I’m not a big store shopper, but there’s something compelling about shopping in Japan! It’s like no other place in the world. If you’re staying in the Tokyo area, there are many places to visit that is extremely easy to access by train. If you’re near the JR Yamanote line, you’re in luck! A lot of these places have direct access to that train line. Otherwise, it’s still pretty easy to get to these places.
Shibuya & Shinjuku
I visited this place a lot since I was in the market for some new clothes. If you’re a smaller build (such as myself), the clothes will fit you perfectly. In fact, I buy clothes in large in Japan. Stores usually sell clothes on the racks in either medium or large, it seems.
If you’re in the market for some really unique souvenirs for friends (or even some cool knick-knacks for yourself), make sure to visit a Tokyu Hands. Both Shibuya & Shinjuku have their own huge store, both a close to their stations. These places are extremely crowded & busy, but especially try to avoid the stations here during commute hours.
Akihabara & Ikebukuro
If you’re from the Bay Area & are familiar with Fry’s Electronics, you’ll love these areas. This is an awesome place to see some shiny new gadgets & a lot of anime-related stuff. Right next to the Akihabara station is a flea market-type place where private vendors sold their used wares:
To give you a hint into the type of clientele for this area, the male-to-female ratio here is about 50:1. Also an awesome place to go arcade hopping & to see some really cool video game arcades.
Beware of the second-hand smoke; I found a lot more smokers in this area than anywhere else in Japan.
If you have money to spend or are the serious window shopper, this is the place to be. It’s an upscale area with expensive department & flagship stores. Imagine New York’s Fifth Avenue, except cleaner & futuristic looking.
Famous in this area are the massive lines as long as a handful of city blocks that form in front of the Apple Store days before a new product release.
When we visited, there were many families with children walking around on the streets. Similar to the Ginza area, except a bit more youthful since Harajuku is a few steps away. We visited a mall in the area called Omotesando Hills, & the building was fully decorated in Disney stuff to celebrate their anniversary:
Many retail shops face the main road, but seem less pretentious than Ginza.
You’ve probably heard about this place through Gwen Stefani. This place is famous for high school/college kids who are experimenting in fashion, borderlining in costume territory:
Harajuku is mainly a really small side street with a lot of trendy clothes stores & a few dessert shops, densely populated with fashionable teens. If you want some really cheap clothes & want to dress up like a college student, this is the place to hit up. Also an awesome place to find some sweet winter coats at really good prices.
Venturing outside of Tokyo
If you can make the trip outside of the Tokyo area (highly recommended!), you can easily find some very traditional shops. For example, we rode on the Shinkansen (bullet train) for a few hours & found ourselves in Kurashiki & their famous Bikan Area, known for their 19th century warehouses & their storefronts:
From the window shopper, the souvenir collector, or the fashion-savvy, you’re bound to find some awesome finds!