Tokyo shopping has it all: high-end and offbeat fashion, traditional crafts, vintage wares, all manner of only-in-Japan souvenirs, and that gadget you didn’t know existed but now desperately want. Whether you prefer department-store browsing or rummaging for secondhand treasures, there’s a Tokyo neighbourhood to meet your shopping needs.
Ginza is the affluent shopping district in Tokyo, home to the city’s posh boutiques and gleaming department stores, such as the classic Mitsukoshi and avant-garde Dover Street Market Ginza. But tucked in between some of the more imposing facades are simpler pleasures, like the fine crafts at Takumi, and the shelves full of ingenious toys at Hakuhinkan. Stationery fiends shouldn’t miss the nine floors of supplies at Itōya. Shopping options in this neighbourhood reflect the breadth and depth of the city’s consumer culture, which is equal parts high-fashion glitz and down-to-earth dedication to craft.
Now decidedly relaxed, Asakusa was once the heart of Edo’s low city, home to artisans, merchants and prostitutes. Its small lanes and winding alleyways are still full of surprises, including the vintage curios at Tokyo Hotarudo and the beautiful noren (shopfront curtains) for sale at Bengara. For straight gift shopping, Nakamise-dori (leading up to temple Sensō-ji) is not bad for souvenir trinkets – try the back streets for better-quality stuff. The long stretch of Kappabashi-dori also yields uniquely Japanese curiosities in its little culinary-supply shops.
A few stops east of Shinjuku, the buildings descend to a more human scale. A stroll up the Kagurazaka slope from Iidabashi Station will turn up several shops selling geta (traditional wooden sandals) and drawstring purses made from lavish kimono fabric – check out the hand-dyed textiles at Kikuli, and Sada’s handmade accessories. Elsewhere in the area, wedged in unexpected places between pharmacies, groceries and pachinko (vertical pinball-game) parlours, are shops carrying goods like puppets from around the world, and Japanese sweets.
Though Roppongi is traditionally known for wild bars and pick-up joints, it’s also home to a few of the city’s most interesting and idiosyncratic shops and showrooms, and the shopping, dining, art and entertainment complexes of Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown and Toranomon Hills. Of special interest in Roppongi are the Axis Design collection of galleries and shops, showcasing contemporary interior design; and Japan Sword, the place to come for your samurai weaponry.
5. Daikanyama & Naka-Meguro
Near Ebisu, Daikanyama is a residential enclave of cafes and boutiques, with fashion and accessories specialists such as Harcoza and Okura. Bibliophiles should head to Daikanyama T-Site. Naka-Meguro, a stroll away, is Daikanyama’s more bohemian neighbour and is home to secondhand stores and hidden lounge bars. Vase, with its vintage pieces, is among the shopping highlights here.