Two of my favourite things to do in Japan are eat and shop, and my two favourite stores to shop in are Daiso and Kiddyland!
Daiso, a chain that recently opened many stores across South East Australia, is basically the Australian version of a $2 store. They are the 100 yen shop! You can buy food, household items, toys, (some) clothing, gardenware, stationery, games and more! All for 100 yen. Blimey! You can see why it’s one of my favourite places to shop – plus while I’m in Australia, it gives me a little comfort while I’m feeling “homesick” for Japan (Melon Soda, anyone?). If you’re a little low on cash too, you can shop at Daiso for your basics, even meals.
Kiddyland is, for all intents and purposes, a simply a toy store. However, that sentence doesn’t do justice to the pure exhilaration you get from being in one of these stores! Kiddyland Tokyo is a 5 storey wonderland of plush toys, actions figures and television characters. The last time I went was during October, and the whole shop front was completely decked out for Halloween.
Depending on what store you visit, the floors or certain areas of them will have dedicated themes (like Hello Kitty) that go crazy on decoration too – just like above.
If you’re after easily-found souvenirs to take home with you for fussy family members or children who won’t really appreciate something truly cultural, Daiso and Kiddyland are the perfect places to shop.
Top 8 places to shop across Japan(in my personal opinion and in no particular order)
1 | Shinjuku, Tokyo
Shopping in Shinjuku can be somewhat overwhelming. From the second you step out of the train station, the lights and noise of the department stores make the whole place seem like the interior of a bustling casino. But there are some great shops amid all the mayhem, and you can find just about anything you ever wanted. Two branches of the Kinokuniya bookstore are here, as is stately Isetan, one of Tokyo’s most revered department stores, which caters to the young set. It is also a great place to come to shop for electronics if you’re not motivated to trek all the way to Akihabara.
2 | Harajuku, Tokyo
Harajuku is known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. It has a split personality with two parallel shopping streets that cater to very different shoppers. Omotesando, known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees, is a tree lined avenue with upscale boutiques, cafes and several leading designer brand shops. Takeshita Dori, on the other hand, is a center of youth fashion and counter culture found along a narrow street crammed with shops and cafes targeting the younger, teenage crowd. Harajuku still earns much of its wider reputation a gathering place for fans and aficionados of Japanese street fashion and associated subcultures. Jingu Bashi, the pedestrian bridge between Harajuku Station and the entrance to the Meiji Shrine used to act as a gathering place on Sundays to showcase some of the more theatrical styles.
3 | Odaiba, Tokyo
Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. Odaiba has various areas dedicated to specialised themes and is a wonderland for shopaholics. Aqua City is a large shopping complex next to Odaiba Kaihin Park. After shopping among the 80 shops, mainly selling clothing, you can enjoy eating at “the Local Noodle Festival” which offers local foods from all over Japan. Decks Tokyo Beach is Odaiba’ s number one place for entertainment. There are various fashionable clothing shops and accessory shops.
4 | Hondori Shopping Arcade, Hiroshima
Hiroshima has a bustling downtown area, the main feature of which is Hondori Street. Hondori is a pedestrian arcade that is closed to traffic and lined with shops and restaurants. It starts near the Peace Park and stretches east about half a kilometer. Running parallel to Hondori is Aioidori (Aioi Street), the main street used by cars and trams. Along Aioi Street stand a few large department stores where even more shopping can be found.
5 | Shinsaibashi, Osaka
Shinsaibashi is a district in the Chuo-ku ward of Osaka, Japan and the city’s main shopping area. It centers around Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered shopping street, that is north of Dotonbori and parallel and east of Mido-suji street. The Shisaibashi has developed from the arcaded streets called Shinsaibashi Shopping Street. This district has a row of large size department stores and reasonably priced shops. The Suomachi-suji Street offers an elegant atmosphere with stone paved sidewalks with British style streetlamps and brick buildings. This area is nicknamed as the European Village.
6 | Asakusa Markets, Tokyo
When approaching the Asakusa temple, visitors first enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji Temple; the symbol of Asakusa and the entire city of Tokyo. A shopping street of over 200 meters, called Nakamise, leads from the outer gate to the temple’s second gate, the Hozomon. Alongside typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from the Asakusa area are sold along the Nakamise. The shopping street has a history of several centuries.
7 | Nishiki Market, Kyoto
Nishiki Market is a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware. Nishiki Market has a pleasant, but busy atmosphere that is inviting to those who want to explore the variety of culinary delights that Kyoto is famous for. The stores found throughout the market range in size from small narrow stalls to larger two story shops. Most specialize in a particular type of food, and almost everything sold at the market is locally produced and procured.
8 | Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade, Kyoto
Shinkyogoku Street runs perpendicular to Nishiki Market. It’s what you’d expect to see in a Japanese shopping street. Random boutiques and small clothing stores. Another attraction of Shinkyogoku shopping arcade are the 7 temples and 1 shrine that are situated along the strip. Located in the centralized commercial district of downtown Kyoto (Shijo Kawaramachi Area), Shinkyogku Shopping arcade stretches 500 meters long.
Just remember that anywhere you shop, you’ll more than likely need cash. Japan is a cash society, and cards and cheques are treated as second rate. You’ll have no problem using your plastic in big department stores, but watch out in the smaller shops, as most won’t carry an Eftpos or credit card machine. So remember to get cash out at every opportunity!
Where have you shopped in Japan and how was the experience? Comment below!