You don't know the meaning of retail therapy until you've shopped in Tokyo. And to prepare you for the ultimate shopper's high, we've rustled up, oh, just 100 of the best shops in Tokyo, from brand-spanking new shops to a range of both well-known and underground spots to satisfy vintage hounds, decor dreamers, paper sniffers and vinyl fiends. And even if you're just in the market for holiday souvenirs, we've got you covered too.
A streetwear brand run by a trio of illustrators and graphic designers – Skate Thing, Toby Feltwell and Yutaka Hishiyama – C.E opened its first brick-and-mortar store earlier this year in Aoyama. Elements of the UK-born Feltwell's background run up against Skate Thing's trademark Tokyo sensibilities, resulting in a constant stream of interesting creations.
The idea here was to create a shopping space within a natural, living ecosystem. Launched in 2010, Biotop takes care of your fashion, food and lifestyle needs, while even offering natural cosmetics and a plant nursery. Stock up on emerging and familiar global fashion labels such as Carven and Hyke, and then grab a healthy lunch at the rustic Irving Place café.
A Sumida-based clothing manufacturer, Ikiji brings together a collective of skilled artisans working with shirts, knitwear, leather and more, and combine traditional techniques with modern silhouettes and textiles. They deal in everything from polo shirts and sweaters to bags, business card cases and other small accessories – all of which draw on the Edo-era concept of iki (sophistication).
The futuristic decor, featuring 8,000 tiny pyramids, is just one thing to love about Laila Tokio. Lovers of classic and cutting-edge designer looks will relish in the hard-to-find designers’ archives such as Helmut Lang and Raf Simons. Look out for up-and-coming brand Hirschell, too.
Arguably the trendiest department store in Japan, Isetan Shinjuku is renowned for having its window displays created by leading artists and offers only the finest in food, clothing and homeware. It recently underwent a massive refurbishment – got to keep up with the times, of course.
After years of ducking the spotlight, Chitose Abe finally embraced the growing acclaim for her Sacai brand by opening this Aoyama flagship store in 2011. The veteran designer (who worked under Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe before going it alone in 1999) is best known for her innovative knitwear.
In addition to their Aoyama shop, Parisian brand Kitsuné also operate this chic Daikanyama location since spring 2016. Said to be inspired by the late Hotel Okura's retro interior, the décor at Maison Kitsuné Daikanyama is the work of co-founder Masaya Kuroki himself.
Dealing mainly in domestic brands like Mina Perhonen and Sina Suien, this H.P. France-run boutique caters to 'girly but feminine' fashionistas and hosts regular exhibitions at the in-store gallery. It's not as overflowingly kawaii as many of its Harajuku neighbours, making Lamp worth a visit for shoppers of all stripes.
Designer Akira Minagawa's hugely successful lifestyle and clothing brand, which incorporates Finnish influences while remaining distinctively Japanese, packed up and moved to Daikanyama in spring 2016 after 15 years in Shirokanedai. Minä Perhonen's new Hillside Terrace location is actually two stores in one.
Elle calls Toga ‘Katy Perry’s go-to Japanese label’, and it’s not hard to understand why the brand created by Yasuko Furuta has been turning heads both at home and abroad. Toga presents sophisticated yet avant-garde garments and accessories for men and women and has shown at Paris and London fashion weeks.
If you're looking to have a mod suit made in Japan, there's no better place to go than this Umegaoka classic. The subculture experienced a sudden boom among local musicians and DJs in the 1990s, and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that just about all of the Japanese artists who made the mod suit their stage uniform had their tailoring done here.
Rows of colourful, wrapped-up shoes line the walls at this Kichijoji store that offers an exhaustive range of sneakers from the likes of Adidas, Puma, Nike, Admiral, Reebok and Onitsuka Tiger. They deal in everything from the latest models to 'dead stock' while also carrying limited-edition versions – enough to pique the interest of even the most discerning sneakerhead.
Expressing the very specific ambition of being the store selling the cutest ties in the entire world, Giraffe deals only in original products – from colourful bow ties to classic business ties, simple skinny ties and chic bolo ties. We also like their women's necklace selection.
One of the longest-standing stores on Ueno's Ameyoko, Nakata is a purveyor of surplus military gear and leather jackets. They source both the real thing and replicas from all over the world, and boast an excellent selection of reasonably priced boots, coats and various accessories.
If you're yearning for an alternative to the latest eyewear trends, you can find something more distinctive at this classically styled boutique in central Harajuku. Solakzade offers a range of vintage glasses and sunglasses from Japan, the US and Europe, dating as far back as the 1800s.
Asakusa's premier antiques purveyor sure stands out on Rokku-dori. Entering the narrow building, you're sure to notice the vintage, barely functional radio playing some long-forgotten tune. Hotarudo houses a jumble of seemingly random merchandise – mainly from the Taisho period (1912-1926) – including clothing, lamps, kitchenware and even electronics.
Whether you're looking for household products or cheap souvenirs, you're sure to find what you need at this three-floor ¥100 shop, a prominent landmark on Harajuku's Takeshita-dori shopping street. Daiso makes life easier for international shoppers by offering floor guides in English.
Imagine a place where all is calm and beautifully designed with clean lines and a neutral palette. This is Muji. It stocks everything from home and office accessories to toys, crafts and even a range of skincare. This branch now also features a delicatessen, Café & Meal Muji, which offers some much-needed respite from the madding Shibuya crowds.
Opened in October 2014, this new Kagurazaka landmark plays a handful of different roles, including those of street fashion heaven, bookstore and café. The La Kagu building, designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates, is built around a 1965 storage facility that's been carefully revamped while maintaining its Showa-era charm.
Both as a studio and a retail store, this leather shop stands out from the rest. Leather artisan Yuichiro Murakami, who used to be an architect, really puts his heart – and the traditional techniques he learned in Italy – into the products. Oozing simplicity and functionality, his pieces also make for great gifts.
Steeped in the atmosphere of a bygone era, Postalco is proof that good taste never goes out of style. If you still prefer paper to iPads, you're probably going to appreciate their fabric and calfskin legal envelopes, notebooks with starch-pressed cotton covers, and travel bags that are sturdy enough to carry a stack of hardbacks.
Japanese paper specialist Kyukyodo opened its first shop in Kyoto in 1663 and supplied incense to the Imperial Palace during the Edo period. Still run by the Kumagai family that founded it, the shop moved to Tokyo in 1880. This branch in Ginza, with its distinctive arched brick entrance, still sells incense, alongside a selection of seasonal gift cards.
Run by the Terrada warehouse company – which actually does far more than just stock Tokyoites' leftover belongings – this new art supplies 'laboratory' was designed by internationally renowned architect Kengo Kuma and inspired by the look and feel of bamboo. It stocks more than 4,200 colour pigments, as well as a number of top-quality traditional East Asian tools.
A yarn specialist on Kichijoji's Nakamichi-dori, Avril occupies a cutesy red-walled building on the north side of the station. Step inside and be greeted by the sound of winding machines – the staff are always hard at work here, organising the countless varieties of yarn that adorn the walls. In addition to regular varieties, you'll find natural fibers, ribbons, stainless steel string and even raw wool.
Fans of the visual kei music genre – and wider subculture – flock to this Shinjuku store that deals in both new and secondhand CDs while also stocking a wide range of band paraphernalia and collectibles. The walls are plastered with signed posters for many of the genre's biggest names, and the shop even sells Polaroid-like 'fan service' photos.
Japanese outdoor brand Snow Peak's flagship outlet occupies a large section of the Mori Park Outdoor Village complex out in Akishima, roughly a 45-minute train ride west from Shinjuku. Tents are set up outside the store, so you can go inside and take a peek, while the indoor area is divided into sections for everything from fancy mountaineering apparel to camping supplies.
Unique cacti and succulents in an almost overwhelming variety fill the main greenhouse and spill out onto the roof at this Komagome specialist, where you'll find plants from as far afield as Peru and South Africa. It's always a fun place to visit, whether you’re a cactus enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of succulents.
It's quite clear Blue Lug isn't your average bike shop: their abundant selection of clothing, bags and accessories is curated with a cool playfulness and is sure to get your shopping juices flowing. Their bicycles are also rather reasonably priced and range from custom-made rides to vintage bikes and real bargain fare.
It could be said that Tokyo Bike is the design embodiment of the Yanaka mindset. The company have been knocking out simple, attractive bicycles, just a hop and a skip from Nezu Station, ever since they opened in 2002. The concept is simple: comfort above speed (Yanaka in a nutshell), ideally put together for the local life.
The Oizumi-Gakuen outpost of Hard Off is the recycle-store chain's largest in the Tokyo area. Dealing in used audio equipment, computers, electronics, musical instruments and clothing, it boasts a massive, warehouse-like interior. Renowned as a veritable treasure chest for collectors, the shop sees a daily stream of regulars who come in search of forgotten masterpieces and rarities.
Walk down the cathedral-like shotengai in Nakano and you’ll reach the covered Broadway section. A popular haunt for Tokyo's otaku community, this five-floor complex contains numerous outlets of Mandarake, specialising in new and second-hand manga; branches of Fujiya Avic, the second-hand CD/DVD/anime store offering rarities and bootlegs; and a large number of shops selling collectable action figures.
Founded in 1962, Shinjuku's Kagaya is one of the city's longest-running smoke shops and deals in everything from standard cigarettes to cigars, pipes and lighters. Brands from around the world are represented, with the cigar lineup being particularly impressive: you'll find fine Cubans alongside product from places like Dominica, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Take your mobile life to new creative heights with unique accessories for smartphones and tablet devices from this Harajuku store, which sources its products from around the world and displays them in handy categories such as Sports & Health, Music, Future, Business & Travel and Gadgets & Toys.
Originally established in 1950, this is one of those venues that’s become a symbol of Akihabara’s tech and fictional character culture. It closed down for renovation in 2011 but was relaunched in 2014, with a bigger and better selection of stores selling all sorts of ‘electric town’ goods such as figurines, idol merchandise and trading cards.
Founded in a Shinjuku apartment building back in 1994, this well-supported record shop was based in Hatagaya for well over a decade before moving to its current Koenji location in 2015. Underground records are the main draw, but you'll also find plenty of quirky T-shirts and self-published music mags here.
Based in Shimokitazawa and Kyoto (and online), Jet Set covers all genres with albums selected by their expert buyers. Best if you’re looking for soft rock, soul, house, disco and techno. And if you’re into Japanese pop, you’ll be amazed by Jet Set’s limited-edition 7/12 inch records.
Stocking thousands of items, Disk Union deals mainly in secondhand CDs and vinyl. The Shinjuku main store is a tall, narrow building where each floor is devoted to a different genre, including world music, soundtracks and electronica. Branches nearby specialise in dance music, jazz, funk, punk and that much-maligned genre, progressive rock.
One of the top record stores in Shimokitazawa, an area littered with shops dealing in both vinyl and CDs, the spacious Flash Disc Ranch is found on the second floor of a run-down building on the south side of the station. The vintage sound system is usually turned up almost all the way, accompanying your search for everything from rock and jazz to house and new wave.
Tokyo is well known for its vibrant record store scene, but finding a shop specialising in good old cassette tapes might surprise even the most hardcore of collectors. Waltz stocks a whopping 3,000 tapes amassed one-by-one by the owner, plus an extensive selection of vinyl, VHS tapes, vintage mags and boomboxes.
Tower Records was given an extensive overhaul in late 2012 that increased its whopping 5,000 square metres of floor space. There’s now a bookstore and a decent café on the 2nd floor, and the music sections give prominent placement to back catalogue stock as well as new arrivals.
Located in underground shopping mall Yaesu Chikagai, right by Tokyo Station, Hasegawa carries a truly extraordinary selection of sake, shochu, craft beer, whisky and other types of hard liquor. With exotic bottles of single malt decorating its shelves, the shop feels almost like a museum to booze – and even better, it’s interactive.
Numata-san runs this small family-owned but very focused wine store. In 1997, he converted the shop from an everyday liquor store to centre around natural wine after drinking his first glass and finding an instant connection to the grape and a sense of the terroir. It spurred him to learn more and eventually convert not only his shop but his whole philosophy to match that of the natural wine maker and consumer: easy life, easy wine.
So you thought Himalayan Pink Salt was unique? Science graduate and salt expert Sonoko Tanaka, who opened her shop Solco in December 2014, provides a whole new world of experimentation for salt addicts. She sources the different types of salt from Japan and around the world, always carefully analysing taste and compatibility with different foods. Next to each salt on display, you'll find a card describing the characteristics, origin and taste, and the story of each salt.
This Kichijoji tea specialist has been a neighbourhood fixture since 1996, keeping locals well caffeinated with leaves and packaged tea from countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and China. Sampling is allowed, and you're sure to have fun comparing the many seasonal varieties. If your Japanese is up to par, try prodding the staff for further details.
Shinjuku's premier coffee specialist draws you in with the aromatic beans (both roasted and fresh) sold at the entrance, while the shop interior is littered with countless coffee-related contraptions – from hand-driven coffee grinders to espresso machines and roasters, plus spare parts for all of the above.
Founded in Kyoto in 1717, this 300-year-old purveyor of fine tea makes every effort to maintain consistently delicious flavours throughout the year. Ippodo’s Marunouchi outpost is your one-stop shop for all things green tea, and even houses a fully equipped tea room fit for serious sipping.
The world's first completely kitchen-focused Conran Shop is found inside Shibuya's Hikarie and sells stylish supplies hand-picked from all over the globe. It's all very pricey, sure, but just looking at the displays might inspire you to start freshening up your own kitchen.
Today’s Special is the brainchild of popular Tokyo lifestyle brand Cibone and primarily stocks food, but they also have a wide range of household goods, clothes and healthcare products. The third-floor café, Today’s Table, sells seasonal dishes for hungry shoppers.
Turning out exquisite handmade furniture since 1940, Karimoku 60 is an institution. The company’s creations are all made from domestic wood and designed to suit Japan’s smaller homes. Their iconic K Chair’s design has stayed the same since 1963 and remains the company’s flagship product. Their Shinjuku store is the perfect place to find your crib’s new centrepiece.
If you're into Japanese magazines, this antique bookshop on Jinbocho's Suzuran-dori will feel like a small slice of heaven. There's a particular focus on fashion mags, from domestic greats like Olive and Heibon Punch to Vogue and vintage Brooks Brothers catalogues, but you'll also find quite a few photo books.
Japanese photography expert John Sypal calls this Jinbocho bookstore ‘four floors of incredibleness’. Komiyama stocks photobooks by all the giants of Japanese photography as well as plenty of Western photography. Primarily but not exclusively a photo shop, Komiyama also carries books on fashion, design, Japanese history and art.
Consisting of Ima Gallery, Ima Books and Ima Cafe, this 500m2 concept store in Roppongi focuses on photography. It provides a fresh space for photographers from both Japan and abroad to exhibit their works and share their philosophies through workshops and talk events. The bookshop carries over 2,000 titles.
In a perfect world, all bookshops would be like this. Tokyo's Klein Dytham Architecture won an award at the World Architecture Festival for their work on Daikanyama T-Site, which is spread across three interlinked buildings adorned with lattices of interlocking Ts. It's easy to lose hours thumbing through the selections here, which include a good range of English-language titles, art books, antique tomes and magazine back issues.
Although floors one to five were unfortunately closed in August 2016, Kinokuniya's other Shinjuku outpost is still one of the best bookstores in Tokyo for foreign-language publications. Head to the sixth floor for books, magazines and more in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and many other languages.
Founded over 100 years ago, Noritake is one of Japan’s oldest and most distinguished makers of Western-style tableware. You can pick up all kinds of high-end china and porcelain crockery at the company's flagship store – which carries products from Okura Art China, the Imperial household's purveyor of choice.
Look out for the gleaming blue building in the residential backstreets of Aoyama: Kichijoji-based Billboard's more centrally located outpost deals in greeting cards and postcards from all over the world – hence the shop name. Choose from over 700 kinds to make sure you get the right one for the occasion and the recipient.
You might find yourself falling in love with the art of writing again after a visit to this specialist stationery shop. Kakimori’s range of pens, inks and letter sets are chosen on the basis of how comfortable they are to use, and customers are welcome to try out the fountain pens in store. Best of all are the made-to-order notebooks, prepared in five to 10 minutes, with an infinitely customisable selection of covers, paper and bindings available.
The showroom of Takeo, Japan's foremost expert in paper trading. Find all kinds of paper for printing, artworks, envelopes and much more – a whopping 2,700 different kinds are available. The second floor is dedicated to exhibits highlighting paper samples from both Japan and elsewhere.
Found on a back street off Aoyama's Kotto-dori, this museum-like stationery shop specialises in ink brushes and fountain pens, imported from all over the world and neatly displayed all over the smallish space. Take time to decide on your favourite at the in-store café, but do prepare to pay good money for quality.
An import stationer in Kichijoji, Giovanni feels like a museum of treasures for those excited by 'aristocratic' sealing wax, replicas of medieval astronomy paraphernalia or novelty goods from the Medicis' collection. The shop owner boasts an extensive collection of traditional European stationery – think feather pens, parchments and extremely official-looking seals – and some of the items are only available here.
Established in Nara back in 1716, Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten is one of those venerable crafts purveyors that have survived through the centuries by relying on quality, tradition and gradual adaptation to changing times. This Marunouchi store, their Tokyo flagship, stocks an extensive range of collaborative items, including the Hasami line made with Nagasaki porcelain.
Mitsukoshi is Japan's oldest surviving department store chain, dating back to 1673, and this vast edifice is its flagship store. If you need assistance in English, head to the 2nd floor of Mitsukoshi's Annex building and look for the Foreign Customer Service Counter.
Founded in 1908, Kama-Asa in Asakusa’s Kappabashi (also known as Kitchen Town) deals in everything from kitchen knives (up to 80 different kinds) and exquisite Nanbu Tekki ironware to items like stylish crane-shaped graters and some of the best frying pans. Buy a knife and they’ll engrave it for you at no extra cost.
Specialising in Edo Kiriko glassware, Kameido-based Hanashyo also operates this Nihonbashi store and showroom. One of today’s premier names in this traditional art, the origins of which reach back into the 1820s, Hanashyo’s gorgeous, stylish wares make for impressive souvenirs.
Fittingly located on the north side of Asakusa’s Kappabashi (aka Kitchen Town), this specialist shop carries a dizzying variety of chopsticks in different lengths, colours and shapes – ask the staff to pair you up with ones that fit perfectly in your hands. An engraving service is also available.
Unlike conventional flower shops, this one primarily stocks wild grass. The seasonal plants and blooms they carry may be simple, but they're sourced from all over Japan and hold a certain charm. You'll also find flower pots and bonsai trees, while there's a tea room – decorated with more wild grass, of course – on the second floor.
A stone's throw from the futuristic marvel that is the Tokyo Skytree, Atelier Sougeikan offers calligraphy lessons where you’ll get a chance to decorate an item of your choosing, such as a fan or a lantern, and take your creation home with you. They also sell reasonably priced souvenirs – we love the lacquer-drawn Skytree posters.
Found deep in residential Setagaya, D & Department deals in long-lasting furniture, everyday essentials, books, CDs and much more, including quite a few secondhand wares. The store functions as a base for a variety of design projects, recycling experiments and other events.
The Beams Japan flagship in Shinjuku was re-opened in bigger and better form in April 2016, and now spreads out over a total of six floors. You'll find a dizzying collection of clothing, crafts and art, plus a gallery hosting an eclectic array of events and exhibitions and a branch of Ebisu's Sarutahiko Coffee on the ground floor.
Found on the National Museum's ground floor, this store carries a whopping 4,500 items at all times – from paraphernalia related to ongoing exhibitions to original products themed on works from the museum's permanent collection. You'll find bags, stationery, accessories, replicas of famed artworks...all superb souvenir options.
Find out what’s behind the mask at Shuhei Okawara's funky store in old Tokyo: Omote is found along a quiet, nostalgia-oozing shopping street in Sumida's Kyojima and has become a favourite among the city's actors, mask-makers and headwear enthusiasts. The selection ranges from the usual to the fetishistic.