Generally speaking, no matter what you are looking for, Tokyo has it, and while you can purchase a wide variety of products in just about any district across the city, there are a number of areas that are known for specific goods.
Akihabara (the “Electric City”) – Known by Japanese and foreigners alike to be Tokyo’s center for all things electronic. Audio and visual components like televisions, stereos, and region-free DVD players can be found within just about any store within this district. But Akihabara is also known for being the computer capital of Tokyo – from the biggest brands in off-the-shelf computers, to niche components for those that like to build their own, Akihabara is a one-stop location, for whatever your computing and gaming needs might be.
Ginza – Known as the most luxurious shopping district in the world, Mitsukoshi, Matsuya, Seibu, and other major department stores have locations here, as does the Apple Store, Gucci’s flagship store, Tiffany’s, and the famed Ito-ya stationery store. Musicians and music lovers alike visit the Yamaha store where music across all genres is available, and a large variety of instruments can be purchased. Ginza is best visited between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays when the main street running through Ginza is turned into a pedestrian mall.
Harajuku and Omotesando – These neighboring districts have little in common besides their proximity to one another. Harajuku is known for its trendy and reasonably priced outlets, including the district’s famed Takeshita-dori which is filled with small independent shops that offer an eclectic array of styles. Just across the street from Harajuku are two of Tokyo’s largest sports stores, “Oshmans”, and “ICI Ishii Sports”, a two-level store focusing on outdoors sports. Omotesando is a trendy shopping district with a sprawling boulevard that is home to a variety of up-market brands including Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, among many others. Kiddy Land is one of the largest toy stores in the country, and the district’s Oriental Bazaar is a favorite with residents looking to acquire an array of both small and large souvenirs. In 2006, Mori real esta te opened the controversial Omotesando Hills, a large shopping mall atop the boulevard.
Roppongi – While Roppongi is more commonly known for its nightlife, the district has seen a dramatic increase in its shopping options in recent years. Beyond the Don Quijote discount 24/7 general store located on Roppongi’s main drag, the Roppongi Hills area offers a large variety of stores, restaurants, and a movie theater, with the cornerstone of the complex being the 54-story Mori building. Tokyo Midtown, located just down the street, opened in 2007 and provides visitors with over 780,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
Shibuya – A relatively inexpensive yet trendy shopping district, particularly with younger Japanese people, Shibuya has several large department and clothing stores, including the Shibuya 109 Building which targets younger women. Tokyu Hands sells just about everything imaginable from lumber, power tools, and other gadgets, to bathroom fixtures, cooking supplies, and much more. Tower Records (which also has a major English-language bookstore on its 7th floor) and HMV both have presences within Shibuya as well.
Shinjuku – Located around the country’s largest train station (Shinjuku Station), are a variety of restaurants and thousands of stores selling all kinds of goods. While Shinjuku continues to redevelop itself – the skyscraper district includes some of the tallest buildings in the city – many department stores have a presence here including Odakyu, Keio, Takashimaya, Isetan and others. Major electronics stores, like in other parts of the city, have large stores here as well, including Yodobashi Camera, and Bic Camera. Also of note is the Kabukicho area which, has a number of restaurants covering a number of cuisines, but is notoriously known as Tokyo’s largest red light district. Visitors unfamiliar with the area should express caution when venturing through its streets.