Fashion has become synonymous with well-known places like France, Italy, and the US. These countries house the big names for haute couture and were the first to forward fashion as something more than just clothing. Any major fashion enthusiast would easily pick any of these places given the chance of a shopping spree. The contributions that most fashion houses and designers from the said countries have become the standard for clothing and style. It would also be no understatement to say that haute couture was born here. More than that, it thrives in such places where world-renowned designers and household brands abound.
But changes are bound to happen sooner or later. Western countries no longer have exclusive rights to being a fashion superpower.
Japan was already known for many things, but it was only until recently that people were able to recognize the charms that set Japanese fashion apart from the others. Fronting avant-garde instead of haute couture as the main point of each style, designers and Japanese clothing brands slowly rose in the style ranks to be recognized not just by the common consumer but by fellow houses as well.
Japan might be one of the few countries that still live and breathe their tradition and culture. It has also long been known that the Japanese value beauty and aesthetics proven by the number of things they were able to introduce in the past. But what made way to this current style development where more eccentric designs are shown in the streets of the cities? Comfort is always a major factor. The Japanese style effortlessly shows the perfect balance between being stylish and being comfortable with their clothes.
People from all over the world look towards Japanese fashion for the newest trends. Whatever style you favor – be it edgy or prim, dark or colorful – you will surely have the best finds. But this can only be achieved if you know where to go.
As the country’s capital, Tokyo has seen the best influx of tourists mostly for vacation and trips. To experience Japan is surely on the bucket lists of most people. And no visit is complete without ever seeing what the capital has to offer.
However, these days, aside from its tradition and culture, many frequent Tokyo for its fashion finds. Creating the best OOTDs (outfit of the day) while traveling is a necessary thing after all. It will be for your benefit to know where to shop so here are the top 10 shopping districts in Tokyo!
Starting the list is the district that takes you back to old Japan. During the time Tokyo was still Edo, this exact area served as the main place for trade and commerce. Merchants and establishments of historic goods can be found in the area. Since this is where trading in Tokyo began, one can find Mitsukoshi (三越), which is the first-ever department store in Japan, along with other well-known stores. Traditional food and products abound the area and it is easy to feel the tradition and culture ingrained in the very fiber of long-standing shops. Of course, those who wish to avail of quality clothing can find it here.
The creation of Tokyo Midtown (東京ミッドタウン) and Roppongi Hills (六本木ヒルズ) turned the tides for what was once an ill-reputed place in the city. Old Roppongi was seen as the hub for wild bars and parties. But with the addition of the right spots and an opportunity to grow within several years, it transformed into something more. Upscale stores for fashion and accessories can now be seen all over the area. This has also become the go-to place for interior designers and decor enthusiasts.
What makes this district more interesting is the existence of some traditional samurai shops. If you are lucky, you can find one that sells authentic artifacts and weaponry.
Often dubbed as “the playground for elderly women,” Sugamo offers a relaxing and slow-paced atmosphere which is a far cry from other districts. It truly is a haven for the elderly who want to take leisurely strolls around the area while immersing themselves in the finds every store has to offer without being pressured to move faster. Of course, everything, including clothing, caters to the tastes of the clientele.
It would be good to visit the area during times when smaller festivals to honor Jizo Bodhisattva are held. The ancient monk whose statue is seen at the center of the street entrance is believed to grant healing to people who sincerely prays to it.
This is surely one of the more famous Tokyo districts. Often referred to in films, various animation series, and books, it has more to offer than just scenic spaces.
Being one of the more frequented places in the entire Tokyo region, it has become a hub for both local and international brands. This can be observed with the myriad of establishments solely dedicated to such products. It is not just home to internationally known fashion brands, but also caters to well-known electronic brands in the worldwide scene.
Despite what seems to be a larger-than-life Ginza, those who wish to could still see the charms of Japan existent on smaller shops for fine crafts and trinkets like Takumi (たくみ – Japanese only) and handmade toy shop Hakuhinkan (博品館). The quality of arts and crafts is always on point as well.
Think that the meeting of two worlds is impossible? This is where Harajuku district would prove you wrong as it is where the famous parallel streets lie, always beside each other but never meeting. The concept of parallelism might also apply in the literal sense for both Omotesando (表参道) and Takeshita Dori (竹下通り).
Omotesando is often compared to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées of France because of the structural semblance as well as the presence of high-end establishments in the area. Along the entire street, you will find household luxury brands that took over the world. Designer shops can be seen in the area as well. Most shops cater to individuals with more elegant and more classical fashion tastes, not to mention people with more money.
On the other side lies Takeshita Dori which caters to the fashion of the young. Often cramped and crowded with people and establishments, the entire street gives off the youthful vibe that is quite a far cry from what could be seen on the other side. Activities and shops for the teenage crowd can be found here.
The district where trends are born. As they say, “fashion favors the bold,” and Japanese fashion does exactly that. As you know, several Japanese designers already made it big in the international scene. And some of those brands sprouted and flourished in the very lands of the Shibuya district.
Although the entire place in itself is home for bold and eccentric fashion statements, you can find some calm and quiet in several areas of Aoyama (青山) and Daikanyama (代官山).
If you are looking for larger than life, this is exactly it. And this is not just a place for fashion enthusiasts and shoppers, but the entire populace in general with its different activity offerings and entertainment centers you could choose from.
Because of the fact that the location of the entire district is strategically good, people would be seen hustling and bustling every day whether they are just passing by or actually there to buy something. The Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) has already been dubbed as “the busiest station in the world” so it’s only natural to find hundreds of people in the area every single day, to the point that it can be overwhelming for first-timers or for any tourist.
But don’t fear because you will be blessed with a variety of choices in terms of shops and establishments with good price ranges. Arcade stores and electronic stores are also present. A specific area in Shinjuku also caters to music lovers both old and new. You will be able to find rare vinyl and tapes even.
Akihabara is considered as one of the places well known as an electronics mecca. Any type of gadget you need and in any size? You will find it here. And for tech-savvy individuals, it is heaven indeed. But this is not the only thing that the district is known for.
This is also where the otaku (オタク) culture thrives and breathes. Stores for numerous mangas and different series merchandise can be found anywhere you look. For people who are into cosplaying, this paradise would surely provide you with everything you need. The best thing about this is that you will have more options, and on top of that, you can find something that is surely within the budget you have.
What was first built centuries ago for the purpose of defense has now become a top commercial and tourist destination. Odaiba, a man-made island currently resting in Tokyo Bay (東京湾), is proof of how developed Japan is and how prepared the Japanese people could be.
Since Odaiba is surrounded by water in all corners, several establishments have taken advantage of this fact and built aquatic-themed attractions around the area.
Over the years, this area has been known as one of the best picks if you ever want to go on a romantic date with a dreamy setting and all. However, the fact that the biggest malls and shopping areas could be found here cannot be denied as well.
Several years ago, VenusFort, part of the Palette Town (パレットタウン) complex, was created which takes concept after the romantic Venice, Italy. From the architecture to the activities, they were able to capture the charms of such an amorous city. But this is not the only thing they were able to give. For individuals who would like to take fun and adventure over romantic strolls on picturesque places any day, you would not need to go far. An amusement park that boasts of top-of-the-line rides can also be found on the same island.
This district might be the most different and most interesting out of the entire list because the products sold here are quite specific to one field alone. You might be able to find other types of establishments here, but Kappabashi is best known for its culinary products. This pertains to the different items you need for cooking – from the utensils to the most modern types of devices and cooking gadgets. Planning a restaurant or a kitchen will be easier when you are in the area.
Of course, clothing related to kitchen work can be found here as well. The area can be considered as a one-stop shop for cooking enthusiasts and future business owners.
These areas might not be included on the list, but you will also find interesting things here that might make you want to include them on your itinerary.
TOKYO Solamachi (東京ソラマチ)
The Tokyo Skytree is one of the most prominent symbols of the city, if not of entire Japan itself. And the reason why Solamachi is very well known is the fact that it is located directly under the Skytree. So tourists who are on vacation and visiting the landmark could easily spot the shops present.
Souvenir shops are also abundant in the area. It gives tourists the convenience to shop around while strolling the place. Of course, the latest on fashion can also be found here.
This district houses the second-largest and busiest station in all of Japan. And just like Shinjuku, you can find an overwhelming amount of people in the area on a daily basis. So for those who are not used to the crowd, you must prepare yourself.
Electronic goods are abundant in the larger stores. Both international and local brands of products can also be found in the area. But what can be considered interesting are the large department stores located adjacent or next to each other. And they are not just merely doing business but showing outright how they can compete with the others which make for good bargain sales from time to time.
Japanese fashion has given people the chance to be fashionable despite the fact that you only wear stuff casually. Fashion is more than just clothing but a means of expression and a mindset for people. It reflects you and your personality and this is exactly what you can see in the areas listed above. On top of that, you get to enjoy the scenery and the other things that the different Tokyo districts have to offer.
So there you have it. If you ever want to go to Japan, especially to its capital city, don’t forget to drop by any of these shopping heavens! Having an idea where to go will surely give you an advantage over your schedule. Make the best out of your trip and shop for some of the most memorable and authentic Japanese goods around town!