Japan is a shopper's paradise, with retail therapy opportunities to suit (or blow!) every kind of budget, from the minuscule (think: 100 Yen shops) to the massive (think: luxury designer brands) and plenty of souvenir hunting opportunities in between.
We've rounded up a few of the main types of shops that you should check out while you're in Japan - just make sure that you allocate your budget wisely for all the goodies you'll surely want to purchase!
Japan is home to countless department stories, but here are a few which stand out from the crowd:
- Isetan Mitsukoshi. Delve into the ‘depachika’ at this luxury department store to see fruit so immaculately presented you’ll assume they’re Japanese ‘samples’ (fake, plastic food). Bubbling, sizzling, and oozing delicious scents across this food hall, you’ll never want to leave
- GINZA SIX. Newly opened in 2017, this is a department store with a difference. With a creative concept designed by Kenya Hara, the brains behind Japan House in London, you’ll find yourself shopping in amongst Yayoi Kusama’s famous ‘pumpkins’, before moving on to an evening of Noh Theatre, all within the same building.
- Omotesando Hills. Even if you can’t afford any of the products in this high-end department store in one of Tokyo’s shopping havens, you’ll enjoy walking in just to gaze around at the incredible spiral slope that runs through the middle (making it a slightly strenuous walk when you’re going up floors rather than down!)
100 Yen Shops
Daiso is Japan’s most famous 100 yen shop, though there are countless others. You’ll find Daiso shops all over Japan, even in rural towns. 100 yen shops differ from pound shops in that they sell a much wider variety of goods, all of which are high quality. Many expats who return from living in Japan miss a quick stop off at the Daido to pick up forgotten or much needed essentials – from chopsticks and miso soup bowls, through to cute stationary.
If you’re looking for character-themed goods, Character Street, located beneath Tokyo station, is a key stop off point on your Japan travels. Here you’ll find an official Pokemon store, Totoro and other anime goods, alongside classics such as Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
For tweens and teens, this is a fantasy land of door to door shops brimming with pop cultural items. You’ll find stores dedicated to Japan’s most famous girl bands, endless places to find the craziest fashions, and plenty of crepe and sweet-food eateries. For those who fancy something a little quieter, keep going through to the other side and then delve into the backstreets of Omotesando, where you’ll find lots of boutique shops and cafes in a more tranquil environment.
Don Quijote is a chain of Japanese shops found all over the country which sells a bizarre array of items – from snowmobiles and useful items for your car, through to fancy dress costumes and cosmetics. You will likely find everything you needed in Don Quijote and much, much more – you’re likely to find the latest whacky crazes in Japan on sale here. Prices are reasonably for almost all items, and it’s a good place to stock up on decorations if you’re planning a party.
Akihabara – electronics and manga
Once fames for its electronics, Akihabara is now more of a haven for ‘otaku’ looking for manga, anime and related goods. If you’re a big fan of Japanese manga, you will love the multi-storied buildings here selling an array of paraphernalia that you’d be hard-struck to find back in the UK.
Amerika-mura in Osaka
Outlandish fashions about here, where street fashion fans flock to find the latest trends. Even if you’re not a big shopper, walking through this area just window-gawping will provide you with free entertainment for several hours.
UNIQLO and Muji
UNIQLO and Muji both originate in Japan, meaning if you’re a fan of these brands you will love Japan – as prices are infinitely cheaper at shops here than in the UK. Pick up notebooks for under 500 yen (£3) in Muji, or get yourself clothed for under 1000 yen (£7) in UNIQLO. Sizes vary compared to the UK, and tend to be slightly on the smaller side.
Souvenir shops are a dime a dozen in Japan, and you’ll find souvenirs almost everywhere you go. Even road side rest stops will offer you a chance to purchase souvenirs from the prefecture your visiting, and convenience stores will often sell local goods. For the chance to pick up Japanese souvenirs which are not region-specific, such as masks, food items, fans and paintings, head to Nakamise Street next to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa for an enormous assortment of traditional Japanese goods.