Tokyo is a shopper's paradise. The city has something for everyone, from discount stores and outlet malls to artisanal tableware and beauty products. It even has a neighbourhood dedicated to home cooks and professional chefs.
And if you're on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind gift or souvenir that's unique to you, you're in luck, too – because Tokyo sure loves to customise. Whether it be a pair of shoes, a denim jacket, a fragrance or even a notebook, you'll find specialists in Tokyo offering complete personalisation so you can create and design every minute detail to your liking. From start to finish you'll have a say in the entire conception of your product.
Don't know where to start? Here are five shops where you can enjoy a bespoke shopping experience and customise something to commemorate your travel in Tokyo.
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One of a kind
Good denim is an investment and you can make it more worthwhile by creating your bespoke pair of jeans from scratch. The new Levi’s flflagship store on Cat Street in Harajuku offffers the Lot No. 1 service; the fifirst of its kind in Asia, it allows denim hounds to create or customise a pair of jeans with the help of in-house expert tailor Mio Yamamoto. The entire process from start to fifinish takes about a month.
For those short on time, you can still personalise your denim at the third-floor Tailor Shop, adding features like embroidery, distressing, panelling, studs, buttons and patches from as little as ¥500. Moreover, you can also print various patterns and designs on teh T-shirts bought in-store – so you can get a complete, one-of-a-kind outfit.
A gem of a store in old town Kuramae, Kakimori is best known for its custom notebooks (around ¥1,000 to ¥3,500). The store has got its system down to a tee, with straightforward English and Japanese instructions on how to build your dream journal. Make your way through the shelves to pick every component of your notebook from the paper to the cover, the closure and even the spine. Love doodling? Stick to the blank paper options. More of a writer? Kakimori has lots of lined paper and even calendar-style sheets to fill your book.
While you wait for your finished notebook – from 20 minutes to an hour – walk over to the nearby sister store, Inkstand by Kakimori, and pair your new journal with a pen and custom ink colours.
Visit any Japanese shrine and you’ll see plenty of stickers and placards posted around the vicinity. These senjafuda, paper or wooden tags with names of worshippers etched or printed on them, also make for great souvenirs. At Stock +, you can have your name engraved on a wooden sign, which is then attached to a strap or string to create a unique keychain or necklace.
Don’t have a Japanese name? No worries; the staff can translate your name into kanji characters bestowed with good fortune. You are also able to choose the type of wood as well as the design featured on the front and back of the tag. Bonji sanskrit characters can also be added for good luck, and are determined by your Chinese zodiac animal.
A senjafuda starts at ¥1,100 and is available in various sizes; the extra large version is perfect as a personalised luggage tag. While you’re there, take advantage of the photo corner, where you can pose in colourful yukata and happi jackets. This service is free with any senjafuda purchase.
A classic pair of Converse is a fashion staple, but did you know you can also personalise your own kicks with the brand? Enter this Converse store, where you can deck out a pair with various designs and patterns created by popular artists, as well as add on personal touches such as charms and coloured laces – all from ¥9,000 (price includes the shoes).
The process is straightforward. First, try on a sample pair to determine your size and pick either an all-white high- or low-top All Star, which is exclusive to the White Atelier. The Kichijoji shop also offers customisation for toddlers’ and children’s shoes. Next, flip through the design book and pick out your favourite pattern. Converse regularly changes the options to showcase different artists, but there are also simpler typography options (English alphabets, katakana and numbers).
The entire process takes about an hour and a half, so you’ll have your unique pair on the same day. How easy is that?
This unique perfumery offers scents for your home. You’ll find everything from air fresheners to candles, including DIY sessions for shoppers looking to create their own fabric mist (¥4,500). To participate, simply make a reservation via its website.
During the session you’ll sniff around 25 seasonal fragrances – the scents are inspired by surprisingly specific moods and settings, such as ‘a casual night in Los Angeles’ or ‘a country road in Hawaii’, as well as other fruity and floral aromas. Once you’ve decided on your fragrance of choice, you’ll also need to select a container and cap before mixing and bottling your scent, complete with a custom card and label. Other items in the shop can also be affixed to the label, making for a perfect personalised gift.
More shopping in Tokyo
From fashion and beauty products to toys, traditional crafts and kitchen ware, find your perfect Japanese souvenirs here
Kappabashi Kitchen Town has all your cooking needs, from Japanese knives and crockery to plastic food models and more
Looking for Japanese whisky, craft gin or premium sake to bring home as souvenir? These liquor shops in Tokyo have them all
The outlet malls and shops in and around Tokyo don’t just offer discounted designer fashion – there are gourmet treats, home décor and tableware, too
The depachika food halls at the city’s many department stores carry a plethora of delicious finds with everything from ready-to-eat food to beautifully packaged gifts