Shopping in Tokyo
Travel guides give all the info you need about shopping in Tokyo ‘on the beaten track’. Well-known shops, big malls; they are mentioned in every guide book, magazine and often even indicated on tourist maps. Easy peasy.
Some of them, like Tokyu Hands, are also in my list of 10 favourite shops in Tokyo. The majority of my favourites though, you will not find in any guidebook. They are off the beaten path and off the grid. To be honest; I ran into most of them by accident during my explorations of Tokyo.
My 10 favourite shops in Tokyo
Here they are:
I ran into this little shop when walking through the narrow streets of Koenji. My attention was drawn by the Blythe dolls in the window. Are you familiar with Blythe dolls? They are a phenomena, like Barbies used to be in their first years on the market. They originate from Japan and are highly collectable. Blythe dolls are often customized to the max. I have seen dolls with fantastic tattoos (sketched with pen, of course), done by tattoo artists on commission. I have seen Blythe dolls with their (movable) eyelids turned into art. Fascinating.
Out of curiosity I went in and boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The small store was filled to the brim with stuff. Vintage toys, beads, collectibles, dolls, lace, buttons and loads of other knick knacks. I felt like a kid in a candy store. And all those glass jars filled with… with…stuff, treasures; screaming: “Look closer! Find out what’s inside me! Discover!”.
I had already over-asked Frits’ patience by going through all 7 floors of Tokyo Hands, meter by meter;-). What I really wanted now was to go through all these jars and see what was in them, but I did not want to bore him -again-, so I restrained myself:-(.
The tiny yellow boy wanted to go home with me badly, but -again- I restrained myself. No need to feel sorry for me, though. I bought small thingies all the time everywhere;-).
Pink elephant, blue rabbit…yes, please.
Is this heaven? Hahaha…
Customized Blythe dolls. I was tempted to get one, but had no idea of the prices at the time. In hindsight they were cheap. Ah well, maybe another time…
Look at the little animal shawls on the two dolls on the left. So cute!
- Shimokita Garage DepartmentThis was one of the first shops we ran into after exiting the metro station. I was -ofcourse!- taken by the cool shutter graffiti.
Then we looked inside. This big garage space is filled with small booths. Apparently artisans can rent a booth here to sell their stuff. Vintage clothes, antiques, jewelry. All sorts of things.
Inside one of the booths. Cute, right? Lovely to shop around in Shimokita Garage Department! Don’t come before 12, otherwise many of the booths are still closed.
So you are in Japan and you put a shop on your list that sells products from Mexico and Peru? Yes, that’s exactly what I did!
I can’t help it; I’m just a sucker for Mexican handicrafts. Retablos, milagros, Day of the Dead-items, metal painted ornaments; gimme gimme gimme!
They sell the cutest cigarette packages! Talking only about the packaging, ofcourse.
Why buy Mexican art and souvenirs in Tokyo? Well, I don’t come across a lot of shops that sell retablos and Mexican metal ornaments. And if I do, their prices are crazy. In Kalimantan, Tokyo, prices were very reasonable. Who said Tokyo is expensive?;-)
- 100 Yen Shops
You find 100 yen shops all over Tokyo. Nowadays many countries have these kind of shops: 1 euro store, 2 dollar stores and in Japan: 100 yen stores. I loooove these stores. They have so much cheap things. You do have to be careful though. Not everything is cheaper than in other shops. While shopping there one tends to forget that some items actually cost less than a euro, a dollar or 100 yen e.g. in a drugstore. Or the quantity inside the packaging is less than in a drugstore. So stay aware which items are a bargain and which are not.
- Tokyu Hands
You find Tokyu Hands in multiple locations in Tokyo. This chain is so famous, that it is indicated on most tourist maps. It started out as a creative shop, like for art supplies and for crafting. But it has evolved into a much wider concept, hence the subtitle: “creative life store”. They have about everything, from make-up to stationery and from DIY tools to socks.
Luckily I did not go to Tokyo especially for Tokyu Hands, because two days after my return to Singapore, I discovered that Singapore just got it’s first Tokyo Hands, a two-minute walk from our house;-).
- Usagi Pour Toi
I knew there was a place in Tokyo where they sell merchandise from French artist Natalie Lete. I adore her work! She is very successful, especially in Japan. In Singapore, I found a place where they sell some products from her hand. I bought me some stickers there. Natalie Lete sometimes collaborates with Anthropologie (love that brand) which makes it suck even more that we have no access to that brand from Holland and neither from Singapore. Grrrr…. Although I was not on the look out for Natalie Lete in Tokyo, I recognized her style right away in the window of Usagi Pour Toi. A lovely store, with beautiful clothes and shoes as well. All quite expensive, so I only bought some postcards by Lete.
- Too Ticki
I stumbled upon this tiny shop in Koenji. They have postcards, jewelry, and other cute items. Just a charming store, great for finding small gifts.
- Tsutsumu Factory
Such a cute stationery shop in Shibuya with a fantastic, big collection of stickers, cards and paper. You can enter from one street and exit on the other end on another street. Two levels with fabulous stationery!
I loved the shoes and booties in this shop in Shibuya. I particularly liked the animal collection. Their shoes and boots with crystals and fur were lovely too.
I only peaked inside this enormous store for 5 minutes and I already knew that I loved it. 7 floors with stationery, home goods and gifts. Walhalla for me! But I had exposed Frits to more than enough shopping already at that moment, so I had to let this shop go:-(.
Do you know any of these shops? Which are the ones that appeal to you most?
What do you think of Blythe dolls? Cute? Creepy? I have seen some customizations recently that were very unique and impressive. But man, what a prices people ask! Easily USD 800.-!
And how about those giraffe shoes? Would you wear them? I would!
Oh, and as a bonus, here’s the loot of all my shoppings in Tokyo. Never came home from a trip with so many purchases before!