Shinjuku railway station, they’re both unpretentious and reasonably priced, however it’s mostly catered to women with only one floor in each of them dedicated to men.
South Exit Shinjuku is where you’ll find mind-range shopping and a little more room to breathe.
If you’re after sport, music or fashion goods, visit Shinjuku Flags a 10-floor building with retailers such as GAP, Camper and Tower Records.
On the East Exit, there’s Shinjuku-dori street for mid-range to high-end fashion whilst Yasukuni-dori offers more entertainment oriented shops and cheaper shopping.
Visit Isetan Shinjuku Department Store, founded in the late 19th century, you’ll find most major international brands across it’s three buildings. There’s also Barneys New York for your high-end fashion needs.
Shibuya / Harajuku / Ometesando
For trend-conscious young people, this area would be their Mecca. Harajuku is of course famous for their costume like fashions like “Kawaii (cute)” or “GothLoli (gothic Lolita), but there’s also that cool street style ever present that Japan has become known for.
The streets are lined with lower priced fashion brands that target young fashionistas as well as some luxury brands stores.
You can expect stores like Burberry, Bvlgari, Celine, and Chanel, Dior, Emporio Armani and Louis Vuitton peppered around this area as well as brands like GAP and Lacoste.
If you’re after one stop shops for the world’s leading brands, then it’s worth paying a visit to Omotesando Hills or ONE Omotesando.
For something distinctly Japanese, visit Shibuya 109, the most famous shopping centre in the Shibuya region. 109 houses many trendy clothing boutiques that are popular amongst Japan’s youth.
For Disney fans, and let’s face it – that’s everyone, there’s the Disney Store within Shibuya Koen-doori. They sell all original Disney merchandise from all your favourite characters.
The region is for more discerning travellers. Ginza has some of the highest priced real estate in Japan, so immediately think luxury.
Even if you can’t afford the price tags, it’s worth a visit to look at buildings designed by the world’s best architects. It’s a place where the latest trends and the oldest traditions meet.
We can’t mention Ginza without talking about the Wako Department Store dating all the way back to 1894.
This iconic department store entertains passers-by with its amazing window displays. It’s of course the place to go to spend big with the finest watches, jewellery and other luxury goods.
One of the world’s most glamourous stores, the 12-storey Mitsukoshi Department Store stocks the best fashion from leading brands in Japan and around the world.
Mitsukoshi was originally a Kimono store when it was founded in 1673 and they still have a kimono department, which is a must-visit for anyone wanting to purchase the famous Japanese costume.
They say Odaiba has something for everyone. It’s a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man made island in Tokyo Bay, originally a small man made fort islands (daiba means “fort”).
You can’t visit Odaiba without checking out Decks Tokyo Beach, a six storey shopping haven with boutiques, cafes and one of the largest amusement arcades in Tokyo, the Sega Joypolis.
For beer lovers there’s a brewery serving German-style beer. What will really blow your mind is Daiba Little Hong Kong, a whole floor turned into a miniature Hong Kong, complete with the sounds, atmosphere and the smells of Hong Kong.
You can also visit Aquacity Odabai, an immense shopping mall with boutiques, restaurants, cafes and a 13-screen cinema complex. They even house a ramen food theme park where you can try different ramen from all over Japan.
Have you been shopping in Japan? Which is your favourite shopping district?
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