Tokyo shopping has it all: high-end and offbeat fashion, traditional crafts, vintage wares, all manner of only-in-Japan souvenirs, and that gadget you didn't know existed but now desperately want.

Whether you prefer department-store browsing or rummaging for secondhand treasures, read on to discover which Tokyo neighbourhood meets your shopping needs.

Shoppers walk along Nakamise-dōri shopping street on a clear day in Tokyo
Head to Nakamise-dōri in Asakusa for souvenirs and gifts © Happy Together / Shutterstock

1. Asakusa: laid back, souvenir strolling

Now decidedly relaxed, the Asakusa neighbourhood was once the heart of Edo’s low city, home to artisans and merchants. Its small lanes and winding alleyways are still full of surprises, including the vintage curios at Tokyo Hotarudo and the beautiful noren (shopfront curtains) for sale at Bengara. For straight-forward gift shopping, Nakamise-dōri (leading up to temple Sensō-ji) is good for souvenir trinkets – try the back streets for better-quality stuff. Marugoto Nippon has a good collection of arts and crafts boutiques, while the long stretch of Kappabashi-dōri also yields uniquely Japanese curiosities in its little culinary-supply shops.

A range of colourful paper supplies on display in Itōya stationery shop in Ginza, Tokyo
Itōya in Ginza has nine floors of paper, art supplies and more for stationery buffs © Antonio Rubio / CC

2. Ginza: glitz and glam

Ginza is the affluent shopping district in Tokyo, home to the city's posh boutiques and gleaming department stores, such as the classic Mitsukoshi and avant-garde Dover Street Market Ginza. There’s also the glitzy high-fashion mall, Ginza Six. But tucked in between some of the more imposing facades are simpler pleasures, like the fine crafts at Takumi, the gourmet food items at Akoymeya, and the nine floors of stationery and art supplies at Itōya. Shopping options in this neighbourhood reflect the breadth and depth of the city’s consumer culture, which stretches from high-fashion glam to down-to-earth crafts.

Hundreds of cookie cutters of various shapes and sizes in a store on Kappabashi-dōri
Cookie cutters are among the culinary-related goods for sale on Kappabashi-dōri © Stephen L Johnson / CC

3. Kuramae: original arts

Once a drab warehouse district along the Sumida-gawa (Sumida River), Kuramae has been refashioned as the place for young artisans to set up shop. Check out Camera for leather goods (and smoothies); Maito for clothes coloured with traditional, natural dyes; and Kakimori, where you can design your own notebook and ink colour. Stroll around the district and you’re bound to find more boutiques with one-of-a-kind goods.

Furniture and other homewares on display outside a store in the Kichijōji area, Tokyo
Tokyo's Kichijōji area is great for furniture and homewares shopping © everyday polkadot / Shutterstock

4. Kōenji and Kichijōji: kooky bits

Just west of Shinjuku, Kōenji is a bastion of counterculture with lots of secondhand shops and unusual finds. Don't miss the collection of fashion stores inside the ramshackle Kita-Kore Building and the coveted vintage goods at easy-to-miss Sokkyō. Travel further west on the Chūō line to hit Kichijōji, which is a popular place to trawl for homewares. Start with the boho objets at Outbound and the antique ceramics at Puku Puku.

A modern, glass-walled bookstore in Daikanyama, Tokyo.
Daikanyama neighbourhood is home to bookshops new and old © rayints / Shutterstock

5. Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro: books, boutiques and bohemian

Near Ebisu, Daikanyama is a residential enclave of cafes and boutiques, with fashion and accessories specialists such as Okura. Bibliophiles should head to Daikanyama T-Site. Naka-Meguro, a stroll away, is Daikanyama's more bohemian neighbour and is home to secondhand stores and hidden lounge bars. Vase, with its vintage pieces, is among the shopping highlights here.

High-angle view of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing at night, with hundreds of people crowding the famous street crossing
Shibuya, home to the famous Shibuya 'scramble' Crossing and youth-oriented shopping © Jonathan Stokes / Lonely Planet

6. Shibuya: hip haunts

Shibuya is a fountain of teen trendiness in Japan. If you’re over 30 you might feel way too old here, but just cruise and amuse yourself in the madness. Music shops and cheap, outrageous apparel are everywhere, as are the hip kids who come to primp and pose. Check out the youth-focused fashion at Shibuya 109, underground designers at Candy, and don't miss browsing the floors of homewares, gadgets and accessories at Tokyu Hands.

People in the street of Shimo-kitazawa district. It is evening and the various neon lights illuminate the scene.
Shimo-Kitazawa is a favourite haunt of students and arty types © NORHAFIS MOHD AMIN / Shutterstock

7. Shimo-Kitazawa: vintage and vinyl

Southwest of Shibuya is the small neighbourhood of Shimo-Kitazawa (aka Shimokita), a favourite haunt of students and arty types, with quirky shops, restaurants and hole-in-the-wall bars. Stroll the narrow streets here to discover Tokyo's highest concentration of vintage-clothing stores – Haight & Ashbury  is among the best. Shimokita is also good for its record stores, and the mixed bag of stalls at the covered market Shimokita Garage Department.

A side-on view of Takeshita-dori: a pedestrian shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Many people walk along through the streets, browsing the shops as they go, while above their heads, signs for various businesses protrude from the walls.
The busy and colourful shopping strip of Takeshita-dōri in Harajuku © ItzaVU / Shutterstock

8. Harajuku and Aoyama: believe the hype

The twin neighbourhoods of Harajuku and Aoyama are home to the youthful shopping strip Takeshita-dōri and the stylish boulevard of Omote-sandō. Sophisticated high fashion rules the Aoyama end of Omote-sandō, while the experimental hipsters of Harajuku layer haute couture with vintage finds. And then there is Ura-Hara, the maze of backstreets behind Omote-sandō, where you'll find eccentric little shops and secondhand stores. There are countless shopping options: get started at Laforet, 6% Doki Doki and Sou-Sou for clothes and accessories; Gallery Kawano for vintage kimono; or RagTag for pre-loved fashion.

Poster artwork on display in the windows of Isetan department store
Window display at Isetan, one of Tokyo's best department stores © Zengame / CC

9. Shinjuku: something for everyone

Shopping in Shinjuku can be a little overwhelming. From the moment you step out of the train station, the lights and noise make the whole neighbourhood seem like the interior of a bustling casino, but there are some great shops amid all the chaos. Here you'll find Isetan, one of Tokyo’s most revered department stores; the something-for-everyone 'variety' store Don Quijote; and Disk Union, where music lovers can lose a day browsing the eight storeys of secondhand vinyl and CDs.

A man browses a comic book in a Manga store. The floor to ceiling walls around the shopper are filled with anime-style comics, toys and games.
A visit to Akihabara district is a must for lovers of anime and manga © Vassamon Anansukkasem / Shutterstock

10. Akihabara: the new otaku hub

The neighbourhood of Akihabara  is Tokyo's traditional hub for electronics, and these can still be found in the Akihabara Electric Town district and stores such as Akihabara Radio Center. The neighbourhood has also become known as a centre for otaku (geeks) and their penchant for anime, manga and J-Pop culture. Among the stores catering to the otaku crowd is the huge Mandarake Complex. Also in the area is the excellent under-the-train-tracks crafts bazaar 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan; and Jimbōchō, boasting more than 170 bookstores.

Tokyo shopping top tips:

- More and more stores (especially department stores) offer tax-free shopping to foreign tourists spending over ¥5000. Bring your passport and look for the tax-free stickers in the window. See also
- Carry some cash with you: traditional and smaller stores may not accept credit cards.
- Though bargaining is the norm in most of Asia, in Japan it’s not done, except at flea markets and the occasional electronics store.
- Tokyo’s department stores have excellent basement food halls, which are great for finding foodie gifts (or for a mid-shopping treat).

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This article was first published in July 2010, and last updated in December 2019.

This article was first published May 2019 and updated December 2019

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