In a country famous for its pervasive shopping culture, Tokyo still manages to stand out as a shopping Mecca. At every train station, travellers are greeted with at least one shopping mall built under, above, or right next door. In fact, at Shinjuku, one of the busiest areas in Tokyo, train passengers are welcomed to their destination by no less than five shopping arcades built into the main train station. Needless to say, an inexperienced shopper could easily find himself lost amongst the many options Tokyo has to offer. This guide to the best shopping in Tokyo, will make it easier to find what you’re looking for next time you find yourself in the bustling Japanese capital.
Tokyo Shopping District # 1 – Ginza
Ginza is eight blocks of high-end shopping, with some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Along the main avenue of Chuo-dori you’ll find the first Japanese department stores, such as Matsuya and Matsuzakaya, side-by-side with international brands like Chanel, Lanvin, and the Apple Store.
Ginza is home to Uniqlo’s flagship store, with four floors devoted to menswear. There’s also Gap, H&M, Zara and Abercrombie & Fitch, each with an interesting Japanese twist to their selections. Shoppers can find Japanese jewellers from Tenshodo to Mikimoto, as well as De Beers and Van Cleef & Arpels. Every major Swiss watch brand also has a boutique, from Rolex to Breitling to Patek Philippe.
Matsuya Department Store has brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Lanvin Sport, Paul Smith, Issey Miyake, Paul Stuart and Yohji Yamamoto. Or perhaps the concept store Dover Street Market by Rei Kawakubo is more your style, with select brands including Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, Thom Brown, Supreme and many more.
Tokyo Shopping District # 2 – Yuurakucho
Yuurakucho is walking distance from Ginza. Yuurakucho boasts the largest Muji store in Japan – from chic coffee pots to stylish bicycles, and comfortable weekend polo shirts to 90 degree angled ergonomic socks, they’ve got it all.
For the gentleman who’s pressed for time, there’s the Hankyu Men’s Department Store, a one stop shop dedicated entirely to menswear. Here you’ll find Viktor & Rolf, Goyard, Costume National, Paul and Joe, Dsquared2 and more. Or head to over to Garage inside Hankyu for some Alexander Wang, Rick Owens, Maison Kitsune, Wooyoungmi, and rag & bone. There you can also get a taste of Japanese brands like junhashimoto, Neighborhood, and nonnative.
Local Tip: Adjacent to Hankyu is Lumine 2. Head to Tomorrowland, which occupies the 3rd level, a mini sartorial heaven of finely curated styles from brands ranging from Acne to Dries Van Noten. You will also find Urban Research here, on the 4th level.
Tokyo Shopping District # 3 – Roppongi/Azabu-juuban
The Roppongi and Azabu-juuban area is one of the most international regions of Tokyo, with foreign embassies, multinational companies and a high concentration of ex-pats. The two main shopping areas here are Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills. Although Roppongi has gained notoriety for its nightlife, it’s an equally pleasant place to bring the family during the daytime.
Tokyo Midtown, connected to the Oedo line train station, provides luxury shopping. Expect to find famous international brands from Brooks Brothers to Harry Winston. The Suntory Museum, housed inside Tokyo Midtown, is also worth visiting, if only for the cool interiors. Delightful lifestyle stores showcase both Japanese and foreign object design. After a long afternoon of shopping, the restaurant floor in Tokyo Midtown is also well worth a visit.
Tokyo Shopping District #4 – Omotesando
If the Ginza/Yuurakucho area is the favored destination for mainstream shopping, Omotesando is the favourite for art mixed with retail. Omotesando is a tree-lined avenue that’s home to beautiful architecture and notable buildings such as One Omotesando (which houses LVMH’s brand showrooms), Omotesando Hills, Prada, Dior, Tod’s, and Ralph Lauren. You will also find flagship stores and head offices for Japanese brands and designers, including Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons.
Coming from the vast and wooded temple grounds of the Meiji Shrine, you’ll find yourself at the welcoming glass facade of Tokyu Omotesando Plaza. Although the shops are mostly geared towards women, you will find a Tokyu Hands lifestyle store inside as well as Bills (yes, Bill Granger’s restaurant) on the top floor. There are also many high street shops in this area, such as Topshop/Topman, and Singapore’s Charles & Keith for shoes and other leather goods. Tip: Head to the 6th floor of the Tokyu Omotesando Plaza, where you’ll find Starbucks and a gorgeous terrace area that turns into a craft beer garden in the summer.
In Omotesando Hills, you’ll find boutiques for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, junhashimoto, Saint Lauren, and Bottega Veneta – as well as less well known labels such as japanese brand Dartin Bonaparto, Danish denim brand Denham, and Ann Demeulemeester.
Tokyo Shopping District #5 – Harajuku
The Harajuku district’s unique approach to style is world famous. Turning left into a side street near Ralph Lauren will bring you to Harajuku (or as locals call it Urahara, meaning ‘back streets of Harajuku’), where you are greeted by a Marc Jacobs store and numerous Japanese select shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. You’ll find Paul Smith Jeans, Opening Ceremony’s Japanese flagship store, and Wut Berlin for select German labels. Other shops to look out for include the Onitsuka Tiger flagship store, Julien David flagship store, and Nemeth. For A.P.C. fans, a pilgrimage to the ‘A.P.C. Harajuku Underground’ store is a must.
Restaurant Tip: If you’re looking for a fun Japanese dining experience involving hot plates and savoury Japanese ‘pizza’, check out Sakura Tei right behind the Harajuku Design Festa gallery.
Tokyo Shopping District #6 – Shibuya
Shibuya offers mainstream shopping mostly aimed at pre-teens and those in their mid-twenties. It’s hardly a destination for serious sartorial finds, but it’s a solid choice for modern-day Japanese cultural exploration and good eats.
Here in the Hikarie tower you’ll find shops like Manhattan Portage, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and local high street brands such as United Arrows. A trip to Urban Research offers both original designs by the brand and collaborations with other labels, as well as select foreign brands from English label Barbour to collaborations like New Balance x Herschel Supply.
Through the West Exit you’ll find Mark City, another shopping area with a sprawling selection of fine foods and fresh produce. Pick up some souvenir sake to bring home, have a scoop of gelato, or perhaps take some katsudon and gourmet rice balls back to the hotel.
Tokyo Shopping District #7 – Shinjuku
Shinjuku is most popular with those in their 20s and beyond, combining both luxury and mainstream shopping. It also has a high concentration of izakaya and the ever-popular tourist destination Kabukicho, or the red-light district. Unlike other red light districts around the world, there are no scantily clad women here – instead it’s a feast of neon lights and questionable hairstyle choices.
But Kabukicho is hardly what Shinjuku is all about. Takashimaya’s clock tower is home to 15 floors of food and shopping. On the west side, you will find two department stores: the Keio Department Store and the Odakyu HALC. Both stores offer luxury shopping from Tiffany to Dunhill. For gadget geeks, head over to the huge Yodobashi Camera, divided into two buildings, one specifically for mobile phones and accessories, and another for general gear such as laptops, cameras, and even watches.
In the southeast you’ll find Lumine 2, which carries mostly Japanese boutiques as well as the likes of Opening Ceremony. You will also find Gap and Topshop/Topman, or can check out the multi-floor Comme Ca store, where you’ll find everything from kidswear to menswear, and casual clothes to RTW suits.
Elsewhere in Shinjuku, shoppers can find Gucci, Barney’s, and a 5-floor building called BEST that sells nothing but watches.
Tokyo Shopping District #8 – Daikanyama
If you’re a seasoned traveler in Tokyo and have exhausted the Shinjuku-Ginza-Shibuya circuit, this neighbourhood may be for you.
Daikanyama is a trendy district filled with sartorial finds and subtle, beautiful architecture. It’s quiet on weekdays and filled with a healthy buzz on weekends. There’s no such thing as overdressing in Daikanyama and the key word to keep in mind is style. There are tons of select shops such as Via Bus Stop, carrying brands from Avenue Shoe Repair to Carven to Wooyoungmi. Check out the moody A.P.C. men’s shop, pick up a pair of new specs from Oliver Peoples, or spend far more time than necessary picking out socks from specialty store Kutsushitaya by Tabio.
Daikanyama is where you go to feel good and be in the company of other people with exceptional taste. It’s also where you go to max out your credit card.