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Tokyo Knife Stores Sugimoto

If there’s one thing Japan is known for, it’s the quality of their blades. Tokyo knife stores stock cooking knives, high-end barbering scissors, clippers, and much more. So if you work with a blade, you will want to consider visiting one of the places on our list of Top Tokyo Knife Stores.

Or maybe you’d like to create your own blade? Voyagin can get you in with a genuine Japanese swordsmith so you can forge your own authentic samurai knife.

Tokyo Knife Stores: Aritsugu

aritsugu Tokyo Knife Stores

Aritsugu is one of the smaller stores located in Tsukiji, with a good selection of sashimi knives and kitchen knives.  It is located in the outskirts of the Tsukiji Fish Market, near all the food stands. Maybe you could grab a bite to eat while knife-shopping!

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (Click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 6am – 3pm

 

Kama-Asa

Tokyo Knife Stores Kama-AsaKama-Asa, located on Kappabashi Street, is the largest knife store on this list. Though their knife collection is what makes them special, they also hold a wide variety of household goods such as plates, chopsticks, strainers, and many other Japanese cooking tools.  Kama-Asa can also make customized knives for individuals who have certain specifications or just want a unique knife. And on the second floor is a museum which shows the store’s history!

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (English and French) ||| Instagram

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat (9:30am-5:30pm) Sun or Holiday (10am – 5:30pm)

 

Kamata

Tokyo Knife Stores KamataYou can’t miss Kamata–along with the huge knife sign, they have two small Kappa statues in front of the store. Though their small is smaller than most, they have one corner facing the streets dedicated to showing passersby the process of making a knife. You watch as their blacksmiths create and sharpen knives right in front of you. Many are designed with waves, flowers and other iconic Japanese symbols. The owners of the store are very friendly, English-speaking, and assist their customers in getting their knives home via the mail or through airport security by way of a Letter of Consideration.

Website (English) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 6pm. Occasionally intermittent closings; check website for details

 

Kanesoh

kanesoh Tokyo Knife Stores

Kanesoh is located in the heart of Asakusa, on the outskirts of Senso-ji temple. This Tokyo knife store attracts many customers, mostly globetrotting chefs and knife enthusiasts. Although famous for their knife collection, they also make other items with stainless steel such as scissors, carving tools, chopsticks and even tweezers!

Website (Japanese only) ||| Online Store (Japanese only)

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

Hours of Operation: Open daily 11am-7pm

 

Kappa-Bashi

The designs of the knives at Kappa-Bashi have an antiquated feel. The handles are made of wood and there are no designs on the blade. Their knives range from small to katana size. When I entered, the store was packed with people asking about how they make the knives and asking to see them. The owner of the stores knows a little English, which will help with your purchase.

Website (via Google Translate)

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

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5:30pm

 

Koshi no Ittou

Tokyo Knife Stores Koshi no IttouOne of the smaller Tokyo knife stores in Kappabashi Street in Asakusa, Koshi no Ittou is a simple store that offers a variety of goods made of stainless steel – nail cutters, tweezers, carving tools, knives and even gardening tools!  Interestingly, though most of the knives on display are theirs, a couple selections of knives are from other knives stores around Japan, put on display. The prices are lower, but the quality is on par with the other Tokyo knife shops along Kappabashi Street.

Website and Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 5pm

 

Masamoto-Sohhonten

Tokyo Knife Shops Masamoto SohUnlike most Tokyo knife stores, which are located in Asakusa or Tsukiji, Masamoto-Sohhonten is located in Honjo-Azumabashi (one stop from Asakusa).  The store eschews the old-fashioned look for a more modern aesthetic, and is located on the first floor of an office building. Their knives are simply forged, with unique wavy designs on the upper end of the blade. These knives are high-quality issue, and the owner is both quite knowledgeable about knives and an excellent English speaker.

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Honjo-Azumabashi Station (Toei-Asakusa Line)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5pm

 

Sugimoto

Tokyo Knife Stores SugimotoSugimoto is the biggest out of all the Tokyo knife stores found in Tsukiji. They have the largest variety of knives in the area, ranging from simple kitchen knives to the professional-grade knives and on to the artistic pieces. This store is actually located inside the Tsukiji Fish Market. You can’t miss it due to its size and the very welcoming owners.

Website (English) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 7am – 4pm

 

Tougen–Masahisa

Tokyo Knife Shops Tougen-MasahisaTougen-Masahisa is a small custom Tokyo knife store where the knives are made on-site. The store has shelf after shelf of simple but effective blades.

Website (English) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 5am – 3:30pm

 

Tsubaya

Tsubaya is one of the oldest Tokyo knife stores on Kappabashi – a very small place with a whole lot of history. Their knives are works of art, with unique designs and name customizations. They’re so old-fashioned that they don’t even have a website–but they have a great reputation nonetheless, as this review will tell you.

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

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5:45pm

 

Tsukiji-Masamoto

Tsukiji-Masamoto is a knife store located in the outskirts of the Tsukiji Fish Market – as you exit the station and approach the market, it is probably the first store you will see. The workers inside are making the knives right in the middle of the store. As you enter, you notice many pictures of famous chefs with the Tsukiji-Masamoto knives in their hands. Their knives are primarily for slicing fish, but they also carry a selection chef’s knives. One of the stranger things about Tsukiji-Masamoto is that they accept US dollars and Euros as well as Yen. But with knives like this, we can see why you would be in a rush to get from the airport.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (via the Toei Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 6am – 3pm

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

December 2, 2016 0 comment
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http://dev.enablejapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Tokyu-Hands-Shibuya.jpg

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Hello, Tokyo travelers and fellow enthusiasts! Do you need to pick up or replace one of those little travel necessities, like a bag or a raincoat? Are you looking for some uniquely Japanese gifts and souvenirs, but don’t know where to go? Or do you just need a place to rest and re-caffeinate while you check your email? You don’t just need a hand, you need a Tokyu Hands Shibuya!

The Tokyu Hands Shibuya is a conveniently-located clearinghouse of all of your travel, souvenir, and gift-giving needs. It is one-stop shopping for your needs as well as for those odd little Japanese items that your family sees on TV and the Internet. Here you can pick up the sort of gifts that will thrill your friends without busting your budget.

And for your convenience, Tokyu Hands Shibuya offers free wifi and a place to rest with their Hands Café. Take a rest and plan the next part of your trip while updating your Facebook photos!

EASY SHOPPING

Are you nervous about communications barriers? Don’t be! Tokyu Hands Shibuya has English speakers on staff, so if you get in a bind there’s always someone to help with selections, price lookups, and helping you with your purchases.

And as a tourist, it gets even better—you get a 5% discount on selected items by showing your passport at the Information Counter on Floor B2C. There, you will receive a 5% discount ticket to redeem at the time of purchase, so be sure to visit before you are ready to check out! Tokyu Hands Shibuya is also a Tax-Free Shop, so after you make your purchase you can take your receipt back to the same Information Desk on Floor B2C and have the sales tax refunded! If you’re thinking of buying an expensive souvenir of your trip, Tokyu Hands Shibuya is the place to look!

What if everybody meets you at the airport when you return home? Tokyu Hands Shibuya offers free gift-wrapping, so you can start handing out the souvenirs right away!

“All that sounds great,” you think, “But do I really want to carry all of this stuff around until I get back to my hotel?” Tokyu Hands thought of that, too! For a 450 yen fee, the store offers shipping to your Tokyo-area hotel.

TOKYU HANDS SHIBUYA TOP TEN SOUVENIRS AND GIFT ITEMS

Tokyu Hands Shibuya was kind enough to give us a list of the top selling items purchased by tourists during their trip to the store. If you don’t see anything that catches your eye here, don’t worry! The Tokyu Hands Shibuya is a gigantic store full of items with that certain Japanese style. Come take a look!

Tokyu Hands Tokyo Japan Cards

10. Kyukyodo Hagaki Postcards: These elegant postcards feature Japanese scenery and are the perfect way to keep in touch with the people back home. 86 yen per card.

9. MT Colored Masking Tape: This multicolored and multi-patterned brand of masking tape is perfect for use in a wide variety of art and decorating projects. Starts at 108 yen per roll.

8. Suntory Whisky 17 Year Miniature Bottles: You may think “Scotland” when you think whisky, but Suntory in Japan is consistently winning awards for both their single malt and grain offerings. You can sample a mini-sized bottle of this fine spirit at 907 yen for a 50ml bottle.

7. Mindwave Stick Markers: Sticker markers with a whimsical Japanese theme for that super-organized person in your life. 378 yen per pack

6. PureSmile Face Masks: Made in Korea and highly regarded by Asian women, these face masks are popular for their skin-brightening and moisturizing abilities. Bloggers such as Louise Hung at xojane have even tried them out, so pop on over and see what they have to say! 108 yen per pack.

5. LuLuLun Facemasks: An elegant facemask from a Japanese cosmetics maker, designed for daily use. Other cosmetics from this brand are also available. Starting from 324 yen per pack.

4. Ukiyo-e Series Utamaro Line Collagen Facemasks: A facemask for lovers of both beauty and the art of the “floating world.” You can keep them to display the art or until you use them, but either way they are a bargain at 129 yen per pack.

3. Iwako Erasers: I know you’ve seen these—tiny eraser packs in the shapes of sushi, bento boxes, animals, and others. You can buy a small pack of three assorted eraser shapes for 50 yen per pack, perfect for kids and kids-at-heart.

Tokyu Hands Shibuya Tokyo Japan Skin Care Masks

2. Isshin-Do Honpo Design Facepacks: Moisturizing and beauty doesn’t have to be all serious, all of the time. Isshin-Do Honpo facepacks come in a variety of styles, from Kabuki to animals to Marvel characters and even KISS designs. Starting at 430 yen per mask, they are great gifts for the beauty-conscious who still like to have a little fun.

Tokyu Hands Shibuya Tokyo Japan Pens1. Frixion Ball Pilot Pens: As a writer myself, I love the feel of a good pen. Frixion Ball pens are multicolored and erasable, allowing you to switch colors or eliminate errors as desired. Pens start at 194 yen for a single color. Make sure to pick up a few refills (sold next to the pens) to make your gift last longer!

TOKYU HANDS SHIBUYA LOCATION INFORMATION

Website | Online Store (Tokyu Hands official)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit)

 

Hours of Operation: 10:00 am – 8:30 pm daily

“Why Go?”: Pick up uniquely Japanese souvenirs and gifts before your return home!

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

April 11, 2016 0 comment
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3D Statues Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

“Nice statues,” I said to my photographer. “They’re very detailed, almost like… ‘by God Eliot, it is like a photograph from life!’’’

3D Statues Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

“What are you talking about?” my photographer asked, snapping photos. “And my name is Andrew, not Eliot.”

“These statues! They’re actually 3D photographs!”

And they are! On the 6th floor of the Shibuya LOFT is the LoftLab 3D Studio, where you can get dressed and strike a pose in front of a circular setup of 102 high-speed cameras. After that, LOFT’s technicians will edit your photo and print a statue of you using one of their state-of-the-art 3D printers!

3D Statue LOFT Tokyo Japan

“But how can I get one of these for myself?” you ask. Well read on, and we’ll show you how it’s done!

STEP 1 – THE APPOINTMENT

It is better to make an appointment for this experience. It might be possible to get in without an appointment, but what if you can’t? Wouldn’t that be awful? To prevent disappointment, ask your hotel concierge or a Japanese friend can help you make a reservation for your 3D photographic experience at the following Tokyo-area LOFT locations—

Shibuya Loft 3D studio (TEL 03-3462-3863; reservations accepted 10:00 am – 9:00 pm daily)

Yūrakuchō Loft 3D studio (TEL 03-5223-6210; reservations accepted 10:30 am – 8:30 pm daily)

STEP 2 – GETTING READY

Each LoftLab 3D studio has a waiting and dressing room, where you can get yourself ready for your 3D statue debut. What, you’re going to go in your street clothes? Where’s the fun in that? There’s nothing to stop you from putting on your wedding dress, or your James Bond tuxedo (complete with martini), or you ski suit and snowboard. Or your Mario costume!

3D Statue LOFT Tokyo Japan Mario

Do you see that? That is not a Photoshop. That is what one of these statues looks like up close.

For your photo, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one subject. You and that special someone can be photographed together and preserve that moment forever.

3D Statue LOFT Tokyo Japan

And the LOFT at Yurakucho has a special deal for those of us with furry friends. Thanks to the high-speed cameras, you and your best four-legged pal can be in a statue together! Pet photos and statues are only available at the Yurakucho LOFT by appointment, so make sure to call and make an appointment beforehand.

STEP 3—STRIKE A POSE!

It’s ok to just pose, but c’mon! When is the next time you are going to be able to get a statue of yourself made? Go ahead and strike a kung fu pose! Or if you are into more active pastimes, the LoftLab 3D Studio’s cameras can capture you in action with a soccer header, puck flip, or baseball catch.

STEP 4–PAYING FOR IT…

At all LOFT locations, you get a discount of 5% off your purchases (over 1080 yen) just for shopping there! Just show your passport at the counter to claim your discount. Also, all three LOFT locations are registered Japan Tax-Free Shops. After checking out, take your receipts and passport to the Tax Refund Counter to have the tax portion of your purchase refunded. No waiting in line at the airport!

STEP 5—WAIT FOR IT…

It may seem disappointing, but it takes a fair amount of time to for one of LoftLab’s 3D printers to build your statue. But never fear! LOFT will ship your statue to you approximately three weeks after the photo is taken. But think of it this way—a few weeks after you return home, you can get a present from yourself from Japan!

STEP 6—DISPLAY PROUDLY!

And what will you do with this stunning masterpiece? Statues of children (at the varying stages of their lives) are great gifts for parents and grandparents, and a collection of family members will be a wonderful memento of your trip. And if you get really crazy with costumes, you’ll be able to play “Where’s Waldo?” by inserting yourself into your action figure collection. Just be sure to avoid placing your statue in sunlight and keep it away from water.

And think of it—if it’s already possible to make a 3D statue of yourself, how long will it be before a 3D printer can make figures with articulated joints? With molded hands and crazy 3D printed accessories and a Kung Fu grip? In a future visit, it may be possible to get an action figure of yourself. Now there’s some souvenir technology we can all appreciate.

LoftLab 3D Studio Location Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Stations:

Yūrakuchō LOFT: 3-minute walk from Yūrakuchō Station (reachable via the Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Yamanote Line, and Tokyo Metro Yūrakuchō Line)

 

Shibuya LOFT: 7-minute walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit) (reachable via the Yamanote Line)

 

Hours of Operation: Yurakucho LOFT 10:30 am – 9:30 pm daily; Shibuya LOFT 10:00 am – 9:00 pm daily.

Estimated Price: Varies depending on pose and accessories; see price guide for details

“Why Go?”: Get a 3D statue to put on your mantle!

March 25, 2016 0 comment
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(photos and video by Yingqian Zhao and Andrij Dynko)

You forgot again, didn’t you? Didn’t we warn you about this last time? You were having so much fun on your Tokyo adventure that you didn’t remember to buy gifts for the people back home until it was almost too late. Now you only have a few hours and you need to get some nice souvenirs, and fast!

No problem! If you can find the busiest intersection in the world at Shibuya Crossing, you are mere steps away from the solution to your omiyage dilemma. All you have to do is walk a six minutes from the Hachiko exit of the Shibuya JR. All of your souvenir and gift-shopping can be done in one trip to the fabulous Shibuya LOFT!

Shibuya LOFT’s Top Ten Souvenirs and Gift Items

So what treasures does Shibuya LOFT have to offer the discerning traveler? With the vast array of offerings, it was difficult to pick only ten things to recommend. Even if you don’t see anything here that strikes your fancy, make the trip anyway! It’s easy to get to, there are many discounts for tourists, and you’re certain to find a delightful surprise.

10. Character Items. In the souvenir shop on the 6th floor, you can get the Japanese interpretation on characters both foreign and domestic. The usual suspects of the Japanese animated world are there (Doreamon, Dragonball, etc) as well as the Japanese take on foreign characters.

Huchiko Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

Do you know who this is? This is Koppu no Fuchico, a cute little office lady that hangs from your coffee mug or tea cup (if you are unfamiliar with Koppu no Fuchico, you can see an explanation here). She and other cup hangers-on are popular with tourists, and they won’t bust your budget at 500-800 yen per figure.

Teapot Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

9. Teapots. A simple gift from a country that knows their tea. Options range from the durable simplicity of the iron teapot to beautifully-decorated traditional models.

8. Chair Socks. You know how some people put tennis balls on the four legs of chairs to avoid scratching up the floor? Well, Japan came up with a more elegant solution that won’t send your dog into a frenzy. Chair socks protect your hardwood or tile flooring and gives your friends and neighbors something to shake their heads at. What will those crazy Japanese folks think up next?

7. 3-D Puzzles. 3-D puzzles of iconic Japanese subjects (sword stands, castles, and temples) are popular with tourists. They are packaged flat, making them easy to fit in your suitcase for the trip home.

Knife Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

6. Knives. Japan is renowned worldwide for the quality of their cutting instruments. Shibuya LOFT stocks a number of high-quality cutting implements (both steel and ceramic) suitable for home or professional use. Obviously, you may need to ship these home instead of fitting it into your suitcase, so please make arrangements for shipping before purchasing.

5. Postcards. The inexpensive way to brag about your trip! The first floor has a wide array of Japan-specific postcards to choose from. Send a shot of the Skytree, or a sumo tournament, or maybe one of a cat hanging out at a torii gate! Your hotel concierge will be able to assist you in sending a postcards through the post.

Bento Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

4. Bento Boxes. You’ve seen them on TV, anime, and even in person—and now you can have one of your very own! Styles range from the cute character boxes for children up to the understated elegance of boxes made for adults.

Sumo Notebook Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

3. Stationery and Pens. It’s been stated before that Japan knows how to make beautiful stationery and writing utensils, and the basement of Shibuya LOFT is full of them. Sure, they have the Moleskines and fountain pens, but you can get that at home—this is where you choose from the vast array of notebooks and pens that have that certain Japanese something. Or maybe it just has a sumo wrestler on the cover. Hey, you know your friends and family better than I do.

sake Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

2. Souvenir Sake Barrels. Sake barrels can be a work of art all by themselves. These tiny barrels actually have some liquor in them, so be careful about what you declare for customs! These will look great on a shelf and will make a great conversational piece.

3D Statues Shibuya Loft Tokyo Japan

1. 3-D Printed Statues – Of You! Shibuya LOFT has a 3D printing studio on the 6th floor. Here, you can strike a pose in front of 102 mounted cameras and have a photo-realistic statue made of yourself. It can be expensive, but on the other hand, they have a dressing room—and no one is going to stop you from making a 3-D statue of yourself in your ninja suit! Unlike other products at Shibuya LOFT, these statues can be shipped overseas and require approximately three weeks for delivery. Check out our separate article on the statues here!

Problem-Free Shopping

Are you nervous about being a stranger in a strange land? Don’t be! Shibuya LOFT is six floors and a basement full of Japanese souvenir goodness, and their staff is ready and able to assist busy tourists.

First, you get a discount of 5% off your purchases (over 1080 yen) just for shopping there! Just show your passport at the counter to claim your discount. Also, Shibuya LOFT is a registered Japan Tax-Free Shop. After checking out, take your purchases, receipts, and passport to the Tax Refund Counter on the 6th floor to have the tax portion of your purchase refunded. No waiting in line at the airport! Both of these discounts combined will save you a bundle on your trip.

“That’s all well and good,” you might think. “But how am I actually going to get these discounts? I don’t speak Japanese!” Shibuya LOFT has already thought of that, and each floor has at least one English-speaking staff member to assist you with any questions you have and help you with your purchases. Problem solved!

And your bags? If you aren’t pressed for time and you don’t want to carry a bunch of bags through the streets of Tokyo, Shibuya LOFT can help with that, too! With a purchase of 450 yen or more, the store can ship your purchases to your local hotel (postal fees apply). Shipping in the city is fast, taking only a day to get your packages from the store to your hotel. How fast it gets into your suitcase for the flight home is entirely up to you. Unfortunately, Shibuya LOFT currently cannot ship overseas (with the exception of the 3-D statues).

Shibuya Loft Store Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook (Japanese only) | Online Store (Japanese only; only ships domestically)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Shibuya JR station (Hachiko exit). (Click on the map for walking directions via Google Maps)

 

Hours of Operation: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm daily.

“Why Go?”: For your last-minute souvenir-shopping and gift-giving needs!

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

March 18, 2016 0 comment
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“LINE?” I asked. “The app? They have a store?”

“Yes they do,” the missus replied. She was on it, chatting with several of her cousins. The familiar tone of messages sent and received came fast and furious. She laughed at a sticker emoji that someone sent.

“I don’t get it. It’s a free app, right? You can get stickers, I suppose. But what could they offer that justifies opening a store in Harajuku?”

****

As it turns out, there is a lot more to LINE than just an instant messenger service. The characters featured in the app’s free “stickers” (small bits of artwork that the app’s users can insert into their chats) are so popular that they have spawned their own line of merchandise. On the mobile app, a user can purchase virtual “coins” in order to get premium stickers, themes, and related applications (such as the Disney TsumTsum application, a match-three game which has its own series of mini-cartoons that play on the Disney Channel in Japan). From the application, you can also make international phone calls, call a taxi, or even attach a credit card to the account to make use of LinePay, the app’s new mobile payment service.

The app’s success has spun off into the “Line Offline” cartoon, which follows the adventures of Moon the Salaryman and other LINE characters (you can watch the first episode in Japanese). The popularity of the characters led to the opening of the LINE Friends stores, which feature character merchandise and even exclusive app stickers that you can only get by visiting the store.

****

The Harajuku LINE Friends store was the first LINE store in Japan, and it’s easy to get to. Once you leave Harajuku station’s Takeshita-Guchi exit, cross the street and wade through the super-kawaii!!! crowds on Takeshita Street. If you manage to get through without getting too much fashion on you, you will make it to the other end of Takeshita where it intersects with Omotesan Street. Use the crosswalk to get to the other side of the street, turn right, and keep walking. In about 250 meters, you will run into Brown and Sally.

Brown the Bear is LINE’s primary mascot. He stands next to the door, with a yellow duck named Sally on his head. There are several other characters related to the LINE app inside the door–Brown and Sally again, as well as Leonard the Frog, Edward the Worm, and Cony the White Rabbit. Stop and take a picture with your favorite!

The upper floor is long and narrow, and features dozens of items emblazoned with the LINE characters. Buttons and stamps are up front, along with the cute school gear for kids to show off to their classmates. On the wall on the right hang sweatshirts of the different characters, and you can pull the hood up to wear froggy eyes or a duck bill. If you’re looking for something relatively inexpensive to give the LINE fan in your life, this floor probably has it.

At the opposite end of the store is a giant stuffed Brown, sitting in FAO Schwarz fashion, ready for pictures. Go ahead and give him a hug. I did, once I made sure no one was looking. Also in this area are a number of framed artworks called “Memories of Brown,” which are apparently scenes from the cartoon. My favorite was the one where Brown, his expression unchanged from his normal small-eyed, unsmiling stare, punches a crab man in the face. I’m sure there’s a great story behind that altercation.

Next to the giant stuffed Brown is a set of stairs leading to the lower level. The downstairs section of the LINE Friends store is a little more upscale–dishes, models, and other fancier merchandise. Fancier prices, too. But even if you’re just window-shopping, you can visit Brown’s Room at the back, featuring the bear relaxing in his chair. On the wall behind him are a number of smaller Browns, each wearing a different outfit. Judging by the reactions of the girls snapping picture after picture, this was the cutest thing ever.

Summary: If you are a fan of all things LINE, this is a must-stop during your trip to Harajuku. If you are a fan of the application, you can stop by the register to collect one of the exclusive virtual stickers that you can only get at the store. Be sure to break them out during your next LINE chat, so everyone knows that yes, you were fashionably there.

Location: Omotesando St., Harajuku

Hours: Weekdays 11 AM to 9 PM; Weekends and Holidays: 10 AM – 9 PM

Website (English): http://fs.line.me/en/#index, or on Facebook (Japanese) at https://www.facebook.com/lfs.harajuku?ref=ts&fref=ts

July 4, 2015 0 comment
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Wa Space Exterior, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

The 4% iron mix is important. When fired, the clay piece will take on a gorgeous black and gold color, becoming a suitably striking plate upon which to serve sushi or other delicacies. Nearby is another of the artist’s works, a bowl with a similar mixture of clay and copper. This one changed color to a mellow light green when it was fired.

Clay artist and potter Kei Kawachi shows me several of his other pieces. The glossy ones are fired and glazed, he explains. The others pieces are matted, suitable for everyday dishware. In fact, that’s how he uses it; he shows me pictures of plates he has made, laden with his wife’s cooking. Beautiful and practical, as can only be expected from the man whose mugs have been declared “superior tools for everyday living” by the Foundation of Craft Centre Japan.

Pottery at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

Nearby, yuzen artist Itsuko Kasahara’s creations are on display. Yuzen is the art of dyeing designs into kimonos, but she is not showing kimonos today. Rather, the bolts of cloth are delicately inked with traditional designs, as yuzen artists have done for centuries. Kasahara prefers flowers and other pastoral scenery, but does not limit herself to them–one of her other major pieces depicts scenes from The Tale of Genji, a Japanese folk tale.

Yuzen and pottery are just a few of the many things that are promoted by Wa Space. Since their opening in 2012, they have hosted events ranging from sumi-e (ink wash paintings) and DIY/recycle artists at their space in Akasaka, to bazaars at the Tokyo American Club. Wa Space’s staff has traveled all over Japan, searching for traditional craftsmen in order to feature their unique creations at their gallery. “It’s all about developing relationships,” says Matthew Ketchum, the Wa Space’s PR representative. “Most of these craftsmen don’t want to work with you if they don’t know you. So we go out into the rest of the country and meet people, make friends, and hopefully they’ll introduce us to other artists.”

Artisan goods at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

Although they do sell decorative items, most of the pieces available from the Wa Space are of a practical nature. “Modern simplicity that can be readily integrated into your life,” is their motto, and it is reflected in their product selection. Matthew shows me a number of designs, ranging from the simple practicality of a clay sake set to intricately ground and layered kiriko drinking glasses. A nearby section features hand-dyed noren from Studio Garaya of Tochigi prefecture; a glance in the other direction reveals the soft glow of the chochin lanterns from Suzumo, far from their origins in Mito City in the Ibaraki prefecture.

But adhering to principles of modesty and simplicity doesn’t mean that the present and future are ignored in favor of the past. Another display contains the works of an artist who makes decorative cases for iPhones and iPads, and yet another shows travel coffee mugs designed for our on-the-go modern lifestyle. The inclusion of these modern pieces may give an observer pause, but it fits Wa Space’s philosophy of understated beauty matched with practical use. If you use an object in your daily life, shouldn’t it be elegant as well as functional?

Pillows at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

In a time of big city lights and electronic distractions, the Wa Space finds a place for those objects whose refinement allows them to fit in any era. Whether you are looking for graceful decorative art for your home or for an elegantly functional souvenir of your trip, the Wa Space can help. And even after you return home, you can look back at their website, and see who they have met since you left. Wabi Sabi style is a bottomless pool—much beauty remains to be created and be discovered. And if it comes from Japan, you can be sure that the Wa Space will eventually find it.

 

Pottery at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

Glasses at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

 

Handmade goods at Wa Space, Akasaka, Tokyo

Artist Kei Kawachi (Japanese)
FB: https://www.facebook.com/kei.kawachi
http://kawachikei.jimdo.com

Itsuko Kalahari’s
Website: http://itsuko.sakura.ne.jp

Wa Space Location Information

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Online Store

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Akasaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: By appointment only. Make appointments via this link.

“Why Go?”: Traditional gifts and home furnishings created by Japanese craftsmen!

For more shopping options in Tokyo, follow one of the links below–

April 11, 2015 0 comment
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Japanese Kit Kats

You’ve done it again, haven’t you? Here you are, living the high life in Tokyo, and a sudden realization stops you dead in your tracks. Christmas is coming, and you haven’t even started shopping for your friends and family back home.

Worse, they know where you live. They’re expecting something a little extra. Something cultural, strange, or having that unique Japanese whimsy. Nothing too far out there, but something they can show their friends and have a “wow, neato!” thing to talk about.

You, however, do not want to go broke while not ruining the holidays. But where do you go? What do you get? And once you get it, how do you get it to your giftee? Never fear, I am here to help! There are plenty of gift-giving options that won’t make your wallet beg for mercy.

DON QUIJOTE

My go-to place for the weird and wonderful of Japan. I go to the store in Akihabara, but “Donki” has locations all over Tokyo and the rest of Japan (Click here for their store locations).

Toe Socks: I don’t really get these, but the women I know love them. They are exactly what the name implies: socks with individual spaces for your toes. The come in all kinds of colors and designs, so customize for that lady in your life. ¥500-¥1000 a pair, depending on how fancy you get.

Don Quijote Army men

Gundam Army Men: Remember the little green army men? If you’re my age, you remember playing with them; if younger, you’ll remember them from “Toy Story.” Well, a company called Happinet makes army men in Gundam and Zaku shapes. Are they for kids? Maybe, but I’m in my 30s and I’m still PEW PEW PEWing with the ones I bought. ¥600 for a pack of eight figures.

Robot Fishtank: Giving a pet as a gift is a double-edged sword. Dogs are a lot of work. Cats only think of humans as litterbox-cleaners and a food delivery systems. And fish? Well, fish are easy, but they still have to be fed. Unless you get a robot fish, in which case you only have to change the battery once it runs down. Robot fish come in multiple colors, shapes, and styles. Some even do tricks! If your intended giftee doesn’t already have a tank (putting Terminator Fish in the same tank as normal fish is not recommended), you can get him or her a racetrack-style tank so they can watch the next phase of piscine evolution do laps. “Yes, everybody in Japan has a robot for a pet,” they’ll say to their friends. ¥400-¥1000 for a fish (depending on style), ¥1000 for the tank.

TOKYU HANDS

With numerous locations all over Japan, Tokyu Hands is a great place to find higher-end Japanese goods (see the Tokyo locations at http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en/list/kanto.html). They aren’t as wacky as Don Quijote, but they still have an interesting selection of Japan-specific items.

Christmas Cards: I saw Santa at the sumo basho. I saw a number of them forming a human pyramid to give gifts to the Buddha at Kamakura. Still others were taking in the sights at the Kaminari Gate in Asakusa. For Christmas cards with that uniquely Japanese feel, it’s hard to do better than the selection at Tokyu Hands. And at ¥200 per card, they won’t bust your budget.

Kurumi at Tokyu Hands

Canned Luxury Foods: Just because your friends are out camping doesn’t mean that their culinary tastes should slide into a similarly primitive state. What are they going to do, eat burned meat? Like savages? Pshaw. With this fine selection of luxury canned foods, one only needs to pop the lid on a can of Bo-LóGne brand kurumi danish (or similar canned product) and eat like a sir until one returns to civilization. ¥400 and up.

Tokyu Hands Stationary

Stationery: Tokyu Hands has a vast selection of stationery and writing implements to choose from. Everyone loves the feel of a good pen, and there are numerous Japan-themed diaries, notebooks, journals, etc. to choose from. ¥400 and up, and leave the Japanese sticker on it so they can tell everybody where it came from.

TOKYO STATION FIRST AVENUE AND DAIMARU

At the Yaesu Exit, you will find stairs leading down to the Tokyo Station First Avenue, right on “Character Street.” Here you can visit shops devoted to various characters that have appeared in anime or on Japanese TV. The NHK Store covers souvenirs based on Domo-Kun and other children’s shows, while the Jump Shop across the hall is for fans of “Naruto”, “Bleach”, “Dragonball”, and the like. Long-time characters like Snoopy, Ultraman, and Hello Kitty have their own shops.

NHK Domokun, Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit

Lego Click Brick Store, Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit

If toys are what your intended giftee is interested in, First Avenue also features a Lego ClickBrick store and a Tomica shop. Past these are stores dedicated to the addictions of two different generations–a Pokémon store for the youngsters and a Tamagotchi store for us older kids. The Tamagotchi store even has a little museum up front, so you can see with your own eyes the little electronic devices people distracted themselves with before cell phones came along.

Tamagotchi Store, Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit

Japanese Kit Kats

Walking through the First Avenue will eventually land you at the Daimaru. Here, you can find the Kit Kat Chocolatory and pick up the gift of a familiar candy in strange flavors (¥430 and up). Right next to the Chocolatory is a candy station called Pappa Bubble, specializing in candy canes of various flavors (¥500 and up). If those don’t excite you, there is a large food market nearby where you can purchase all manner of sweets already boxed and ready for gift-giving (price varies).

Pappa Bubble Candy Shop, Tokyo

English map and floor guide at http://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/pdf/floorMap_foreign.pdf .

DAISO SURPRISE BOX

Do you have a family to buy for? Short on funds? Here’s a fun thing to do.

Go to the local Daiso or 100 Yen store. These aren’t like the dollar stores back home–the low-cost shops in Japan have some amazing stuff. Get a basket and fill it up with things you can’t find in your home country. Go to the food section and get things that have no English labels–canned whale meat, chip bags with scary-faced peppers on the package. Canned coffee and other strange-looking drinks. Sour plum candy. My family had a great time trying to guess what was in each package or drink before trying them, often with hilarious results.

Also, add a few of the interesting doodads that you find on the other shelves. The red-and-green study ruler (along with an explanation of how it works) is great for students. Magnetic or peel-and-stick whiteboards are useful to anyone. And the ramen bowls are fantastic gifts–they look great, and there’s no reason anyone needs to know you only paid 100 yen for them.

Daiso and 100-yen stores are everywhere. If you’re not sure where to find one, the Japanese National Tourism Organization has a handy guide to finding these stores around the Yamanote line stops at http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/travel/practical/100yen.html. If your relatives decide they like what you got them, they can shop online at http://www.daisojapan.com to get more.

GETTING IT IN THE MAIL WITH JAPAN POST

So now you have the perfect gifts. But how do you get them to their intended recipients back home?

Japanese post offices are almost as ubiquitous as police kobans. They are easily recognized by their orange color scheme and “T” symbol. Before you go to your local yūbinkyoku, you can check the shipping rates and the estimated time for delivery by entering the relevant information about your package, postcard, or greeting card in their calculator at http://www.post.japanpost.jp/cgi-charge/index.php?lang=_en. To mail packages overseas, you will also need to fill out customs forms and International Parcel Labels; if you are unsure how to do this, Japan Post has a handy English guide at http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/use/index_en.html.

Japan Post is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, so plan your trip accordingly.

So now you have your presents and your greeting cards, and now you know how to navigate the post office. Time is getting short, so get your Christmas cheer jammed in the mailbox soon before it’s too late!

December 17, 2014 0 comment
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ASOKO

Asoko Harajuku Tokyo Japan

When you are in Japan, more often than not, you are probably looking for a gift to bring home to your friends and family. Maybe you know exactly what to get your BBQ loving father or that friend who has always wanted something, anything, from Shibuya or that is geisha themed. But what about that one friend or family member who told you to “just get me anything!” This is the metaphorical death sentence of gift shopping. But not to fear! There is a store in Harajuku that will solve all of your gift giving woes! Say hell to Asoko, just off of Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori, this museum of gifts and odds and ends will solve the problem of what to bring back to your friends and family (and maybe bring home a little some for yourself).

As Asoko, you can find a variety of product for the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and everything in between. Think of the items at Asoko like the MoMA Design Store in Omotesando but without the price tag. All the quirkiness and modern flair of MoMA is packed into Asoko but you will leave with a much fatter wallet. What is so great about Asoko is that their smaller items are silly and fun but are just as affordable as their larger items. This store has a wide selection of items to make your home run more smoothly with a touch of fun. Anything from cutting boards to coat hooks to utensils get a fun and whimsical twist! You can also pick up items for the office or your car’s interior like rear view mirror charms or little functional knick knacks for your desk. Always been jealous of the stylish umbrellas you have seen around Tokyo? Well you can get and equally cool one at Asoko for pocket change.

Asoko Harajuku Tokyo Japan

If you are at a loss as to what to bring back for your friends and family, and possibly yourself as well, Asoko in Harajuku has plenty of affordable, modern, and fun items that would make anyone happy!

Asoko Harajuku Store Information

Website (Google Translate) | Facebook | Online Shop

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Meijijingu-Mae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Tokyo Metro Fukutoshi Line ); 21-minute walk from Harajuku JR Station (Yamanote Line)

 

Business Hours: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm daily.

“Why Go?”: Gifts and souvenirs that won’t bust your wallet.

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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TinTin

The popularity of Tintin around the world is an absolutely a wonderful phenomenon. The baby faced, blue sweater-wearing hero is a heart-warming presence that has lasted through the decades. For more than 100 years, thousands of kids and adults alike have found solace in the boy detective’s wit and ability to always save the day.

And Japan loves Tintin too! Just past the fabulous Omotesando Hills and down the street from the Tokyo Metro’s Omotesando station is The Tintin Shop where you can find anything and everything about Herge’s creation. No matter your budget, you will be able to find something to take home for yourself or as a gift for your favorite Adventures of Tintin fan!

The shop in Omotesando is decorated with Tintin and his faithful side kick, Snowy, peeking around the corner. Stepping inside is almost like stepping into the comic book itself, with everything popping out in full adventurous glory. Every corner is filled to the brim, so you will be sure to find something whimsical that suits your needs! If your smart phone is feeling a little naked and unadventurous, then be sure to check out the accessories area where you can find cases, themed headphones, and a variety of straps to deck your phone out!

The Tintin Shop has a many daily life accessories as well. You can get character-themed towels, umbrellas, t-shirts, or even a Tintin-themed watch or a tiny Snowy charm bracelet. Unique jewelry and accessories are also available, such as (our favorite) a hat pin with the Haddock insignia.

Fans old and new can discover the adventures of the boy hero through a multitude of media. The shop has reprinted bound books of old Tintin cartoons that you can read again and again as well as DVD box sets of the television series and the movie (in a variety of languages as well). The kids will love the selection of toys and games that range from complex jigsaw puzzles and fluffy Snowy plush toys.

If you are walking in the Omotesando area and are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of one of Tokyo’s best shopping districts, take a trip to The Tintin Shop!

Tintin Shop Location Information

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

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

Map (center) (click on map for Google Map walking directions) (give an address, I’ll make the map)

Hours of Operation: Weekdays 11am – 7pm; Weekends and Holidays 10:30 am – 7pm.

“Why Go?”: A must for the Tintin fan in Tokyo!

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

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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JUMP SHOP

Shonen Jump is a name that is recognizable all over the world. No matter if you are a middle school kid in America or a young adult in Japan, Shonen Jump has probably touched your life and influenced you at some point in your life. Titles like Naruto, Bleach, and Once Piece have become household names without us even realizing it. Manga has graduated from being an underground niche into a lifestyle and life forming influence. Of course you can pop down to your local convenience store or book store and pick up the latest serialization of Shonen Jump, but for the true fans that just won’t do. A dreamland for Shonen Jump fans just opened up in the Tokyo station that can supply you for ages with all the Shonen Jump merchandise you could ever want! The Jump Shop can give you that special piece of memorabilia that you can not find any where else.

The life size One Piece and Naruto plush toys in the window of the Jump Shop make it difficult to miss even in the middle of the busy Tokyo station. Upon entering the Jump Shop you know that you are in manga and anime heaven. WIth the amount of items in the Jump Shop, you are able to deck out every aspect of your life in your favorite character gear. Go to school representing your favorite series with themed folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, and back packs. But school supplies and manga volumes are not all that you will be able to find at the Jump Shop. Based on the story arch happening in any series at the moment, the Jump Shop will reorient their selection in order to be in alignment with the manga’s story line. It is just a small detail that the Jump Store incorporates into their products that ties together the real and created worlds.

Casual or hard core fans of Shonen Jump’s series will find something to love about the Jump Store. Whether it be character goods or a special edition of your favorite manga volume, the Jump Store in the Tokyo station is sure to be a perfect destination for any fan.

Address:1-9-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku Tokyo, JAPAN
GPS:35.6837808, 139.76763400000004
Web:http://www.shonenjump.com/e/jumpshop/

Opening Hours

Monday:10:00 – 20:30
Tuesday:10:00 – 20:30
Wednesday:10:00 – 20:30
Thursday:10:00 – 20:30
Friday:10:00 – 20:30
Saturday:10:00 – 20:30
Sunday:10:00 – 20:30
October 21, 2014 0 comment
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