The National Art Center's shop stocks a lot more than the usual postcards and coffee table books (though it's got plenty of those, too). Souvenir From Tokyo lives up to its name with a diverse selection of Japanese-style accessories, clothes, crockery and pieces by feted local designers like Mina Perhonen and Anrealage.
Arguably the coolest konbini (convenience store) in Tokyo, Trunk Hotel’s eponymous store is dedicated to stocking locally made items from fashion and food to bath and beauty products. For ideas on what to get, just refer to the posters, which highlight selected goods along with explanations of their provenance. Unlikely though it seems, the concrete jungle of Shibuya actually produces its own honey – you can purchase a jar here and sample it in the store’s soft-serve. Fashion hounds looking for local threads should pick up the t-shirts (or baby clothes) made from recycled cotton and the waterproof shoes made in collaboration with Japanese label Moonstar.
Nippon-ichi’s interior design is a contemporary take on classic Japanese elements. The wooden displays and furniture design are inspired by the Nihonbashi of the Edo period (1603-1868). Different sceneries of that time are featured throughout the indigo and white noren curtains. Here you can not only buy Tokyo-exclusive souvenirs but also gifts from across the country, which are thoughtfully categorised by prefectures. The little area sectioned off with glass walls is also worth checking out for its monthly-changing variety of goods from a specific city or region in Japan.
This four-storey mall in Asakusa offers a large variety of food and lifestyle goods from all 47prefectures. The first floor supermarket boasts a diverse selection of food and drink: think soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), senbei (rice crackers), sake and much more. At the adjoining food market you’ll find speciality shops selling natural honey from Ehime, aromatic coffee from Tottori and smoked seafood from Tokushima prefecture. For lifestyle goods and homeware, head upstairs to Hagi no Kaze, where the cheerful bags are made from Yamaguchi prefecture’s traditional fishermen flags (¥4,320), or to Osaji for organic cosmetics from Gunma prefecture.
Japan takes the 'dollar store' or 'pound store' concept to new heights – previous expectations of what can be bought on the cheap are blown out of the water. 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 as well as Japanese, while some of the staff can also speak English.
Probably the best-known gift shop in Tokyo, this is a useful one-stop outlet for almost everything: dolls, china, kimonos, yukata, woodblock prints, furniture, antiques and books on Japan. Ideal for stocking up on presents and souvenirs in one easy trip, but it can be a little kitschy. Prices are generally moderate, and staff speak good English.
From stationery to toilet-seat covers, Tokyu Hands has everything you actually need and everything you never knew you needed. The Shibuya outpost is the largest household and novelty goods store in Tokyo. Packed to the rafters with knick knacks and items from hardware to board games, the store's split-level floors gives it tons of space yet also means it can be difficult to find your way around. Particularly interesting is the party supplies section, which gives a unique glimpse into the Japanese sense of humour. The character goods, stationery, kitchen, and health and beauty floors are particularly enticing for those looking to zero in on potential souvenirs.
Much like its competitor, Tokyu Hands, Loft offers anything you can imagine for the home, kitchen, office, car or even plane, with a lot more focus on design (although the two stores often have similar products). Loft stocks an extensive array of cartoon character items such as mobile phone straps, stationery and keychains along with modern takes on traditional Japanese products like fans, socks, tenugui (handkerchiefs), tea and coffee paraphernalia, glass ware and ceramics, and more. You'll also find Japanese innovations such as the staple-less stapler and adourless nail polish; if they're sold out, loop back to Tokyu Hands.
Another 'everything store', but decidedly downmarket from Tokyu Hands and Loft, Don Quijote's 'pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap' philosophy is taken to the extreme. The aisles and shelves are cluttered, disorganised and disorientating, but you’ll find everything from snacks and beauty products to washing machines. There’s even a curtained-off 'adults only' section for risque tastes. With this Shinjuku outpost staying open 24 hours, there's certainly more than enough opportunity to check it out if you so please.
Traditional crafts & stationery
Putting a quirky twist on traditional Japanese crafts, Blue & White has been delighting customers with its original handiwork and unique crafts for over 40 years. Loyal patrons visit the Azabu-Juban shop for its vibrant tenugui hand towels, a well curated selection of ceramics and fashionable accessories including scarves and bags. However, we are most enthralled by the artisanal indigo- dyed products in a variety of prints, which lend the shop its name.
Also known as ‘Artisan Street’, this unique retail space is set under the entire 2.54km stretch (hence its unusual moniker) of the JR railway tracks between Okachimachi and Akihabara stations. Here you’ll find 50-plus shops and cafés, all featuring made-in-Japan items or local craftsmen and artisans selling their wares. Head to Blue Trick for premium Japanese denim from Okayama, go to Nakazawa Kaban for leather bags, or customise your umbrella from 77 colour options at Tokyo Noble. Better still, some of the stores here offer workshops so you can try a little DIY crafting.
This home and lifestyle shop in Yanaka offers a mix of beautifully crafted Japanese goods that you never knew you needed. You can hardly miss the store if you’re passing by – the storefront is overflowing with hand-woven baskets of every shape, size and colour. A daily goods supplier since 1945, Matsunoya sells a miscellany of items ranging from brooms, dustpans, kitchen utensils, cutlery and homeware to leather goods and jewellery.
If you just can’t get enough of stationery, this store is your happy place. Ginza Itoya sells everything from regular stationery and Japanese calligraphy goods to fancy fountain pens, designer paper, art tools and more. The first eight floors are reserved for shopping and are divided by function (home, desk, etc), while the higher floors host a business lounge and an urban vegetable farm with salad leaves grown in hydroponic bins (the greens are then used in the dishes served in the café on the 12th floor).
Great for souvenir shopping, Bingoya offers unpretentious but high-quality traditional crafts made in Japan including pottery, fabric, lacquerware, glassware, dolls and folk art. Their selection of indigo-dyed clothing and accessories is very good too, and staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have. If you're looking for some non-kitsch souvenirs to bring home, head here.
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, sells incense alongside a selection of seasonal gift cards and lots of small, moderately priced items (boxes, notebooks, picture frames) made from colourful washi. The interior and setup may be decidedly old-fashioned, but don't be deterred: their items are so well-made that you won't walk out with a gift that feels outdated.
Hara Shobo is an ukiyo-e lover's dream: they stock arguably one of the city's best collections of woodblock prints from the Edo and Meiji eras, while also offering new prints. The company issues a catalogue, 'Edo Geijitsu' (‘Edo Art’), at least twice a year, depending on how many prints they manage to amass. The staff speak good English, and with prices going from the extremely cheap (¥300 for a reprint) to the astronomical (upwards of ¥2,000,000), you'll be sure to find something to suit your taste and budget. As one of the staff members put it: 'Seeing ukiyo-e here is probably more fun than in a museum, because you actually get to touch them too.'
Fashion & pop culture
The Beams Japan flagship in Shinjuku spreads out over a total of six floors where you'll find a dizzying collection of clothing, crafts and art, plus a gallery hosting an eclectic array of events and exhibitions, as well as a restaurant in the basement. Everything here is Japan-branded – perfect if you're looking for a local yet non-kitsch souvenir, and you'll find most of them on the ground floor, from lucky cat figurines to cool Japanese-design mugs and t-shirts.
Walk down the cathedral-like shotengai (shopping arcade) 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 secondhand manga; branches of Fujiya Avic, the secondhand CD/DVD/anime store offering rarities and bootlegs; and a large number of shops selling collectible action figures. Most of the geek action is found on the second and third floors, though it's worth exploring the entire building to see what you find – there's even a shop selling original manga and anime sketches tucked away on the fourth floor.
You might walk right past it if you didn't know what treasures lie in the depths: Oedo Kazuko is a swanky shop located in an unassuming basement along Omotesando. If you’re looking for a pretty and vivid kimono with traditional prints, this is the place to be, while their small patches of kimono fabrics are quite popular too. There's also a large range of hair accessories and children’s kimono displayed throughout the funkily decorated store, so you’ll definitely be able to find something to suit your taste and needs here, with prices varying depending on the quality and formality of the pieces.
Derived from 'purinto kurabu' ('print club'), purikura are a phenomena in themselves: photobooth prints where you are made to look like an infinitely cuter, almost Japanese pop idol-esque version of yourself. You'll find these booths at most large arcades, where one set of photos generally goes for ¥300-¥500, but if you really want to experience the full range, head to Shibuya's Purikura no Mecca – this spot has an extensive variety of these machines. Note that many places may not accept men-only groups or solo males due to the amount of (underaged) young women who frequent purikura.
Kiddy Land toy store is a Tokyo institution. The main Harajuku shop is a noisy, heaving maze of mascots, dolls, cuddly toys, furry toys, action figures, Disney, Kitty, Doraemon, Godzilla and more. This epicentre of cuteness is a favourite shopping spot for celebrities passing through Tokyo.
Kitchenware & food
Kagurazaka’s trendy La Kagu ‘warehouse’ welcomes the newly opened Akomeya flagship store, offering shoppers some of Japan’s most delicious and beautiful goods – especially for your kitchen. Above all, Akomeya is a rice speciality shop and so it offers an almost overwhelming range of grains which can be purchased by weight. Avoiding carbs? Then skip to the packaged goods section offering everything from candies, miso pastes and seasonings to gourmet preserves and soup stocks. The front of the store also showcases a beautiful selection of ceramics and Japanese kitchenware, all of which are labelled with a short description of the artisan and also place of origin.
Shop for a range of well-designed lifestyle essentials at Kiya Shop. Featuring classic Japanese aesthetics, this sleek store offers gorgeous goods for your home and daily life, with everything from state-of-the-art Japanese knives and lacquer bento boxes to cooking spatulas and artfully-designed sukiyaki pots. Whether you’re looking for a souvenir from your Tokyo trip or a gift for someone back home, these items are not only beautiful but also actually useful.
If you’re visiting Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple and Nakamise, take a short detour to Kappabashi, a wholesale shopping district devoted to kitchenware. You’ll find low-cost crockery, rice cookers, knives, grills, tableware and more – everything you need to set up a restaurant, including the realistic plastic food models often found in restaurant windows. Few things are more Japanese than an entire store of plastic food models, and Maiduru is an authentic stop for food fakes. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel peckish – the mock meals are uncannily realistic.
After 21 years selling top-grade pottery in chic Minami-Aoyama, Kaede has firmly established itself as an essential destination for shoppers with an eye for quality. Its products range from lacquerware and ceramics to glassware, and come courtesy of about 40 artists. Each regular contributor is asked to hold a solo exhibition at the store once every two years; these feature displays often include unique creations not found in the regular selection.
Kit out your kitchen with every kind of high-quality Japanese knife you'll ever need at this blade specialist that's been operating since 1792. They are always experimenting with new technology and materials, so your knives will be, quite literally, cutting edge.
Chopsticks make affordable, portable and beautiful souvenirs or gifts. Make a beeline for this speciality shop – it may be small in size, but its amazing, eclectic collection will keep you busy browsing for ages. The shop houses over 2,500 sets of chopsticks and accessories such as chopstick rests to go along with your tableware.
Cosmetics & skincare
Located at a corner directly across from the popular Shinjuku mall Lumine Est (Shinjuku Station East Exit), Ainz & Tulpe is brimming with an extensive array of beauty and skincare products across its three levels. The ground floor stocks Japanese and international makeup brands (Excel, Rimmel London, Canmake, Visée etc), fragrances, adorable hair accessories, loungewear as well as special seasonal beauty and skincare products.
Tucked away in the back streets of Aoyama, Three Aoyama is so much more than just a beauty store. The entire complex is also home to a luxurious spa and a health-conscious restaurant called Revive Kitchen, where you can grab gluten-free sweets, vegetarian lunch plates and cold-pressed juices. Three is well loved for its minimal packaging design, and the beauty range covers everything you’ll ever need, from skincare and makeup to nail polish and hair styling products.
Occupying a prime spot near the Ao Omotesando complex, Beauty Library unfortunately doesn't stock any books on how to brush up your appearance – it's a cosmetics shop that also features a café. Organic creams, lotions and the like line the shelves, featuring international brands such as Shigeta and Weleda as well as domestic ones, including Chant a charm, Naturaglace, Hana Organic and Biolab. The eatery, on the other hand, serves up organic grub like 'New York-style' salads, smoothies and herb tea. Treats for both the skin and the taste buds, in other words.
Located in the glitzy Ginza Six department store, this elegant bottle shop sells a wide range of sake, shochu, beer, spirits as well as domestic and international wine. On any given day, Imadeya Ginza will stock around 400 to 500 types of sake, plus up to 500 varieties of other liquors. Aside from stocking the essentials, Imadeya Ginza is the place to go looking for rare, boutique booze. Think shochu aged for 11 years, with a taste that errs on the side of whiskey; vodka made from rice; sparkling sake; and gin from Hiroshima infused with aromas of Japanese cypress, local oyster shells and cherry blossoms. The neatly organised refrigerators and shelves have English labels, and there are knowledgeable English-speaking staff on hand to assist you.
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. If you’re thinking of splurging on a vintage bottle, the staff may let you try before you buy: a ‘tasting cup’ can be had for ¥100-¥700.
Whether you’re looking to buy sake to take home or sit in and drink boutique sake by the glass, Nihonbashi Hasegawa Saketen has you covered. Enter the L-shaped store and on your left you’ll find a long line of glowing refrigerators brimming with sake from across Japan.
The Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center disseminates an abundance of information about Japanese alcohol. The centre offers a staggering 70 types of sake, 30 varieties of shochu and awamori, and ten other beverage options like umeshu and amazake, which change on a monthly basis and are available for purchase. Aside from the drinks, the centre also offers a wide selection of sake cups, which range in design and size. They make beautiful souvenirs, or a great addition to your bar collection.
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