There's no doubt Tokyo has some of the best shopping in the world, but one of the more unique aspects of the city's shopping scene are the great shops found in museums and galleries. Some of these stores even function as galleries themselves, with a curated selection of unique and often limited edition designer and artisanal products from across the country.
The best museum and gallery shops
Not your ordinary museum shop, Souvenir From Tokyo offers more than the usual postcards and coffee-table books (though it’s got plenty of those, too). The well-curated shop 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. Whether you’re looking for a memento or an offbeat present for a friend, this is a good place to start.
At the 8th floor museum in Shibuya Hikarie, each exhibition is devoted to showcasing a particular theme, while showcasing something from Japan's various prefectures. The retail space also sells a range of items highlighting the unique craftsmanship from each of the different prefectures, as well as travel guidebooks those areas.
Found on the National Museum's ground floor, this store carries a whopping 4,500 items – from paraphernalia related to ongoing exhibitions to original products inspired by the museum's permanent collection. You'll find bags, stationery, accessories, replicas of famed artworks... all superb souvenir/gift options. The art book section is almost like a small library; it stocks illustrated tomes recounting past exhibits alongside books published by the museum. On your way out, make sure to try one of the capsule toy vending machines that 'spits' out quirky collectibles.
This gallery is connected to the Roppongi Hills Art & Design Store and hosts a variety of contemporary art exhibitions, ranging from pieces by world-class artists like Yoshitomo Nara to ceramics and more experimental works. The shop carries fun souvenirs and memorabilia from artists like Takeshi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama so that you can take a little piece of art back home with you.
Located on the third floor of Omotesando's plush Gyre building, the shop stocks over 1,800 goods, many of them exclusive to MoMA (including some featuring art works from the museum's permanent collection). Assuming that you aren't on a particularly tight budget, it's a good place for getting unusual gifts, whether you want children's toys, fashion accessories or high-tech kitchenware. Japanese designers are well represented amongst the lineup, be it Isamu Noguchi's 1950s paper lamps or Yousuke Shimizu's exquisite bamboo bowls.
Located in Tokyo Midtown, this museum contains exhibits based on the theme of ‘Lifestyle Art’. It possesses the biggest collection of Japanese arts and crafts in Japan, and also stages tea ceremonies in the dedicated room on the sixth floor every second Thursday. While you're there, don't miss the gift shop which features a wide range of tableware, glasses, and cups with Edo Kiriko patterns.
Looking for something else?
Tokyo has a store or shopping district for almost anything you can imagine, whether it be professional-grade kitchen supplies or speciality coffee and tea purveyors dedicated to one particular craft or category. Here's our pick of the best places to deck out your kitchen and pantry in the latest gadget, or to gift your foodie friend with a local Japanese delicacy.
Pick up the perfect gift or indulge in a little self-pampering with the help of the beauty experts at these popular specialist shops across town. From makeup and skincare to bath and other beauty products, you're bound to find what you need at one of these shops.
Tokyo is one of the most stylish cities in the world: the city has its own fashion week as well as flagship stores of the world's trendiest brands. Another thing Tokyo does extremely well is the mix of high and low fashion. You'll find an impeccable range of vintage and consignment stores, alongside well-curated select shops that stock cult brands and products not commonly found anywhere else. Tokyo is also home to a select range of A-list Japanese designers who have taken over the international fashion scene – many of them have stores right here in Tokyo.
Tokyo has a suprising amount of toy stores where you can find everything from rare collectables and figurines to the latest games and popular characters in plush form. If you feel like being a kid again, stop by these toy shops that will keep both the little and big kids very happy and entertained.