Shopping in Tokyo is an art form and something of a national sport for locals, with prestige stores lining the streets of this unique metropolis. Burberry, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Chanel among other fashion behemoths feature designer items sold nowhere else. In short, Tokyo takes luxury shopping to new heights. That’s not to say you can’t find the high street’s finest too, with Uniqlo, Zara, H&M and Topshop showing off their brightest and best collections. There really is nothing this fashion-conscious capital does not offer when it comes to retail therapy at any budget.
Steeped in history, Ginza is the most traditional and most upmarket of Tokyo’s shopping districts. Weekends are the best time to browse the high-end shops and department stores because the area is closed off to cars. Luxury names to be found in Ginza include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Mikimoto, Hermès, Lanvin and Bvlgari. Hungry shoppers can stop at the elegant Armani restaurant on the 10th floor of the Ginza Tower (www.armani-ristorante.jp). Chanel’s 10-storey store is Ginza’s jaw-dropping, 1,300 square metre centrepiece, equipped with a concert hall and Beige – the contemporary French restaurant of celebrated chef Alain Ducasse (www.beige-tokyo.com).
If visiting in inclement weather, Dover Street Market is a great place to while away the hours. This ‘market’ is the concept store created by Rei Kawakubo, Japanese fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garçons. Spread across seven floors, Céline, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Azzedine Alaïa are just a few of the 100 designer labels on offer (www.ginza.doverstreetmarket.com).Beauty junkies should not miss Shiseido’s beauty salons for the inside track on achieving a brighter complexion or the latest lip colour. Shiseido’s Parlour restaurant and café is also a must-see on your journey (8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo 104-0061).
Don’t leave Ginza without visiting a department store. Matsuzakaya (www.matsuzakaya.co.jp), Mitsukoshi (www.mitsukoshi.mistore.jp), Wako (4-5-11 Ginza Chuo-Ku) and Matsuya (3-6-1 Ginza Chuo-Ku) offer everything from Japanese delicacies to high-end fashion and homewares. They are also great places to spot women wearing the traditional kimono.
Shinjuku is known as the district that never sleeps and with 2 million people passing through its railway station every day it’s easy to see why. If you are after electronics, this is the place to come. Hit the stores around the station for the latest cameras or, for a one-stop-shop, visit the 14-storey Takashimaya department store for fashion, including Italian label Bottega Veneta, and some of the best green tea around (www.takashimaya.co.jp/tokyo).
The giant Tokyu Hands store in the Times Square mega-mall will quench your thirst for uniquely Japanese goods, ranging from tea sets, kitchenware and even fashion for pets (www.shinjuku.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en). Shoppers wanting to fill their stationery cupboards will find cult store MUJI dotted all over the city but the Shinjuku store is one of the best (B1-3F, 3-15-15 Shinjuku, www.muji.com).
Shibuya is home to two retail experiences not to be missed by any visitor to Tokyo: Harajuku and the Omotesando Hills shopping complex. Harajuku is the city’s unmistakable centre of pop culture, where you will spot the most interesting looks on teenagers who bustle around the youth fashion boutiques. The world-famous Harajuku girls dress in their own unique style, with big accessories and a big emphasis on ‘kawaii’ or cuteness. Just a few minutes’ walk from Harajuku station you can find a brilliant mix of contemporary European and Japanese labels. The standout here is Isabel Marant’s flagship store, which has the full range of the French designer’s womenswear, shoes and accessories, including diffusion line Étoile (4-3-16 Jingumae Harajuku).
The impressive Omotesando Hills shopping complex was designed by architect Tadao Ando and contains more than 130 stores including AnnDemeulemeester, Escada Sport, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, Jimmy Choo and high street favourite Zara (www.ometsandohills.com).
From the editors of Simply You.