Some blame it on ‘normcore’, the bland, anti-trend movement that channels fashion fatigue. But, far from being dull and unfashionable, sneakers have been reinvented in the past few years and are now a regular feature on the runways of major designer labels.
Tokyo is the region's streetwear capital and naturally its citizens are embracing the sneakers in every form and colour. Plus, with the amount of walking you'd be doing, sneakers are the sensible footwear for when you're out exploring the city.
So whether you're looking for big international brands, cult favourites, pre-loved trainers or even limited edition releases, this list will make your hunt for the perfect pair that much easier. Time to ditch the heels and find some new kicks in Tokyo’s best sneaker shops.
Styles Daikanyama has a well-curated selection of international best-sellers and some great limited-editions. The store prides itself in offering sneakers that are both fashionable and functional. You’re best to check their website frequently to get the drop dates of rare collaborations. For mini versions of your favourite sneakers, they’ve got a decent kids’ selection as well.
Visit A+S, otherwise known as Architecture and Sneakers, for a dose of Tokyo’s ever-evolving streetwear and sneaker culture. Just as the shop name suggests, what you’ll find here is a well-edit selection of sneakers inside an immaculately designed space run by the folks behind Japanese streetwear label Soph (whose store is located right below). Along with some of today’s most popular footwear models, mostly from Nike, you’ll also find sportswear basics like T-shirts and caps. They even have mini versions of selected shoe styles for children. The items here straddle a range of budgets, from Nike and Cole Haan to luxury brands like Balenciaga and Maison Margiela.
Sneaker select shop Atmos has finally opened their ladies-only store in Harajuku. You’ll find all your favourite brands in the overwhelmingly pink space, including the latest releases from Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Puma. There’s even a few domestic brands thrown into the mix. Besides the shoes, you’ll also find original clothing, jewellery and accessories to complete the look.
The food-centric district of Ameyoko might be the least likely place to find an amazing sneaker shop, but Mita Sneakers is just that. Skip the shop’s small street-level outpost and go to the main store, located on the second floor of the Ameyoko Center, instead. They have everything from Nike, Adidas and Puma, plus some under the radar Japanese brands like Patrick and Panther. They sometimes offer a pretty good selection of sale items as well.
Don’t be fooled by its size: Pistacchio Daikanyama may be tiny, but its modern interior is filled with a wide range of sneakers, from classic to the latest trends. Located mere steps from Daikanyama Station, the store’s blue exterior is reminiscent of a Parisian bakery, and the narrow wood and brick-walled boutique houses brands such as Nike, New Balance and Adidas. Lacoste, Patrick, Hunter rain boots and Sorel snow boots are also available in store or via their online shop. Follow the shop’s Instagram account for inspiration and to see shoes photographed in their natural habitat.
Los Angeles-born sneaker shop Undefeated has finally opened on Shibuya's Cat Street with two floors of streetwear goods including everything from the brand's cult worthy sneakers, clothing and accessories to a selection of rare finds and brand collabs. Stick to the first floor for all your sneaker needs, as the shop offers a good range of Undefeated x Nike styles as well as Undefeated x Adidas designs.
'Sneaker boutique' operators Atmos took a step into uncharted territory with this location, which combines rare sneakers with quality coffee. Teaming up with Streamer Coffee Company, Atmos have set up a 'sneaker gallery' in a Harajuku basement, decorating the space with a wall of shoes and selling mainly rare models and limited-edition items, plus the ultra-collectible Be@rbricks. As for the coffee, you can look forward to a full menu of joe, in addition to vanilla and chai latte smoothies, both available only here.
Opened in 2008 by a group of sporty-shoe aficionados, this light-filled shop houses limited-edition models and collections only released in Japan. If you’re in the market for a rare item, check out collaborations such as the bright Taro Yamada-covered Converse x Chinyuki, a popular Japanese anime from the ’90s, and tri-coloured trainers from French sportswear brand Le Coq Sportif with Tokyo-based Mita sneakers. While you’re there, stock up on shoe-care goods from Jason Markk, and ‘Sneaker Freaker’ magazine.
One of the many sneaker shops in Harajuku, Gettry consistently carries a hefty selection of sneakers including everything from Nike, New Balance and Asics, plus Reebok Classic and Adidas. Keep an eye out as you might miss this store – it’s hidden down in a semi-basement location off the busy streets. This shop is definitely a must-go for those looking for a new pair of sneaks.
Shoe geeks will love Billy’s, which always carries an exciting selection of sneakers for men and women as well as exclusive models and unique colourways from your favourite brands. Look forward to shopping through kicks from the likes of Nike, Vans, Saucony Originals and Converse, as well as other shoe options including Sperry boat shoes and Danner work boots. Clothing and other lifestyle goods are available too, so you can get all geared up before you leave.
Founded in 1949, Japan’s biggest shoe brand Onitsuka Tiger has streetfront stores in all the trendiest districts of Tokyo. Many of their sneakers feature a vintage vibe, and their iconic Mexico 66 model continues to be one of the most popular pairs around. Onitsuka Tiger’s sleek flagship store in Shibuya houses shoes for men, women and children. If you’re feeling flush, continue on next door for the brand’s premium made-in-Japanese collection.
As Tokyo's flagship Adidas Originals shop, this location has almost every Adidas model you can think of, with kicks for men, women and children spread over three floors. From collaborations with local designers and brands to countless limited-edition products, there’s an endless amount of merchandise for Adidas fanatics. Here you’ll also be able to cop the latest Adidas NMDs, which have been flying off shelves the past few seasons.
The revamped Nike Kicks Lounge is a chill space where you can shop through Nike’s most popular styles along with customisable T-shirts and other sportswear. The shop also offers a curated selection of sneakers from the entire Nike range, including Jordans, Nike Sportswear, Nike Running and much more. Head on up to the second floor and the screen printing station, where you can customise items like shirts, hoodies and sports bras. There’s even garment tailoring available, so everything you buy can be tailored perfectly to your fit.
Harajuku's Cat Street, known as the spiritual home of Tokyo's vibrant street fashion culture, houses this shop that's centred around Reebok's casual line, Reebok Classic. The range of more than 1,000 items is a throwback to styles from the '80s and '90s, so you're bound to recognise classic motifs and designs used in their sneakers and apparel from those eras. The ground floor is focused on iconic lines like the Insta Pump Fury and the Ventilator, while the second floor is where to find clothing – including the Tokyo-themed TYO Collection. They may be very retro, but these creations all still feel as fresh as ever.
Converse sneakers are everywhere in Japan, so we were surprised to hear that this 'studio' shop is actually the brand's first dedicated store in the country. Aiming to represent everything that goes into the 'Converse lifestyle', White Atelier boasts an extensive lineup, including some items sold only here. True sneakerheads will want to check out the basement, where you can create your very own All-Star design, tweaking it with text, patterns and colours before moving on to fine-tuning the laces and other accessories. As far as one-of-a-kind footwear goes, this spot is hard to beat – it even hosts occasional workshops with top creatives from both Japan and overseas.
This small collectors shop which recently re-opened in Harajuku stocks some of the rarest editions in the city: think Kanye West Yeezys, models from the Off-White Nike collab and unique colourways from Adidas all in mint condition, wrapped in plastic and awaiting you. As for the rest of the shop, you’ll find a mass of Nike styles including Air Jordans, Nike SBs and models from the Nike Running collection, as well as out-of-stock Converse and a few other rare finds.
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. The store’s Twitter timeline is a must-check, with daily updates on new arrivals. Skit mainly selects products on a pair-by-pair basis, so if you see something you like in your size, best make a quick decision. Men’s shoes are the focus here, but they do offer some women’s models as well.
Stocking a hefty selection of vintage sneakers, Soma imports their carefully curated selection directly from North America, as well as finds from here in Japan. Sifting through the store you'll mainly find rare, vintage kicks from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Converse. We highly recommend you check up on their blog every so often, as they update with the latest additions to their store.
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