Whenever you visit Japan, especially if it’s your first time, one of the top five things you’ll want to do is: shopping! And why wouldn’t you: very few cities in the world offer the same kind of shopping experience and opportunities you can find in Tokyo.
One thing to remember, though, is that Tokyo is a colossal metropolis. The largest in the world, in fact. You could certainly use one of the many guides available online to find some shopping areas, but wouldn’t it be much better if you could listen to some recommendations coming directly from people who live here, and also who are from the same country as you are?
Many people from the Philippines visit Japan, and Tokyo in particular, every year. Not only that: the Filipino community in Japan counts more than 260,000 people currently residing in the Land of the Rising Sun. If you’re visiting from the Philippines, why not ask those with the same background as yours what areas would be the best to go do some shopping?
We asked a few of the attendees of the recent Philippine Festival what shopping areas in Tokyo they would suggest other Filipinos visiting the city shouldn’t miss. See what they think and get yourself a nice head start on your planning!
1. Shibuya: A sure bet, especially with teens
Grace M. works for an insurance company and has been living in Japan for 14 years. “Outlet shops are good” she told us “because they are cheap and have a lot of stuff, but for wakai (young) people and teens, I think Forever21 is great. My daughter loves Forever21, and H&M in Shibuya. It’s also fun to go to the Hard Rock Café, and Roppongi, or Ueno.”
‘Outlets’, as they are called in Japan, are stores where you can find some really good deals on all kinds of articles from furniture to electronics, to clothing, appliances, and virtually anything you can think of. Many large stores also have an ‘outlet’ section. Sometimes outlets have used items, but it’s not very common. Instead what you can find in these stores is brand new items that are either used as samples for people to look at, or that have some minor (often almost invisible) flaws, such as small scratches. For this reason they are sold at very low prices compared to their boxed counterparts.
As Grace mentioned, though, if you’re among the young visitors, or if you’re travelling with your young-adult kids, stopping by Shibuya will likely be worth your time. One of the most famous areas in Japan and the world, Shibuya sports an endless variety of stores of all kinds, brands, and for all wallets. Being also one of the most popular tourist areas, with its bright lights and the enormously famous Shibuya crossing, it’s a lot of fun to hang out in. Hordes of people flood Shibuya every day and you can easily catch a glimpse of the many fashion cultures and sub-cultures for which Japan is famous. Also, let’s not forget the many restaurants and cafes, for when you need a break from all the shopping!
The Hard Rock Café Tokyo, like the ones in the rest of the world is a very interesting place to visit for some fun and unique sights, but you can also do some shopping there with many themed gadgets, shirts, and clothing in general.
Ueno is both one of the most popular areas of Tokyo and one of the best bargain shopping neighborhoods. If you are in Tokyo you will certainly stop by Ueno for its park (especially beautiful in spring), and its many other attractions, but chances are that you will also love to get lost among the many stands, stores (big and small) from which to buy great souvenirs, mementos, and any kind of articles at very fair prices.
2. Looking for bargains? Ueno
Gina H., a dancer and entertainer, has lived in Japan for 24 years. She knows Tokyo very well and she has some good recommendations for you to go shopping while enjoying your time! “What about Hibiya, Ginza? But it’s very expensive. For more bargains, Ueno. Hiyoshi is good too and also my favorite place to have fun!”
Hibiya (the same area in which the Philippine Festival takes place) and Ginza are some very popular shopping areas, and for good reason! In fact these neighborhoods host stores of all the major brands. Not only will you find sportswear and casual clothing, but also high-end suits and dresses, electronics, jewelry, perfumes and colognes, and whatever else tickles your fancy. This variety, though, comes at a price… Literally.
As Gina mentioned, these areas can be very expensive (of course depending mostly on the brand you choose to purchase) also because of the area itself. Ginza, for example is the equivalent of 5th Avenue in New York (those of you who have visited the city, and maybe even those who only know it by name, will surely understand).
We have another hit for Ueno! This area is generally one of the most recommended ones because of the variety of shopping, and the prices. Definitely go check it out.
Hiyoshi, as opposed to Ginza, is a much less known area, to visitors. While it has a lustrous past as one of the main locations within Tokyo (up to WWII), nowadays it’s lost most of its prestige (but not its shopping opportunities among many restaurants that you will surely enjoy!). This neighborhood used to be “movie town”. Almost all the major film companies had offices here. It used to be, in terms of popularity, the equivalent of Shibuya and Shinjuku today.
Visiting Hiyoshi is like diving into the past, but also it’s a great opportunity to visit unique stores, with a lot of interesting and traditional merchandise, while sightseeing. It’s definitely worth spending a few hours in this neighborhood for your shopping (and it will also be easier on your budget).
3. Seeking souvenirs? Give the 100 Yen shops a look
Cristy R. works in a bakery in Tokyo and has been in Japan for 1 year and a half. She too mentioned Shibuya and Ginza (these areas are bound to be recommended by almost everyone, since they are so famous and enjoyable, especially for tourists). She took it one step further though and recommended some bargain shops.
“I think around Shibuya is good shopping. Also Ginza! But it’s really expensive! For bargains I think Daiso and Sanki. They are cheap and I think the quality is good.”
Daiso and Sanki are two very large franchises in Japan. You’ve probably heard of the ¥100 stores that you can find all over the country. Well, Daiso is a massive 100 yen store franchise with a range of over 100,000 products. That means that you could find almost literally anything in a Daiso store and always for very cheap prices.
How many times does it happen for those of us who like to travel, that all our family and friends ask for souvenirs? So we pack an extra suitcase just to have some room for them, but the other problem is the budget. Well… Daiso (as well as many other 100 yen stores) can help you fix that. Even if you’re not planning to buy much, go take a look at one of the largest stores and you’ll surely consider that a fun experience in its own right when visiting Tokyo.
4. Looking for luxury? Check out Omotesando
Iann H. works for the Philippine Embassy, in the Labor division, and has been living here for almost two years. Despite having lived here for a relatively short time, Iann has a very good insight on the city of Tokyo. He also suggested visiting Ueno, if you’re looking for bargain shopping, but he offered some alternatives to Ginza, if you’re looking for more “high-end brands.”
“If you’re looking for a bargain sale, I would suggest maybe Ueno. But if you’re looking for luxury street ware, maybe you should go to Harajuku or Omotesando, if you’re looking for high-end brands.”
Harajuku and Omotesando are excellent recommendations, not only for shopping but also for sightseeing, and entertainment.
Omotesando is one of the most luxurious neighborhoods in Tokyo. It’s beautiful and the architecture is exactly how you would imagine a metropolis like Tokyo would have: modern and awe-inspiring. It’s also amazing for shopping, but remember what Iann said: it’s all about high-end and luxury shopping. Even if you’re on a budget, though, you might enjoy spending some time there just for the sights.
Harajuku is a colorful and extremely fun neighborhood for the whole family, but especially for younger visitors. It’s the center of Tokyo’s teenage fashion (especially Takeshita Street) and the shopping in the area reflects that characteristic. It is a particularly good suggestion not only because of the number of fashion stores you will find, but also for their variety. Classic stores are right next door to some of the most unique clothing stores you can find in Tokyo. You’ll see fashion for all budgets (a very large Daiso is also in this neighborhood), making this area a must-see for all those shopaholics visiting Tokyo.
The people we met at the Philippine Festival have been extremely helpful and it was a pleasure to talk to them. Hopefully their tips for travelers (especially those among you who are visiting for the first time) will be a good starting point while planning your trip.
As always, though, while following the recommendations, don’t forget to explore and immerse yourself in the beautiful vibe of the many fashion districts of Tokyo!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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