The main shopping areas in Tokyo are: stylish Ginza, with its ritzy department stores, designer boutiques and chic galleries; young, trendy Shibuya for clothes, CDs and accessories; the ‘youth mecca’ of Harajuku for teenage fashions and kitsch; Akihabara for a vast selection of cut-price electronic goods and computers; and vibrant Shinjuku, known for its camera shops, both new and second hand. Odaiba Mall is situated on the Tokyo Rainbow Town development in Tokyo Bay, also known as Odaiba.
When buying electrical goods, visitors should remember that Japan runs on 100 volts AC, so an adaptor and transformer will be required unless the items have a dual-voltage switch. In addition, many instruction books are available only in Japanese. Laox, 1-15-3- Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, has English-speaking staff on hand to assist.
Antique/flea markets are held every Sunday - on the first and fourth Sundays of the month at Harajuku’s Togo Shrine, on the second Sunday of the month at Nogi Shrine in Nogizaka and most Sundays at Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku. Starting before dawn, many stalls pack up by early afternoon. These markets are great places for browsing and good buys include old silk kimonos, Japanese dolls, ceramics and lacquer. A smile and a polite request will often yield a discount.
For guaranteed low-price Japanese gifts to pack in your suitcase, Oriental Bazaar, 5-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuyaku, is the perfect Omotesando store. From china to yukatas (a simple Japanese robe worn by both men and women), there is something for every budget. Kitsch is big business here, and if you are after something cute and cuddly, Kiddyland, 6-19-19 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, will keep you happy.
For more gift ideas under one roof Tokyu Hands stores and Three Minutes Happiness, 3-5 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, are both unique Japanese institutions where homeware and quirky Japanese gadgets are piled high and sold cheap. But the best spot for a guaranteed bargain are the ¥100 shops scattered far and wide throughout Tokyo. With every single item costing ¥100 visitors never leave empty handed.
A visit to the basement food hall of a major department store is a must, if only to marvel at the exquisite presentation of the extraordinary selection of foodstuffs. Bakeries are currently the hottest food shops in the city, with delicious smells wafting from classy patisseries all over the Ginza, Marunouchi and Omotesando areas. At the other end of the commercial spectrum, lively Ameyoko Market, located under the railway tracks just south of Ueno Park, retains echoes of its origins as Tokyo’s post-war black market, with raucous vendors, cheap prices and crowds of shoppers. The market is open during standard shopping hours.
Shops are mostly open daily 1000-1900/2000, with department stores closed one weekday a week. A consumption tax of 5% is added to the price of all goods. Credit cards are slowly becoming more widely accepted, but most transactions are still done in cash, so ensure you carry enough not to get caught out.
An excellent shop for beautifully designed lacquerware souvenirs
Hillside Terrace G Block, 18-12 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku
Tel: +81 3 3464 5541
Open: Mon.-Sat. 10:30-7, Sun. 10:30-6:30
The place to go for contemporary elegant Japanese fashion
3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tel: +81 3 3567 1211
Open: Sat.-Thurs. 10-8:30, Fri. 10-9:30
Fantastic selection of traditional Japanese crafts and antiques. English-speaking staff.
6-1-10 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku
Tel: +813 3400 2777
Open: Wed.-Mon. 11-6; closed 3rd Mon. Of every month.
Only in Tokyo…
Colourful and delicate hand-made dolls
2-3-12 Taito-Higashi, Taito-ku
Tel: +81 3 3834 3501
Open: Sun.-Fri. 10-6
The place to go for antique and reproduction samurai swords.
3-8-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku
Tel: +81 3 3434 4321
Open: Weekdays 9:30-6, Sat. 9:30-5
Finely crafted towels from master textile creator Keiji Kawakami
2-2-15 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Tel: +81 3 3841 2283
Open: Fri.-Wed. 10-6
Shinjuku Watch Kan
Watch emporium sprawling across seven stories
3-29-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tel: +81 3 3226 6000
Open: Daily 10-9
One of Japan’s finest jewelry stores, founded 1892.
1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tel: +81 3 5561 0491
Open: Daily 10:30-7
Tasaki Pearl Gallery
1-3-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tel: +81 3 5561 8880
Open: Daily 9-6
A 5% consumption tax is included in the price of marked goods, but all major department stores in Tokyo will refund the tax to foreign visitors if total purchases amount to more than ¥10,001 ($95) on that day. Exemptions include food, beverages, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, film, and batteries. When you've completed your shopping, take the purchased goods and receipts to the tax refund counter in the store. There are forms to fill out (you will need your passport). Upon completion, a record of your purchase is placed on the visa page of your passport and you are given the tax refund on the spot. When you leave Japan, make sure you have your purchases with you (pack them in your carry-on); you may be asked by Customs to show them.
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