Those looking for a little “retail-relief” need to look no further than just about every city-street in Tokyo. From the inexpensive yet quirky clothing and goods of Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori to the glitz and glam of Omotesando’s sprawling boulevard, no matter what you are looking for, Tokyo has it.
The vast majority of shops and department stores are open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. until about 8:00 p.m., with the exception of some discount general stores, like Don Quijote in Roppongi, which are open 24/7. Most major stores in Tokyo have some English-speaking staff who can be particularly helpful when looking to compare product features. While prices naturally vary depending on quality and product, most residents of Japan (i.e. earning an income that is in sync with Tokyo’s cost of living), will tell you that despite prices generally being quite favorable, some bargain hunting is a must. With that in mind, unlike in some other parts of Asia, price haggling is non-existent.
There are a number of districts known for selling specific kinds of goods, like the infamous Akihabara district, for instance, commonly called Tokyo’s “Electric City”. From audio and visual components, cameras, computers, and game consoles, Japanese and foreigners alike frequent the area for some of the best prices on top-quality electronics products. Clothing can be purchased almost anywhere in the city, but the Shibuya and Harajuku districts are known for their trendy, yet reasonably priced clothing outlets, while Omotesando is known for its very up-market clothing brands. Considering that most people living in Tokyo live in apartments and not single-family homes, do-it-yourself hardware stores are almost non-existent. Tokyu Hands, in the Shibuya and Shinjuku districts, is the one major exception. Tokyu Hands sells just about everything imaginable from lumber, power tools, and other gadgets, to bathroom fixtures, cooking supplies, and much more. For serious souvenirs, many drop by the Oriental Bazaar in Omotesando, while smaller souvenirs can be purchased in the Asakusa district, particularly within the Nakamise shopping area that sits just in front of Sensoji Temple.
In truth, however, there are a number of occasions when foreigners will want to look back home for their shopping needs. This is particularly true with toiletries (since many foreign brands aren’t available in Tokyo), and some clothing as Japan’s sizing is often smaller than to what most expats are accustomed.