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Kiertsin Tokyo Hair Salons

When you are staying in Tokyo, finding the perfect hair salon for you might pose a challenge. A Western friend of mine lived in Tokyo for years, and she said that finding hair dressers was especially difficult, since they were all used to working with thicker Japanese hair. Average Japanese salons would fry her hair. So not only will you need an English-speaking hairdresser, you also may need a hairdresser that can cater to thinner Western manes. Here is a list of our top ten salons for foreigners.

 

Tokyo Hair Salons : Assort International Hair Salon

According to Assort’s website, they are, “recognized as Tokyo’s #1 English-friendly hair salon with great services with international experience.” They are located in Minato. A standard cut is ¥6,000, and they also do eyebrows, styling, treatments, color, perms, and make up. First time clients can receive a free treatment and a ¥1,000 discount. Reservations can be made on their website.


Nearest Subway stop: 5 minute walk from Gaien-Mae Station, on the Ginza Line
Telephone: 03-5772-6461
Website
Hours of Operation
Tuesday-Friday: 11:00am-9:00pm (21:00)
Saturday: 10:00am- 8:00pm (20:00)
Sundays & Holidays: 10:00am-7:00pm (19:00)
Closed on Mondays

 

Dude

Dude is another salon that caters to foreigners as they speak English fluently and import hair colors specifically for Western hair. The salon is located in Shimokitazawa, and is known for its laid-back atmosphere. Standard cut prices are ¥6,600 for men and ¥6,900 for women. Dude also does color & cut, highlights & cut, and super blonde highlights & cut. Furthermore, Dude offers free consultations and free color sample tests.


Nearest Subway stop: 3 minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, on the Keio-Inokashira and Odakyu Lines
Telephone: 03-3468-9116
Website
Hours of Operation
Wednesday-Friday: 10:00am-7:30pm (19:30)
Thursday: 10:00am- 8:30pm (20:30)
Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays: 10:00am- 7:00pm (19:00)
Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays

 

Gold Salon Tokyo

Gold Salon Tokyo staffs only foreign hair professionals, all fluent in English. A standard cut is ¥8,500 yen, and a cut without shampoo is ¥5,000 yen. Gold Salon also helps with coloring, straightening, hair extensions, and hair treatments, including keratin and conditioning treatments. They have been featured in Metropolis magazine, and appointments can be made on their website.


Nearest Subway stop: 4 minute walk from Azabu-Juban Station, on the Namboku and Oedo Lines
Telephone: 03-6436-0228
Website
Hours of Operation
Monday, Wednesday-Saturday: 10:00am-8:00pm (20:00)
Closed Tuesdays and Sundays

 

Hayato Salon

Hayato Salon has branches in the USA and the UK, so they have a lot of experience working with thinner hair. Most of the staff is bilingual and have worked in either London or New York. They offer a relaxing environment. Cut prices range from ¥5,000- ¥15,000, depending on the stylist. They also offer straight, wavy, and curly perms, coloring, styling, conditioning treatments, and hair extensions. If you share your new hairstyle to social media, they will even give you a ¥500 discount.


Nearest Subway stop: 6 minute walk from Roppongi Station, on the Hibiya and Oedo Lines
Telephone: 03-5574-8844 or book your Hayato appointment through Voyagin!
Website
Hours of Operation
Weekdays & Holidays: 10:00am- 9:00pm (21:00)
Sundays: 10:00am- 7:00pm (19:00)
Closed Tuesdays

 

QB House

QB House Tokyo Hair Salons

Editor’s note: Ok, I have to step in here. This has been bothering me ever since I published this article, and I can remain silent no longer.

Hi, guys! Yes, I’m speaking specifically to guys. Because men are the only people I have ever seen inside the QB House. This is not a place my wife would be caught dead in.

Have you seen the prices at some of the other places in this article? It’s going to cost you at least 5000 yen to get your hair cut at one of those salons. This is fine if you’re one of those guys with gorgeous locks who is still grinding it out on the dating treadmill. Me? I’m not that guy. I have a sports cut, which requires no maintenance and makes a neat scratching noise when I move my head back and forth on my pillow at night.

That’s why I prefer the QB House. 1080 yen gets you a serviceable cut in 10 minutes or less. Obviously, this is not the place to get fancy–they got a barber chair and a barber and that’s it, friendo. If you’re looking for a shampoo or highlights or whatever, go somewhere else. But if all you want is to keep from having to comb your hair in the morning, this is your spot. Some rudimentary Japanese will be required (“suportsu-cutto”) but you should be able to handle it. And if you can’t? Well, it’ll grow back. Until the day it doesn’t.

QB House barber shops are small businesses, but they’re all over the place. I prefer the one on the Keikyu train platform at Shinagawa Station, but you can find your own here (or have someone find it for you, because the QB House’s only English websites are for Singapore and Hong Kong).

And the “How-to” is even printed on the outside, for your convenience.

QB House Hair 2

And now, back to the fancy places.

 

Shinka

Shinka is an originally Australian hair salon with a branch in Roppongi. It serves customers from all around the world, and features happy customer reviews on their website. A regular cut is about ¥6,250 for women and ¥5,750 for men. Shinka also does coloring, perms, airwaves, straightening, hair treatments, highlights, hair styling, eyebrows, and head spas. They will also cut children’s hair for less.


Nearest Subway stop: 8 minute walk from Azabu-Juban Station, on the Namboku and Oedo Lines
Telephone: 03-5575-6768
Website
Hours of Operation
Monday- Friday: 11:00am- 8:30pm (20:30)
Saturdays & Public Holidays: 10:30am- 6:30pm (18:30)
Closed Sundays & the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month

 

Sin Den

Sin Den is a salon that specializes in foreign hair, so no matter what hair you have on your head, Sin Den will accommodate to your needs. Many of their hairdressers are foreign themselves. Located in Shibuya, basic haircut prices range from ¥6,500 to ¥9,500. Discounts are given for children, and special styling is an extra cost. Sin Den also can help you with make-up, bridal packages, hair treatments, hair coloring, and nails.


Nearest Subway stop: 8 minute walk from Gaien-Mae Station, on the Ginza Line, and a 10 minute walk from Omote-sando Station on the Chiyoda, Ginza, and Hanzomon Lines
Telephone: 03-3405-4409
Website
Hours of Operation: Wednesday – Monday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

 

VIP Creative Hair International

Vip Creative Hair International is a foreigner favorite salon, and their website features many positive testimonies from English speaking clients. A haircut for women costs ¥7,000 whilst a men’s haircut is ¥6,000. They will also do styling, color, perms, hair treatments, facial waxing, make up, and eyebrows. Specific directions to the salon can be found on their website.


Nearest Subway stop: 9 minute walk from Hiro-O Station, on the Hibiya Line
Telephone: 03-6408-6132
Website
Hours of Operation
Tuesday- Saturday: 10:00am-8:00pm (20:00)
Sundays & Holidays: 10:00am-7:00pm (19:00)
Closed Mondays

 

Watanabe Hair

Although the website’s English may not be perfect, Watanabe Hair is regarded as one of the top hair salons in all of Tokyo. Women’s and men’s standard cuts are both ¥5,500. Prices may vary based on the stylist, and children’s cuts are discounted. Watanabe also can color and perm your hair.
Address: 3-25-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001


Nearest Subway stop: 9 minute walk from Harajuku Station, on the JR Yamanote Line
Telephone: 03-3405-1188
Website
Hours of Operation
Tuesday- Friday: 11:00am- 9:00pm (21:00)
Saturdays: 10:00am- 9:00pm (21:00)
Sundays & Public Holidays: 10:00am- 8:00pm (20:00)
Closed Tuesdays and the 3rd Monday of the month

 

WEC Hair

Tokyo Hair Salons WEC Hair is a salon located in Ebisu. The owner has worked in London, New York, and on Hollywood movie sets as a stylist. He also speaks English fluently. A regular cut is ¥5940, with discounts for kids. They also do color, perms, straight perms, hair treatments, hair sets and blows, and head spas. Appointments can be made on the website or by calling the salon number.

 


Nearest Subway stop: 5 minute walk from Ebisu Station, on the Hibiya, Saikyo, Tokaido, Shonan-Shinjuku, and Yamanote Lines
Telephone: 03-6277-4344
Website
Hours of Operation
Weekdays: 11:00am- 10:00pm (22:00)
Saturday: 10:00am-7:00pm (19:00)
Sunday: 10:00am- 6:30pm (18:30)

Did we miss anybody? Do you want your salon featured in this space? If so, send us an email and let us know!

Click on the links below for more information on surviving Tokyo in style–

May 31, 2016 0 comment
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When I first started looking around for used bookstores in Tokyo, a number of people told me about Caravan Books in Ikebukuro. But alas, by the time I got around to visiting, it had closed. The owner had moved his business online.

When I received this assignment, I went looking for Caravan’s online store, now known as Infinity Books. A Google search turned up–a bookstore in Tokyo? One I hadn’t been to or even knew about? What madness is this?

At Shinagawa station I transferred from the JR lines to the Keikyu Main Line Rapid Limited Express, heading towards Nishi-Magome. At the next stop (Sengakuji), I switched to the Toei Asakusa line (light red circle) going towards Oshiage (Skytree). I got off at Honjo-Azumbashi station and departed from the A1 exit.

At the A1 exit, a person can turn around and look directly at the Skytree itself. I am not that person. Putting the Skytree to my back, I walked along the sidewalk, passing under a light blue walking bridge that spanned the road. Looking right as I walked, I spotted the gigantic golden turd with which someone decided to mar Asakusa’s skyline. I continued walking until I found the small black sign announcing the presence of Infinity Books and Cafè.

Infinity Books is roomy and cozy, if a little on the dark side. The books are only split between fiction and non-fiction–you’ll find sci-fi novels right next to historical romances and murder mysteries. It sounds like a strange way to organize, but I liked it. You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll find something. And when you find that something, take it to the back of the shop. There are a few tables that are better lit, as well as…a bar?

Yes indeed. Nick Ward, the owner and proprietor, ran a bar (The Fiddler, in Takadanobaba) prior to opening Infinity Books. He keeps Yebisu on tap, the perfect complement for the thinking drinker’s new book. He also ran Caravan Books back in the days before he moved his operation online. “The costs were enormous. The problem was that I was doing the same thing I’m doing now–six days a week, watching a computer screen, waiting for an order to come in. Only there was no one to talk to, no new people coming around. My wife finally told me to get all of the books out of the house, so I opened this place.” As of this writing, Infinity Books has been open for nine months.

Like Good Day, Infinity can’t survive by on-site bookselling alone. Nick gives English lessons and frequently holds events (such as the acoustic jams every second Saturday of the month). He also maintains Infinity’s online presence through Amazon and the store’s web page. Infinity Books takes trades, depending on whether or not Nick wants them; shelf space is limited. If he likes what you bring, Nick offers store credit (around 35% of the resale value) or cash (around 15%).

Inifinity has a rotating cast of characters, most of whom have followed the Yorkshireman from Caravan Books and The Fiddler. In my short time there, I met a pair of Canadian acoustic musicians, a Korean woman who sings classical Japanese songs, and an Irishman who teaches at a nearby university. However, I didn’t meet the ghost. Nick swears that she (it’s a woman, according to the people who have seen her) stomps around the store at night and throws things. Occasionally, she goes upstairs to the apartment building above the shop. “People there have seen her,” he says. He keeps a glass of beer over the bar for her, in case she gets thirsty. So far, she hasn’t drunk it. Maybe she doesn’t like Yebisu.

Nick and I chatted for a few hours about everything under the sun. Don’t be afraid to visit; he likes meeting and talking to new people. Even weirdos, which was a good thing for me.

“So Nick,” I started in on him. “Do you think Hitler had to fight a lot of time travelers?”

“What?”

“You know. You read books about people inventing time travel, and the first thing they think about doing is going back and killing Hitler. Deadpool just did a whole thing on it. It was in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. It even has a TV Tropes page dedicated to the idea. What do you think?”

“I think that Harry Turtledove’s stuff is over in the fiction area.” He nodded at my pint glass. “How many of those have you had?”

WHAT I BOUGHT: Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; I’m constantly giving this book away. I also bought W.E.B. Griffin’s The Hunters, which looked to be something along the lines of Clancy’s Rainbow Six, which I enjoyed. Also, a few beers (800 yen/pint).

WEBSITE: http://www.infinitybooksjapan.com, or keep up with them at their Facebook page.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 1100-2300, Sundays 1100-1800. Closed Mondays.

February 11, 2015 0 comment
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Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen in this fashion. It was at this point that I began thinking that Google Maps wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

maruzen tokyo

Maruzen is a big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shinjuku. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Intros. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive nonfiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

WHAT I BOUGHT: The Oxford Very Short Intro to Prehistory.

WEBSITE: http://www.marunouchi.com/e/shop/detail/2015.
Open daily 0900-2100.

Can’t get enough of bookstores? Visit Derek’s comprehensive review of Tokyo’s best bookstores, both big and small.

February 7, 2015 0 comment
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“I have to go check out all of the English language Tokyo bookstores. The lady at the website assigned it to me,” I kept my gaze low, hoping to avoid the truth-eliciting stare my wife was able to summon during interrogations of this sort.

She knows better. “Bull! You’ll take any excuse to go to a bookstore! You volunteered to do it, didn’t you?”

“No.” But I would have. I have always loved books. I didn’t take up smoking in high school with the cool kids, because buying cigarettes would have cut into my book-buying funds. After I joined the Navy, I didn’t get a tattoo for the same reason. To this day, I’m the only un-tattooed sailor I know. I’m also the only one I know who can quote PJ O’Rourke.

“How much are you getting paid to do this?”

I said a number.

“That won’t pay for everything you’ll buy!”

Also true.

“Oh, go ahead! Don’t bring back a library!”

Can’t promise anything.

 

AMAZON.CO.JP

Amazon delivers almost everywhere, and Amazon.co.jp has a few more features than I expected.

But first, I need an account. The site has the handy “English” option at the top that I’ve come to look for on major Japanese sites, so I switched to that. Other people have told me that they were able to log on to the .jp site with the account they made in their home country. No such luck for me. So, I’ll just make a new account–

Name Pronunciation.

What’s this? Can’t skip it. “Invalid furigana name?” What the hell is furigana? Googled it. Well, there’s something I didn’t know. I typed my name in hiragana in the box, and I was able to register. If you can’t do the same, find a Japanese friend to help you.

I did a search for one of my favorite books, The Tao of Pooh. The book was available, but the site shifted back to Japanese. Was there no way to check out Benjamin Hoff’s classic on Amazon’s site in eigo? Not a problem if you recognize Amazon’s “add to cart” button, but jarring nonetheless. I was able to backtrack a bit and find a “shop in English” section, but difficulties were encountered.

I was able to browse the Kindle section without incident. I did a search for Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket, and the results came up in Japanese (which he probably would have found ironic). Unfortunately, it’s not available in Japan, which can be the case with many things you could normally get back where you’re from.  Clicking on the first entry put me right back into English mode. Weird.

I looked into shipping and handling. Handling is 324 yen per order, and shipping is 514 yen (same day expedited) or 360 yen (Expedited and Scheduled delivery; all shipping is free to Prime members). You can have boxes delivered to a nearby convenience mart instead of your house. But why would you do that? Ok, maybe you are on the run from the law or have sketchy roommates who are always on the lookout for loose Tolstoy. If so, you can have your packages delivered to a nearby Lawsons, Family Mart, or Ministop by selecting “store pickup” under the shipping options. So if you can’t find what you want in any of the Tokyo bookstores we mention below, check online. It’s a sterile experience and not at all like going to one of the real Tokyo bookstores, but if you gotta have it…

Website: http://www.amazon.co.jp/
Open 24-7.

But instructions for Amazon is not why you’re here, is it? Any fool with a bookmark (physical or computer) can find Amazon. I know what you want.

You want that smell. That lovely perfume of of words trapped between covers. You want to roam around a Tokyo bookstore, to browse, and to find something new. Something that you didn’t know existed a few minutes ago but now cannot do without. Think that’s impossible in Tokyo? It’s not even difficult. And I spent two days (and a pretty good amount of cash) proving it.

Tokyo Bookstores

The Library

Have you considered your local library? Most libraries in the Tokyo area have a selection of English books. If you are a resident, you can get a library card with proof of residence (I used my Residence Card). If not, no one minds if you come in to browse. My local library has a few full bookshelves, mostly popular fiction from the past two decades. Do note that if you need some sort of reference material (encyclopedias, language books) that they will be grouped in the reference section, not with the other English books. Maybe not the same selection that you could get at one of the local Tokyo bookstores, but it’s free.

Website: Tokyo library; check your local area for web accessibility.

 

Book-Off

Book-Off is a chain of used Tokyo bookstores that can be found throughout the city and beyond. Normally they sell Japanese books and manga, video game stuff, movies, etc. Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have actually spun off into other areas, such as Hard-Off (stop giggling, it’s for housewares, clothing, home electronics, and the like), used clothing, and an assortment of other reusable materials.

Most of Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have an English section somewhere in their collection, but don’t expect to find much. The books are usually airport cast-offs, bizarre cookbooks from the 90s, novelizations of movies and popular fiction, etc. They have a 108 yen paperback section, just don’t expect to find a great selection.

“And where are the Book-Offs?” you might ask. Well, that’s tricky–if you don’t already know where one is, and you can’t read the Japanese page of Book-Off locations (which, for whatever reason, will not go through Google Translate), you might be out of luck. But not by much, given their selection. But they are common enough that the locals should be able to point you towards the closest location.

 

Infinity Books and Event Space

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity Books

With the demise of The Blue Parrot in Takadanobaba and the apparent dissolution of Good Day Books in Gotanda, Infinity Books is the only game left in town for second-hand English Tokyo bookstores.

Infinity Books is roomy and cozy. The books are only split between fiction and non-fiction–you’ll find sci-fi novels right next to historical romances and murder mysteries. It sounds like a strange way to organize, but I liked it. You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll find something. And when you find that something, take it to the back of the shop. There are a few tables that are better lit, as well as…a bar?

Yes indeed. Nick Ward, the owner and proprietor, ran a bar (The Fiddler, in Takadanobaba) prior to opening Infinity Books. He keeps Yebisu and Bass on tap, the perfect complement for the thinking drinker’s new book. He also ran Caravan Books back in the days before he moved his operation online. “The costs were enormous. The problem was that I was doing the same thing I’m doing now–six days a week, watching a computer screen, waiting for an order to come in. Only there was no one to talk to, no new people coming around. My wife finally told me to get all of the books out of the house, so I opened this place.”

As far as the books go, you can visit and browse in person, or check online by category or the offline search service. Infinity Books takes trades, depending on whether or not Nick wants them; shelf space is limited. If he likes what you bring, Nick offers store credit (around 35% of the resale value) or cash (around 15%). He also frequently holds events (such as the acoustic jams every second Saturday of the month)–great for meeting new people, local musicians, and other book lovers.

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity 2

Infinity has a rotating cast of characters, most of whom have followed the Yorkshireman from Caravan Books and The Fiddler. In my short time there, I met a pair of Canadian acoustic musicians, a Korean woman who sings classical Japanese songs, and an Irishman who teaches at a nearby university. However, I didn’t meet the ghost. Nick swears that she (it’s a woman, according to the people who have seen her) stomps around the store at night and throws things. Occasionally, she goes upstairs to the apartment building above the shop. “People there have seen her,” he says. He keeps a glass of beer over the bar for her, in case she gets thirsty. So far, she hasn’t drunk it. Maybe she doesn’t like Yebisu.

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter ||| Online Store

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Honjo-Azumbashi Station exit A1 (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sundays and Holidays 11am – 6pm. Closed Mondays, open late for events.

 

Tokyo Bookstores : Kinokuniya Main Store Shinjuku

The website lists the Tokyo bookstore as being in the Takashimaya Times Square building, which is easily reached from the New South Exit of Shinjuku station. I go inside, look at the floor guide, and see the Kinokuniya listed as being in the B1. Easy!

Not really. The moment I stepped off the escalator, I knew something was up. As with the basements of most department stores in Japan, Takashimaya Times Square’s basement was a gigantic supermarket. I found a sign pointing to “Kinokuniya” and followed it, where I found…a grocery store?

As it turns out, books are just one part of the Kinokuniya business. I managed to find another sign pointing “to the bookstore” (apparently someone got tired of lost foreigners raiding the vegetable section for the latest issue of The Economist). The sign leading to the bookstore led me to a dimly lit, somewhat scary-looking bare hallway. Strange artwork, not quite graffiti, was scrawled on the walls. No problem, I’ve braved worse for my literary fix. Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted the elevator at the end of the hall. A sign next to the elevator informed me that the foreign books were on the sixth floor.

Strange graffiti on the way to Kinokunia, Shinjuku

Books Kinokuniya is one of the big-box Tokyo bookstores. Inside, the place was indistinguishable from a Barnes and Noble in the US. The elevator opened into an extensive children’s and young adult’s section, meandering into a magazine section with the latest issues of what you’re looking for. Football magazines (American and metric) were next to Newsweek and Time. Next was a large section on comics, both translated Japanese manga and American graphic novels.

Moving on, there were a large number of scholarly works and textbooks on various topics. The “local” section featured the translated works of Japanese authors (the works of Haruki Murakami and Eiji Yoshikawa shelved next to Rashamon and collections of Japanese fairy tales). There were also large sections devoted to books in French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

If you’re looking for it, Kinokuniya Main Tokyo bookstores in Shinjuku probably has it. They have a “Book Import Department”, but no one there could answer any of my questions. Maybe I just caught them at the wrong time, but I got the impression that the staff wasn’t very knowledgeable about what was on the shelves. If you want it, you better know where it is.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (English) ||| Twitter (Japanese)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Yoyogi Station , inside the Takeshimaya Times Square Building, 6th floor (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 20:30 pm

 

Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store

Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen Marunouchi Main Tokyo bookstores in this fashion.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

Maruzen is also big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shibuya. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Introductions. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive non-fiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

Website (English)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Tokyo Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 9am – 9pm

 

Tower Records Shibuya

Leave Shibuya station via the Hachiko exit. Go straight ahead to the busiest crosswalk in the world and look to your right. You should be able to see the yellow “Tower Records” sign down the street.

When I first got to Japan in 1997, Tower Records was the place to go if you wanted any English books and magazines from any Tokyo bookstores. The foreign books section took up the entire seventh floor and had anything you might want. The comics and art books gave that part of the store an “underground” vibe (as much as you can get while shopping at a corporate juggernaut, anyway).

In 2012, the foreign bookstore moved from the seventh floor to the second as part of a remodeling and restructuring. No longer spacious, the bookstore now had to share half of the floor with a cafè. Since then, the selection of English books and magazines has shrunk, encroached upon by Japanese books of similar flavors. This might be a great place to get a popular fiction book for your Japanese friend that you have read in English, but the pickings are starting to get slim. One gets the feeling that this bookstore may not be around much longer.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Youtube ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 11pm

 Know of any Tokyo bookstores that we forgot to mention? Drop us an email so we can add it!

February 2, 2015 0 comment
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The immaculate MoMA Design Store Omotesando is just as it should be, safely tucked away in the basement level of Gyre across from the luxurious Omotesando Hills. But don’t let the fashionable ladies and the MoMA’s “member’s discount prices” scare you off! The MoMA Design Store in Omotesando can offer your Tokyo shopping experience far more than the average museum gift shop can.

Your experience in the MoMA Design Store Omotesando begins as soon as you approach Gyre. Home to old mainstays and fashion newcomers, Gyre’s look is sure to catch your eye. The slanting visuals of the black glass panes draw your eye towards a softly-lit white staircase leading down into the black granite sidewalk. As you glide down the steps and though the blast of air at the door that is oddly reminiscent of the Museum of Modern Art itself, you are greeted to a display of neatly organized trinkets, strangely formed objects, and furniture that is out of this world. Each object has found its own home on a meticulously cleaned white shelf amid equally lovingly selected home decor and whimsical objects.

Although everything at the MoMA gift shop in the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo may not be available in the MoMA Design Store Omotesando location, you will certainly not be left wanting for items that epitomize MoMA’s distinct and well-known artistic flair. And there is no shortage of unique gifts and souvenirs here. Maybe that special little bundle of joy in your life would like a Keith Haring rocking horse? Could you wow your father with a terracotta planter’s pot that disguises a miniature grill? Or maybe your friend deserves a cereal bowl that keeps the milk and cereal separate (for the ultimate crunchy satisfaction)?

No matter what you’re looking for in a gift, the MoMA Design Store in Omotesando will not disappoint. The Museum of Modern Art prides itself in the variety and quality of the art that it delivers to the world and expresses that passion through the offerings at the MoMA Design Store Omotesando. A word of caution to the casual shopper, however. If you are looking to someday visit this fantastic establishment, it is better to do so sooner rather than later. The popularity and novelty of the newest items found in the MoMA Design Store spreads fast among the residents of Omotesando Hills.

MoMa Design Store Omotesando Location Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook (Japanese) | Twitter | | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube | Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: Inside the Gyre Shopping Center, 3-minute walk from Meijijingu-mae Station or 7-minute walk from Harajuku Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: 11am – 10pm, 7 days a week

“Why Go?”: The best designs of modern art, for your home or as a gift!

Click on one of the links below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

October 22, 2014 0 comment
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The original Muji brand made a name for itself with a minimalist, streamlined aesthetic that transformed ordinary objects into pure elegance. Muji’s use of unobtrusive colors and textures in their products has transcended any kind of association with a culture or time period.

At Found Muji in Omotesando, you can find all of the products you love and more. No longer an isolated brand, Found Muji stocks items from around the world that share that streamlined Muji feel. You could buy a set of white bowls with that Muji feel, Muji proper, only to find that they came from Finland. Or you might fancy a pencil and paper set, then discover that it was crafted in Africa.

Despite the new international twist, Found Muji has remained loyal to Muji’s basic design principles, and you know that whatever you buy will be simple, yet a delight to behold.

Found Muji Store Information

Website | Facebook (Japanese) | Online Store

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Omotesando Station; 13-minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

“Why Go?”: Simple and elegant styles for your home and fashion needs.

Click on one of the tags below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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DON QUIXOTE

Don Quixote is one of the few discount chain stores located in Tokyo. It is also one of the few stores to remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But perhaps the most impressive element of Don Quixote is the incredible variety held within the walls of the eight story store. Almost anything can be found lining the shelves of the discount chain. Merchandise fills each of Don Quixote’s floors with seemingly no particular order. Customers often find themselves digging through countless wares as hours pass them by.

Products range from imported liquors to cheap household appliances. From character masks to adult neck pillows. From cheap snacks to cosplay outfits. From air rifles to hair straighteners. Almost anything takes on quite a literal meaning in this immense discount store. In fact an entire roller coaster can be found on the roof of the Roppongi Don Quixote store (although it is not operational due to noise violations). This chaotic assortment of miscellaneous goods strategy makes for an incredibly fun and unique shopping experience for customers of all ages. With such a diverse selection of merchandise, and phenomenally discounted prices, Don Quixote is well worth a trip out to Roppongi.

Photo credit: 307 by Evan Blaser

Address:3-14-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
GPS:35.6624365, 139.73464779999995
Telephone:03-5786-0811

Opening Hours

Monday:24 Hours
Tuesday:24 Hours
Wednesday:24 Hours
Thursday:24 Hours
Friday:24 Hours
Saturday:24 Hours
Sunday:24 Hours
October 21, 2014 0 comment
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Description

 Here is a shop that is located in the heart of Akihabara and is quite famous all around Japan. Traders are very game centri shop that handle games from all different kind of platforms. It can be found in the center of Akihabara. They have the largest stocked of used games, blu-ray, DVD and computer game software store! The types of game that are available in the shop are varied and can range from brand new releases to rare, classic games that are no longer in print.

The name trader originates from the stores main concept, being able to trade your electronics, such as video game systems, computers, and used phones, or most recently your old smartphones! The shop has multiple locations throughout Tokyo, with its most noticeable stores located in Akihabara district. There are multiple trader outlets. Trader has been open for over 15 years.

If you find yourself at Akihabara, keep an eye out for a trader store nearby. The main store is located near the Akihabara station and the easiest to access, but there are numorous trader shops all around akihabara.

Address:3-14-10 sotokanda, chiyoda-ku
GPS:35.7010246, 139.7710383
Web:http://www.e-trader.jp

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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These new concept guesthouses have been increasingly popular and it’s easy to see why. Rather than the usual drab and boring design, facilities and equipment that usual guesthouses have, Social Apartment provides new, modern, and exciting accommodation. Each guesthouse features large social areas with the latest technology (HD TV, game consoles etc.) and plush furnishings.

A variety of room types are available. Buildings tend to mostly have private rooms with shared facilities, but some buildings also have 1K, 1DK and 1/2LDK self-contained apartments available. They are located in a wide range of areas, from central Tokyo to the suburbs, to other cities (such as Kyoto and Sapporo).

May 12, 2014 0 comment
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Borderless House has only been around since 2008 but it is already making its mark and expanding rapidly. It has a great concept of having share houses that are about 50/50 Japanese and foreigners. This is great for people who are trying to learn Japanese and make Japanese friends. Borderless also have an age limit of 35, meaning it is perfect for young people who want to socialize and have fun.

Borderless house has 41 houses in total and 441 beds. There are shared rooms (home to 2 to 6 people) and private rooms available in each house. All rooms come fully furnished and include utilities. Houses are mostly recently refurbished and generally have modern furniture and furnishings. This means they are attractive and comfortable share houses to live in. They range from about 40000 yen per month for a shared room, to about 60000-90000 yen for a private room.

May 12, 2014 0 comment
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