Traveling to Japan is an amazing experience where you can see breathtaking nature and impressive historic buildings, experience thrilling festivals, sample delicious local food, and shop until you drop. Shopaholics would probably agree that cities like Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo have enough shopping centers, themed and specialty stores, and shopping streets to last a lifetime!
Bringing back “omiyage” (gifts) for friends and for yourself to help remember the amazing experiences, however, can be a time-consuming and expensive challenge. Having a list of the most convenient and interesting shopping places may help facilitate it for you and help you easily find great places to buy great and cheap souvenirs. Here are the top 15 places for easy souvenir shopping in Tokyo.
The pathway leading up to Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa has multiple street vendors selling not only food items but great souvenirs at decent prices. It’s a great street to visit and stroll along on your way to see the temple, and along the way you can grab snacks, traditional gifts like sandals and kimonos, and accessories ranging from jewelry to phone cases to bags and hats. For even more options, you can venture into any of the covered shopping streets branching out from the main Nakamise street.
The items you will see here are also very affordable; I have found an umbrella there that when it gets wet shows cherry blossoms for under $15.00. Senso-ji Temple is on most people’s list of things to do when they visit Tokyo, so if you find yourself there, keep an eye out for souvenirs to take home.
Ameyoko Street is located in Ueno near Ueno Park and is a great place for bargain hunters to explore. This group of streets with countless stores and shops is a maze of shopping opportunities. You can find many things here such as clothing, gadgets, leather goods, locally produced tea, food products, and much more.
There is also a market underground here you can find collectible items such as knives, guns, swords, and watches. You might even find a few things to grab for yourself while you’re out there souvenir shopping! And mixed with all the shops there are a number of cafes and relaxed eateries and street bars if you need a break. Give this exciting market a try if you go to Ueno; as it is in such a good location close to the station and the park, it is easy to get to and will surely keep you busy for a while.
The Oriental Bazaar has the most iconic Japanese goods all in one place, so it’s perfect if you’d like to buy different souvenirs that are authentically Japanese. On the second floor, you’ll find antiques, kimonos; on the first floor, there is Japanese ceramics and ‘miscellaneous’ goods, and on the basement floor you’ll see t-shirts, fans, kimono accessories, and more.
From sake and tea sets to kimonos, samurai swords and even furniture, there is something for every budget limit and every taste. The main shop is in Omotesando, Harajuku, convenient if you are already going to check out Harajuku’s fashion stores or paying a visit to Meiji Jingu Shrine. Please note that this shop is closed on Thursdays.
100 yen shops are a must-go for anyone looking to buy souvenirs for multiple friends at reasonable prices and decent quality. 100-yen stores such as Seria or Daiso sell many goods for only 100 yen (plus tax, so usually around 110 yen) as well as a few items at 200 or 300 yen (the staff will remind you before buying that you have picked up a more expensive item, and they are also clearly labeled most of the time).
Their branches have ample selections ranging from fans, chopsticks, stationery, garden items, kitchen items, stickers, children’s toys, party decorations, socks, gloves, and cute ceramic pottery. The shops may sell most of their stock at 100 yen, but that doesn’t mean they skip out on quality. A 100-yen shop is exactly what you need if you’d like to buy souvenirs for many people.
Kappabashi Street is located between Asakusa and Ueno, and this unlikely tourist destination is the perfect place to pick up anything kitchen-related. From Japanese forged steel knives (that are engraved on-site for no additional cost) to anything Japanese cooking related, this is the place to go to buy souvenirs for those that love cooking.
One can get lost in the myriad of options available here. If you have a friend or family member who enjoys making delicious food, definitely pay Kappabashi Street a visit and check out their merchandise!
You might not think that a drugstore would be a very exciting place to do any shopping. However, drugstores in Japan (and especially Tokyo) are on a different level. Matsumoto Kiyoshi has an extensive selection of makeup, skin care products, and other great quality beauty products at very affordable prices.
As well as grabbing toiletries and other essentials, take a look at the beauty section, where you’ll find makeup, fake eyelashes, nail polish, and more. Any friend of yours hoping to try some Japanese cosmetics would be glad of a gift from this place!
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Kiddy Land is an adorable store filled with all sorts of Japanese character-themed goods from manga, anime, games etc. In addition, they also have Disney merchandise. They have everything from stationary to small toys to giant plushies, perfect for any children, children at heart, or collectors in your life who are fans of Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma, to name a few of the merchandise available. Of course, you can always a bunch of gifts for yourself too!
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A paradise of an electronics store, Yodobashi’s impressive selection is located in the many buildings of its Shinjuku and Akihabara stores, or any Yodobashi branch scattered around Tokyo or other big cities in Japan. There is an endless list of goods to buy from computers, tablets, and smartphones to electric razors, hair dryers, washing machines and, of course, a gigantic selection of cameras and photography-related accessories, even analogue photography film. Yodobashi Camera also has a decent selection of toys, plastic model kits, gacha capsule toys and so on. The list really does go on, though, as you’ll see if you stop by! Just be careful not to get lost in the bright, multi-story maze of electronics.
Don Quijote is the store of everything. If you come upon the giant stores in Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Ikebukuro, you will see floors upon floors of miscellaneous goods at extremely reasonable prices. There are grocery items, makeup, household goods, Halloween and cosplay costumes, clothing, gadgets, fashion accessories, seasonal goods, unusual inventions you may not find anywhere else, and so much more. Pay special attention to’unusual inventions’, you might be surprised at what you find!
This is a great place to buy a multitude of souvenirs at great prices. Donki, as the shop is nicknamed by locals, is a great place to find limited edition KitKats and other snacks, official goods from famous shops like Ichiran Ramen, small packaged of alcohol (as many airlines and customs limit the quantity allowed to bring in), and other things that have the tourist needs in mind. A bonus is that many of the larger stores are open 24 hours a day! The store in Shibuya was also renovated in early 2017, making it even bigger and better than before.
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Tokyu Hands is well-known for its extensive stationary and household goods. The store also carries a lot of seasonal goods and decorations like Halloween costumes or Christmas trees! If you are not going there during the holidays, the magnets, stickers, notebooks, and pens should be enough to keep stationery lovers shopping for ages!
Update your office accessories or keep an eye out for gift ideas for your stationery-loving friends. Japanese stationery is also very cute, and the many things you’ll find here can keep you entertained for hours.
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Loft, like Tokyu Hands, is also a great place to find unique stationary, among many other things. The Shibuya store has an entire floor dedicated to stationary and there is plenty to choose from! There are also five more floors in the store, each with their own type of goods such as gifts, cosmetics, and interior goods. It has been described as Tokyo’s “Secret souvenir store”, offering seasonal items and unique gift sets. They also have several stores all around Tokyo.
Are you or your friends fans of Hello Kitty? If so, you can’t miss the exciting Sanrio store! Hello Kitty and her adorable companions are in these shops all over the place. And these official shops dedicated only to Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters tend to have the biggest selection and the most limited edition goods. Plus, you are shopping in that cute Sanrio atmosphere! There are several stores in Tokyo, as well as the store that is party of Hello Kityy theme park called Sanrio Puroland.
— 松姉ぇ (@matsuz0) 2012年8月23日
Snack company Glico, the company that gave us Pocky and Cheeza crackers, has their own store dedicated to their delicious food in Tokyo Station. You can get your hands on Pocky of all sorts, including giant and rainbow varieties as well as strawberry, coconut, and more, as well as other delicious Glico snacks.
There are several items that are only available in Tokyo Station as well! If you or your potential souvenir receivers have a sweet tooth, pay the Glicoya Kitchen a visit.
Antique Mall offers a fantastic variety of Asian antiques and collectible items. You can find household items as well as clothing and accessories at this mall. The antiques here are truly beautiful, though they might be more expensive than the other souvenirs on this list! They will make a special gift for someone very important to you, or for a very special occasion when you want to splurge on a gift.
This store is a combination of two of Japan’s great shopping spots – Bic Camera for electronics and Uniqlo for clothing. Bicqlo is located in Shinjuku and has several floors, including Uniqlo’s sister store, GU, on the 7th floor.
You might find you’ll spend more time in here than you mean to, so be sure to keep track of time! Whether you’re looking for clothing or gadgets, Bicqlo has you covered.
Not Speaking Japanese
Be mindful that although many Japanese souvenirs shops are likely to have staff members who may speak some English, this will likely be limited. Even in the main touristy spots, don’t expect to be able to describe exactly what you want and necessarily get your answer. Maybe try and see if they have a dedicated multilingual staff person, but don’t expect every member of staff to be able to speak foreign languages. Many of the big stores like Donki, Yodobashi, Bicqlo etc will have a tax free counter that is dedicated to foreign visitors and the staff there should speak English, or another internationally used language. If you want to get the tax free discount make sure you have your passport on you!
A good option to get around the language barrier may be to show the staff a picture of what you’re looking for. Alternatively, use translation apps to try to communicate with staff. Staff are generally very helpful and will strive to assist you in finding the sorts of products you’re looking for.
Japan is one of the safest places in which to be a tourist. It is widely known that the crime rate in this country is very low. When shopping, you needn’t be too worried about having to watch your bags.
However, although pick-pocketing and petty crime are very low, it does still happen, particularly in busy, touristy areas where many people may not be watching their bags closely. Be wary of this, especially in crowded places.
If you find your wallet or belongings have been stolen or lost, you can find police offices stationed at most train stations. You can also inform a staff member usually present at big sightseeing spots, as many will be able to help you or direct you to authorities.
The chances are the police will genuinely be able to assist you, and will try their best to help. But to avoid all of this hassle, keep half an eye on your belongings as you’re making your way through the extremely crowded tourist areas in Tokyo or in other cities in Japan.
Just as petty crime in Japan is very low, it is also unlikely you will be ripped-off by store vendors in the country. Whereas in many countries in Asia you will usually have to negotiate price, and will generally be over-charged as a tourist, Japan is usually very different.
There is a culture of politeness in Japan, and equally, there is a sense of shame associated with being dishonest or trying to cheat people out of money. Also, even in street markets, most products have fixed pricing written clearly so you won’t need to negotiate. Prices will usually also be stated clearly, so you can be sure that they are prices charged to both locals and tourists.
Don’t Spend More Money Than You Need To!
You may find when you are shopping for souvenirs such as chopsticks, kimonos, and even sweets, that there can be a real difference in quality and price. Be wary of this, because many souvenirs shops sell very high-quality but also highly priced products. In many cases, you may not need things of this quality and could just as easily look for less-valuable things which would make just as good a present!
Of course, if you have money to spend and want fine quality, you will surely find it. But if you are on a budget or need to buy a high volume of presents for people at home, I’d recommend that you spend some time really looking for decent prices.
These 15 locations should be plenty for all of your souvenir shopping needs whether you’re looking for sweets, toys, clothing, stationery, or antiques! With all of the different locations and merchandise, you will not only find a gift for everyone, you’ll also enjoy a pleasant shopping trip along the way! Good luck and happy shopping!
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Featured photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash