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Where to Shop in Tokyo – from expensive boutiques to charming flea markets

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Tokyo is its own epicentre when it comes to shopping, with towering malls plastered with brightly colored advertising signs, it would be hard to ignore the city’s thirst for consumerism. It has its own ‘out-there’ cult fashion and is one of the best places in the world for gadgets. From designer boutiques to flea markets, Tokyo certainly has it all as sightseeing districts double as shopping areas specialising in certain trends and themes.

Amy Austen

My Destination local expert on

Tokyo

Akihabara

 

If electronics and gadgets are your bag, then Akihabara will draw you in like a magnet; home to Yodobashi Camera and Yamada Denki plus many smaller shops which are closely packed along the streets. If electronics isn’t enough for you, this shopping area is also known for its Otaku culture, otherwise known as anime manga. Lots of shops are devoted to this cartoon craze selling everything from comics to games.

 

Tokyo Skytree

 

Many of Tokyo’s shopping centers and areas are more geared towards the local Tokyo shopper, thus not selling souvenirs and gifts. The shops surrounding the base of the Skytree tower building are known as the Tokyo Slamachi and consist of over 300 shops. This is your best bet for some reasonably priced gifts and unique souvenirs to take home.

 

Shinjuku

 

With the busiest train station in the world, Shinjuku is a prime shopping location suitable for a range of budgets with department stores, electronic megastores and huge book stores. Many of Tokyo’s tallest buildings reside here along with lots of flagship stores which have basement food halls with an array of tastes to choose from. There is even an underground mall where bargains are waiting to be snapped up. When night time comes, bright neon lights light up the shop facades.

 

Shibuya

 

If you’re travelling with teens with a slightly overactive fashion sense, then they will be more than happy with the delights of Shibuya’s prime shopping locations. It’s the birthplace of much of Japan’s youth fashion and culture and still brims with the height of style and trends. As another large district it is known for its cool teen shops such as Shibuya 109 and its boutique stores.

 

Ginza

 

Ginza is Tokyo’s premier upmarket shopping area. Here, pretty much all western and Japanese up-market brands can be found from make-up and designer clothes to fashionable electronics such as Apple. Top designer boutiques and brands line the streets catering to the serious shoppers’ credit cards or even just the window shopper wanting to experience an afternoon of Tokyo’s finest wares.

 

Tsukiji

 

When general tourist shopping has gotten the better of you and you feel the need for something a little more down-to-earth, head to the Tsukiji fish market, which is actually one of the most visited markets in town. Tuna auctions pre-dawn are very popular to watch however, if that’s too early, stalls are still lively later on and are literally bursting with freshly caught fish on ice, sellers shouting and bargaining all on the narrow market lanes.

 

Otsuka

 

Tokyo is not all about glamorous and expensive items in huge department stores; it still retains charm in the form of a good old flea market selling decent and desirable second hand pieces. Most of Tokyo’s flea markets are held on Sundays in various public locations around the city and sometimes even at temples and shrines, they sell all the expected items of antiques and clothes.

 

Shopping tips: Head to Tsukiji fish market before dawn to get the best of the tuna catch if you can. Most flea markets are held on the second Saturday of the month, so check the internet before heading to one. English is spoken at quite a few, but perhaps take a phrase book with you if you’re feeling brave and go to a Japanese speaking market. Whilst up-market malls will take almost any form of plastic, some of the smaller and cheaper shops on the street may be cash only, so don’t shop without it!