Shopping in Tokyo is definitely an exciting experience, but it can get quite pricey if you don't know the capital's more budget-friendly stores. To help you out, we've collected the best outlet malls and shops where you can get the most bang for your buck. From discounted designer fashion – think of brands such as Coach, Seiko, Armani and Burberry; high-quality tableware of international brands including Royal Copenhagen, Swarovski or Villeroy & Boch, to gourmet treats and home décor – these places have everything you're looking for with a price tag your bank account will thank you for.
For a discount shopping spree
The Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu in Chiba – Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture across the bay – is the largest outlet mall easily accessible from the capital. Hop aboard the direct shuttle bus (the journey takes about 50 minutes) at Shinjuku or Tokyo Station and treat yourself to an extensive shopping spree.
The outlet park is designed to look like a resort and it houses Japanese and international luxury labels, covering fashion for men, women and kids, sportswear, kitchen equipment, homeware and more. Expect brands such as Diesel, Coach, Seiko, Armani, Le Creuset, Longchamp, Nike, Saint Laurent and Beams all usually discounted by 30 to 60 percent – and up to 80 percent during sales. Moreover, Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu features 17 shops that don’t exist in any other outlet malls in Japan, including Balmain, Belstaff, Mister Gentleman and Mulberry.
A recently completed extension has taken the total of stores for you to browse to 308. So it’s a good thing you can rest your feet (and perhaps assess the damage to your bank account) at the food court or the many restaurants and cafés onsite. If the 38 F&B options leave you indecisive, you can always head to the dependable Kaneko Hannosuke at the food court for its satisfying tendon (tempura over rice). Rest, refuel and get ready to go again.
Want a good view of Mt Fuji? The Gotemba Premium Outlets is so near to the iconic mountain that you can get a marvelous view of it on a clear day from the mall’s East Zone entrance. Which goes some way towards compensating for the 90-minute direct bus ride from Tokyo Station.
By far Japan’s most popular outlet mall, this Gotemba venue is laid out like an old American town, with 200 or so shops spread across two zones connected via a pedestrian bridge. The directory here reads like a list of the world’s most coveted brands: Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Bodum, Bose, Burberry, Celine, Dyson, Fendi, G-Shock, Givenchy, Gucci, Issey Miyake, Kenzo, Nikon, Prada... you get the idea.
You could make this a stopover in your day trip to the onsen resort of Hakone but it’ll take a full day to properly explore the entire mall. Don’t worry, there are ample restaurants and cafés here to keep you going.
Furnishing wonderland Outlet Cheers has a great eye for detail. The aisles may be narrow, but they are well-arranged and chock-full of unique and rare tableware from domestic and international brands, home décor items, furniture such as chests of drawers and chairs, and even the odd piece of jewellery.
The products here are either secondhand goods or returned items with some damages on the packaging – which is why you’ll get them at nearly half the original price. Outlet Cheers also offers seasonal and holiday items for your home, and it’s great for souvenir hunters too as there’s a huge selection to choose from.
Ginza may be the upscale shopping district of Tokyo, but hidden amongst the glitzy boutiques and luxury malls are a handful of stores catering to more humble budgets. One of them is Le Noble, which offers imported tableware from around the world at slightly lower prices than the department stores. These are not defective goods, but the actual premium stuff that has been rendered cheaper due to bulk imports.
The shop offers around 300 top brands, including Baccarat, Hermès, Meissen, Royal Copenhagen, Swarovski, Villeroy & Boch and Wedgwood. However, it is the luxury Japanese brands that you’re here for – so make a beeline for Egg Shell (Arita porcelain made in Saga), Wajima (lacquerware), Imabari (towels), Hayakawa (silverware) and Kimoto (glassware).
One popular item is the Tajima glass which features Mt Fuji at its base (¥5,400). The cool part is, the mountain changes its colour based on the drink, so you’ll get a golden Fuji if you’re drinking whiskey, or a scarlet one if you’re having red wine. There you go, the perfect practical Tokyo souvenir.
The convenience store, or konbini, is a great haunt for those with a sweet tooth as the dessert aisles always feature a sumptuous variety. However, picking everything that you fancy may lead to unexpected shocks at the cash register. If you’re looking to binge on desserts without emptying your wallet, we have a solution for you.
Popular confectionery manufacturer Domremy has an outlet shop, which sells its all-time favourite and seasonal sweets for up to 30 percent off the original price. Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with them; the products are either stock overruns or are in less-than-perfect conditions presentation-wise – ie, a bit out of shape, with slightly bumped packaging etc. They taste just as good as those sold at regular stores.
The wide selection here is enough to induce a sugar high: think roll cake, pudding, fruity cup, baumkuchen (German spit cake), pound cake, coffee jelly and even traditional Japanese sweets such as dango (glutinous dumplings) and senbei (rice crackers). We highly recommend that you stop by early as popular items tend to sell out by late afternoon.
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