To help make sense of the adventurous shopping extravaganza that is Tokyo, start with our cheat sheet on where to find everything from gourmet food to local fashion.
For Anime, Manga, and Electronics: Packed with booming, multi-floor arcades, pachinko parlours, and stores specializing in electronics and all things anime, Akihabara is the unofficial capital of Japan’s world-famous otaku culture. If we had to describe the area in three words, it’d be “fun sensory overload.”
For Fashion: All major department stores—Isetan, Mitsukoshi, Odakyu, and Takashimaya among them—have multiple locations around Tokyo and numerous floors dedicated to men’s and women’s clothing.
In general, Shibuya and Shinjuku are the best places to satisfy your fashion fix, from the Japanese designer boutiques tucked away in the quiet Omote-sandō alleyways to the trendy street fashions lining the manic Harajuku shopping strip.
Shimo-Kitazawa (vintage and retro fashion), Roppongi Hills, and Ginza (haute couture) are fashion-focused, as well.
For Foodies: The basement food halls, or depachikas, in Tokyo’s major department stores are legendary food temples. Attractions in their own right, the depachikas are a maze of bakeries, restaurants, sushi stands, delis, and gourmet groceries staffed by enthusiastic, smiling, bowing attendants.
You may not see more beautiful overall collections of food anywhere in the world—and, surprisingly, prices are quite reasonable. Some of the most-spectacular depachikas are at Takashimaya Times Square, Mitsukoshi Ginza, and Isetan Shinjuku.
For Late-Night Treasure Hunting: We won’t ruin the joy of discovery you’ll experience here, so let’s just say Don Quijote stocks just about everything you can and cannot imagine. They’re open until the wee morning hours—sometimes 24/7—found throughout Tokyo, and distinguished by their giant penguin logo.
For Literary Finds: Bibliophiles should make a beeline for laid-back Jinbōchō, the literary centre of Tokyo with well over 150 shops selling new and vintage Japanese- and English-language books of all kinds. Actively looking to buy or not, this is a lovely area to stroll on sunny afternoons.