Harajuku’s infamous Takeshita-dōri is a shopping hotspot for Tokyo’s teenagers. The candy pink pedestrianized street is filled with vintage and costume shops, plus more filled-crepes than you ever imagined were possible. Unless you’re a fan of rainbow-coloured clothing, Takeshita is a place to browse rather than buy. Nearby Omote-Sando, however, is lined with designer boutiques and the dazzling Tokyu Plaza, whose entrance is a mind-boggling mirrored sculpture, offers trendier fashion stores too.
The back-streets of Harajuku are where you’ll find more independent boutiques and vintage shops that are a great for scouting out deals on second-hand silk kimonos. There are also a couple of fun cafes in the area including the Stationery Café, where you can purchase pens and paper and doodle as you dine, as well as the pop-up Barbie Café, whose pink cakes and coffees will leave you on a sugar high for days!
Ginza is Tokyo’s original shopping area where the first modern-style department stores opened in the 1920’s. Today its mix of glitzy fashion boutiques and heritage department stores give it the air of Fifth Avenue in New York or Oxford Street in London.
Mitsukoshi, one of Tokyo’s grandest department stores, has a basement food hall to rival Harrods. If you arrive just before doors open you’ll be in a for a courteous treat as uniformed staff pull back the giant doors and bow deeply to all customers for the first 10 minutes.
Shibuya is the neon-lit, constantly packed heart of Tokyo where you’ll find one of the busiest intersections in the world. Many tourists come to Shibuya just to look at the crossing (take the Hachiko exit at the station and head to the 2nd floor of Starbucks if you want an aerial view) but the shopping is great here too. The shops are just as big, brash and noisy as the streets and as they are open until late. Shibuya is a great place to come for souvenirs any time of day or night.
The Japanese love their stationery and homewares so if you’re looking for something unique for your home head to Loft or Tokyu Hands. Loft has a whole floor dedicated to notebooks, stickers and post-it notes with characters including sumo wrestlers on them. It also has a great travel section with handy items like packing cubes and leg hammocks! For a cheap and cheerful souvenir head to the Don Quixote bargain basement store (the shop sign is in Japanese so look up the address on Google beforehand). You’ll find great gimmicky gifts like Geisha girl face masks and Matcha Green Tea Kit Kats here.
Akihabara (otherwise known as Electric Town) is where you’ll find all of Tokyo’s geeks – especially on a weekend when they come to play in arcades and shop for Anime. Originally known for its confluence of gadget stores, in recent years it’s become just as well-known for Manga comics and Anime toys too. If you’re looking for any kind of camera equipment then this is the place to come. You can also find some rare English language versions of Japanese comics in Shosen Book Tower.
Another thing Akihabara is known for are Maid Cafes where costumed waitresses play games and treat you as a master for an hour. Expect to pay up to $20 just for entrance and a coffee here – photographs and food are extra! Mister Donut is a great place for a coffee and cake if you’d like something a bit cheaper and less cheesier.
To shop like a local hop on a train to Shimo-Kitazawa. This traditional neighbourhood is a rabbit’s warren of vintage shops, trendy cafes and local izakayas (Japanese pub-eateries).
The Shimokita Garage Department is a great place to start if you like vintage clothing and hand-made accessories. If you need a caffeine fix head to Frankie Melbourne Espresso who serve Allpress Aussie coffee. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sweet treats here too with whole cafes dedicated to pancakes, crepes and waffles – just look for the queues to work out which is best.
Ready to shop ’til you drop in Tokyo? Skyscanner Australia can compare flights, hotels, and car hire so you find the best deal for your trip. Which neighbourhood will you head to first?
About The Author
Jayne Gorman is a shopping and travel obsessed blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She blogs about stylish travels and social media at Girl Tweets World and can be found on all social media @jayneytravels.