Best zakka shops in Tokyo

The Japanese concept of zakka could be the solution to a simpler, happier lifestyle. Here's where to shop for zakka items in Tokyo. By Vivian Morelli

Check&Stripe
1/3
Norwegian Icons
2/3
うぐいす Uguisu
3/3
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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This new year, if you’re looking to buy a more fulfilling lifestyle off the shelf, you might want learn about the word ‘zakka’. Zakka is part of a wider Japanese ideology in which mundane, everyday objects are celebrated for their beauty and ability to bring you joy. So, what’s it all about?

Zakka: A crash course
The Japanese word zakka doesn’t really have an English equivalent. It literally means ‘miscellaneous things’ or ‘sundries’, or, to put it simply, things that cannot be categorised.

Zakka can encompass a vast range of items. They are objects to improve your home, your life or your appearance, and can include practical everyday items, things that you may occasionally use, and stuff that you didn’t even know existed or think you needed. They spruce up your décor and add an element of joy to the mundane.

Zakka can be a glass you drink water from, a coffee mug, a keychain, stationery or even less glamorous items such as a can opener or vegetable peeler. The only difference is, they were carefully hand-picked and they bring you a certain happiness. They are everyday items, elevated.

How did it start?
About half a century ago, the term zakka referred to practical household items like buckets and brooms, but since then it has become a lifestyle. The trend peaked in the early 2000s, but it doesn’t seem to have gone away. In many ways, zakka represents the attention to detail so highly prized in Japan. Here, it’s just a way of life.

Zakka is about finding treasures and objects that express your personality. They’re not necessarily antique, vintage or even expensive. They can be cute, they can be twee, they can be kitsch. Zakka can be colourful and can be monochromatic, à la Muji.

Zakka-ya, the type of shop that sells zakka, dot every neighbourhood in Japan, and sometimes focus on apparel or home design, or even both. We rounded up a few of our favourites. Ready to shop?

Simple pleasures

Shopping

Today's Special Jiyugaoka

icon-location-pin Jiyugaoka

Although Today’s Special has several locations (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Hibiya, and even Kyoto and Kobe), the stylish Jiyugaoka branch is our favourite. The theme of the store is ‘Food and Living DIY’, and walking into the shop really does feel like stepping into your dream kitchen, complete with a long dining table and an abundance of herbs and plants. Today’s Special is filled with local and imported gourmet food, kitchenware, stationery and skincare – don’t forget to check out the seasonal corner as well...

Shopping, Home decor

Norwegian Icons

icon-location-pin Shibuya

This concept store stands just a few doors down from its well- loved cousin, the Norwegian café Fuglen. It was actually Fuglen that founded the Norwegian Icons design exhibition, dedicated to promoting the country’s contemporary designers in different cities around the world including London, Milan and New York. It settled in Tokyo and became a showroom in the trendy Tomigaya area. In the showroom, reproduction vintage furniture sits side-by- side with new productions from emerging Norwegian designers – similar to the fixtures at the gorgeous Fuglen...

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Shopping

Check & Stripe

icon-location-pin Jiyugaoka

A short walk from Jiyugaoka Station, Check & Stripe focuses on original textiles and household goods. Its fabrics are mostly made from natural materials like linen and cotton, and are sturdy enough to be used every day. Check & Stripe’s philosophy is to provide things that are simple but of high quality. Its aesthetic revolves around neutral, muted tones and simple prints, giving everything a distinctly Scandinavian vibe...

Shopping, Corner shops

Uguisu

icon-location-pin Azabu-Juban

Good news for zakka lovers around the world: Uguisu has an extensive online store and ships worldwide. The online store makes it easy to find the perfect gift (or to stay up all night browsing products), but nothing beats a visit to the flagship Uguisu Little Shoppe, a converted apartment in a quaint corner of the Azabu/Roppongi district. The goods at Uguisu are mainly designed or made in Japan by traditional artisans, independent craftsmen and small family-run businesses...

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More to explore

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