Hey Big Spender!
If it exists, chances are you can buy it in Tokyo – the world’s ultimate retail therapy destination.
Don’t forget to wander down Takeashita Dori, which bustles with eccentric clothing and attention-grabbing accessories.
Famed for its love of the weird and wacky, it can be just as much fun browsing as it is buying in Tokyo. From exquisite traditional crafts to cutesy anime accessories, the city is a gold mine for one-of-a-kind finds. The Japanese are also known for their meticulous attention to detail so gifts are sure to impress, even if only for the flawless wrapping. Here’s our guide to the top shopping districts in town.
If you’re after brand names, look no further than fashion mecca Ginza, where every major department store has a presence. Among the most iconic is Mitsukoshi, which was founded in 1673 by the Mitsui family, originally selling kimonos. While the traditional national wear remains a hot ticket item today, haute couture additions now include Chanel and Christian Dior. Should fashion lovers require an interlude from their spree, the Gucci Café or Armani Restaurant provide respite most fitting.
A great place for gifts is Ginza Akebono Mochi Shop, a popular confectionary shop specialising in the traditional Japanese rice cake made of pounded glutinous rice with a variety of fillings, most commonly red bean paste. Many locals argue that theirs are the best in town, and after some very thorough research, it seems to be the case. The velvety texture of the delectable morsels is worlds apart from the usual store-bought variety, and the packaging pure perfection.
The heart of contemporary culture, Harajuku offers the best of both, albeit very different, worlds. For a peek into the nerve centre of teen culture, the Laforet mall is home to all things frilly, pink and doll-like. Don’t forget to wander down Takeashita Dori, which bustles with eccentric clothing and attention-grabbing accessories. If it is likely to excite parental disapproval, chances are you can find it here.
At the other end of the spectrum in the area are the tree-lined streets of Omotesando, with chic designer boutiques and cafes lining both sides of the elegant avenue. The Herzog and de Meuron-designed Prada store has become a landmark due to its striking six-storey crystal design composed of glass bubbles. Issey Miyake is also a must while you’re in the area, which showcases the cutting-edge Japanese designer’s original and limited-edition pieces that can only be found in Tokyo.
On the west side of Tokyo station, one of the busiest of its kind in the country, business district Marunouchi presents more tempting retail offerings. Browse the charming streets of Nakadori Avenue, which could easily be mistaken for New York’s Fifth Avenue, and watch impeccably attired executives go about their day. You can also delve into the depths of lively Tokyo Station, the place to go for froufrou desserts and curious knick-knacks.
At the end of the day, you’ll be eager to rest your weary feet, and there’s no better place to do so than at the splendid Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, which is a five-minute walk from the station. Top the productive shopping trip off with dinner at Nadaman, which is famed for its exquisite kaiseki creations, in addition to Tsukiji Market-fresh sushi and teppanyaki. Each course, progressively more elaborate than the previous, is so intricately crafted that it is almost heartbreaking to eat, although one bite of the beef sirloin quickly changes that.
Save the best for last with a treatment at CHI, The Spa, where the Kisetsu Rituals are a specialty. Begin with a Kisetsu bath, which uses fresh, seasonal ingredients to capture the essence of the season – in this case, matcha powder – akin to sitting in giant cup of tea complete with an oversized tea bag. The quintessential Japanese ingredient is also used in the extremely relaxing body scrub. The massage uses seasonal oils believed to improve metabolism and enhance skin tone, but most importantly, provide a blissful send-off into dreamland. With any luck, you’ll be in top shape to hit the shops again tomorrow.
Tokyo Shopping Tips
- The back streets of Asakusa have the best quality trinkets
- For rare books, check out Jimbōchō
- The two malls in entertainment hotspot Odaiba are worth a visit
- For souvenirs, Oriental Bazaar is a great one-stop option
- If Akhibara is too far to trek for electronics, Isetan department store is the next best option