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Takeshita Street Featured Image, Harajuku Tokyo

Harajuku is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable areas of Tokyo. To visit the area’s trendy streets, full of colorful fashion and endless shopping, is a crucial activity for a trip through Tokyo. Situated right next to the notorious Shibuya, Harajuku is an epicenter of fashion, youth, and counterculture.

But as dazzling as this neighborhood is, it can seem daunting to wade through its madness. While it may be easy to follow the current of a large crowd, Harajuku has certain unique and must-see spots that serve as perfect introductions to the area’s charm and reputation. Three streets in particular, Takeshita Dori, Meiji Street, and Cat Street, are the basis for a guide to Tokyo’s hip and lively Harajuku.

Takeshita Street

With an entrance located across the street and to the left from Harajuku Station, Takeshita Street is a Harajuku landmark, full of the counterculture, quirky Japanese souvenirs and accessories, and trending fashion that defines Harajuku. Often crowded and colorful, Takeshita Dori contains numerous small clothing boutiques and trinket stores. Takeshita Street can seem overwhelming and dizzying, but has so much to offer that it’s hard not to emerge with full shopping bags of unique and totally necessary items.

Takeshita

Crepe Stands – As it’s no question that shopping is a highly physical activity, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty hungry as your day in Harajuku progresses. Make sure to stop by one of the various creperies scattered throughout Takeshita Dori. These colorful crepe stands offer a wide variety of crepes, ranging from desserts to lunch crepes. The best thing about the crepes you’ll find on Takeshita Street (and surrounding its entrance on Meiji Street) is that they are made to go, so you’ll be able to find a quiet corner to enjoy your snack.

Candy A Go Go! – Another place on Takeshita Dori to indulge yourself in food rather than fashion, Candy A Go Go! is a large, colorful, and vibrant candy store that’s hard to miss. It’s usually crowded, a clear indication of just how popular the store’s candy is. Candy A Go Go! is an amusement park for candy. It’s filled with candy of different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. It’s quite easy to leave with not just tons of candy, but some toothaches, as well. It’s a perfect place to pick up some candy that’s unique to Japan.

Small stores and boutiques – Lining Takeshita Dori are tons of boutiques and stores selling a range of clothing and accessories. These stores often carry the latest trends as well as pieces for a more counterculture style. Many unique and affordable items can be found all throughout Takeshita Dori’s small boutiques and stores, and are perfect for achieveing a quirky individual style. Also in many small stores and boutiques are cosplay pieces and accessories, as well as shirts, bags, and even pants sporting Disney and anime characters.

Meiji Street

Meiji Street is a long strip of stores, restaurants, department stores, and boutiques. There are many high-end stores as well as affordable options to choose from. Likewise, Meiji Street offers original Japanese brand clothing and accessories, as well as foreign and Western brands. Walking straight down from the station, you will reach a large intersection. Turning left or right situates you on Meiji Street. It is usually a crowded, bustling street, full of youthful trends and fashion statements.

WegoWego is a popular, fashionable, and lively chain of stores found in Tokyo. Many of the clothes, accessories, bags, and shoes are affordable yet well made. Wego is always up-to-date with the latest trends and styles. Pieces from Wego range from simple and basic to unique and bold. Wego also sells many graphic tees and sweatshirts with quirky designs, patterns, and phrases. You will definitely want to take something home with you from Wego, and one can be found on Meiji Street, right near the large Jonathan’s.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando – This shopping complex is hard to miss. Heading straight from Harajuku Station and reaching the intersection, you will find Tokyu Plaza Omotesando right across the street, situated on the street corner. The complex features several floors of various shopping boutiques, selling items such as women’s clothes, jewelry, and even souvenirs and hobbyist collectibles. There are many different styles to choose from here, as well as a few cafes and coffee shops.

LaForet – LaForet is one of Harajuku’s most recognized shopping complexes. This large department store features a huge selection of shops and boutiques catering to different styles and trends. With a basement level, two half-basement levels, six upper levels, and several half upper levels, LaForet is a colossal shopping building full of vibrancy and youth. It is fairly easy to, sometimes unwittingly, spend many hours in LaForet perusing the vast multitude of shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

Cat Street

Cat Street, Harajuku, Tokyo

Cat Street is Harajuku’s laid-back, quieter shopping street. It runs parallel to Meiji Street and feels more downtown than other areas of Harajuku. Shoppers are usually older, and stores and boutiques are usually more expensive. Cat Street provides a leisurely shopping experience, as it is generally less crowded than Takeshita Dori or Meiji Street, but it is no less vibrant and animated. Alongside chic stores and boutiques are many small cafes for a quick bite to eat. Access Cat Street through its entrance on Omotesando Avenue or through one of Meiji Street’s many side streets.

Beauty and Youth – A sophisticated women’s clothing store, catering to all ages. In addition to women’s clothing, Beauty and Youth also sells jewelry, shoes, and various other accessories. In the store there is also a home goods section, selling many miscellaneous home and interior decorative goods. The store carries the Beauty and Youth label, and other name brands, such as Levi’s, Adidas, and Lee. Beauty and Youth clothing is elegant, sporty, and chic, and while the clothing is expensive, the high quality will ensure they last you a lifetime.

W Closet – A small boutique that sells the trending styles but for more reasonable prices compared to other outlets on Cat Street. With its rustic interior, W Closet has a cool, down to earth atmosphere, much like Cat Street itself. The clothes are simple yet fashionable, complimenting a variety of individual styles and outfits. From jeans to stripe shirts, cropped sweaters to colorful sneakers, W Closet provides a more affordable yet no less trendy shopping experience on Cat Street.

too cool for school – This small makeup store can be found on both Cat Street and Meiji Street. A Korean cosmetics brand, too cool for school sells a variety of makeup and cosmetics in different shades and sizes. The boutique’s eyeliners, mascaras, blushes, and eye shadows are high quality and diverse, complimenting different skin tones and styles. In addition to makeup, too cool for school sells moisturizers, soaps, and facial masks, and the sales employees will let you try the cosmetics from their testing samples.

Harajuku has even more to offer than the shops, boutiques, and food venues listed in this guide. Exploring the multiple winding side streets, small stores, and restaurants is a great way to fully experience Tokyo’s center for trend setting.

Got some extra time to spend in the Harajuku and Omotesando area? We recommend visiting the bird cafe, indulging in some budget-friendly shopping in Omotesando and visiting the oh-so-cute Line Store.

December 27, 2015 0 comment
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Keith Haring Clothing, Tokyo Japan

Updated 2/24/2016: If you are in the Tokyo area and are interested in the works of Keith Haring, you can visit the Nakamura – Keith Haring Collection located in Kobuchizawa (2 hours from Shinjuku station).

UPDATE: While further investigating the Keith Haring Kraze in Tokyo, we found that there are still a few stores stocked with his elusive merchandise that you can check out. After trekking around Shibuya and Omotesando to revisit the stores that we previously reported on, we unfortunately found WEGO’s Omotesando branch has completely sold out of Keith Haring goods and is not planing on restocking. While you shouldn’t walk in expecting to find Keith Haring, the store is still worth checking out, so do make sure to make the trip.

Now in order to best track down Keith Haring products, stick around Shibuya and visit the Uniqlo store located close to Shibuya Crossing mentioned in our original post Keith Haring Kraze. Once you enter the store, head straight towards the back and you’ll find three Keith Haring shirts all for around a bargain of ¥900 available in various sizes.

Keith Haring Goods Shibuya Uniqlo, Tokyo, Japan

Uniqlo Keith Haring Clothing, Shibuya Tokyo, Japan

You can also find some Keith Haring products at Shibuya’s branch of Forever 21 on the 2nd Floor, also towards the back. Although they were strict about taking photos of the merchandise, we were able to investigate and find that they currently carry a Haring tank top and workout tights. As Forever 21 is a popular chain store, it may be worth checking out other branches if you’re in the area.

Keith Haring Forever 21, Tokyo, Japan

 

One note that we discovered while hunting for Keith Haring is that Japanese employees may not understand if you ask if they sell Haring, and will therefore inform you that they don’t carry the brand when in fact they do. For example, in our experience, Uniqlo employees seemed puzzled as to what Keith Haring was, but after exploring on our own we found that they did indeed carry the brand. If you can’t find an English-speaking employee, sometimes it’s best to browse the store yourself and see if they have any in stock. It’s also best to hurry and check out these stores before they run out.

Keith Haring, Tokyo, Japan

Keith Haring, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

 

Keith Haring Clothing at Uniqlo Shibuya, Tokyo Japan

June 7, 2015 0 comment
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Shopping Plaza on Takeshita-dori, Harajuku, Tokyo

Pop icons like Gwen Stefani and movies like Lost in Translation have elevated Harajuku and Omotesando to superstar status. Media portrayal of the area may lead you to expect nothing more than hoards or lolita girls with frilled parasols and layers of petticoats with carousel and cakes themes, or maybe even the darker side of “goth lolita.” But the culture and atmosphere of Harajuku and Omotesando is so varied and deep that a whole day really should be dedicated to it lest you miss something that you will never forget.

Before we get started, check out our video guide to Harajuku!

 

 To begin your journey, exit JR Yamanote Line’s Harajuku Station and start your day with an exploration of Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine tucked away in an enormous swath of trees. An interesting place for people watching, you can often catch sight of a Japanese-style wedding party as you head towards the shrine. Though the shrine itself is often crowded with visitors who have come to pray or buy good luck charms, you can find quiet pockets where you can enjoy views of Shinjuku’s skyscrapers if you take some extra time to explore the nooks and crannies of the shrine grounds.

Meiji Jingu Shrine harajuku and omotesando

Meiji Jingu shrine building, harajuku and omotesando

Hand washing at Meiji Jingu, harajuku and omotesando

Entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine harajuku and omotesando

Omikuji, Meiji Jingu shrine, harajuku and omotesando

Meiji Jingu Shrine harajuku and omotesando

When you feel energized and ready to tackle the vibrant and often jam-packed streets of Harajuku, head back towards Harajuku Station, cross the street and turn left. When you walk through the arch of Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori (with an LED screen to welcome you in full regalia to boot) what will first hit you is not the fashion. Instead it is the sheer amount of pink, on the sides of the buildings and in the shops and on the people.

Shopping Plaza on Takeshita-dori, harajuku and omotesando

The highlights of Takeshita-dori are definitely in the super kawaii lolita and accessory shops that line the street. After stopping by Milk, one of the top lolita shops in Harajuku, head to Body Line, located on the second floor about halfway down the street. Body Line has a long and storied history and a strong and dedicated band of followers. Their clientele knows that Body Line is not a place for cheap deals and steals. Rather, Body Line is a place where you will get the best quality handmade garments around.

Another great spot to hit up on Takeshita-dori is the chain store Tutuanna. This hosiery store has everything from socks designed to be hidden under your high heels to special control top shapewear, plus some of the most unique stockings you will be able to find in Harajuku.

Tutuanna on Takeshita-dori, harajuku and omotesando

If you’re in the mood for a snack, Takeshita-dori is lined with famous crepe shops. We recommend Marion Crepes since it’s been filling happy bellies since 1976, but you really can’t go wrong wherever you stop. Though you can always opt for a savory crepe, doesn’t a warm, freshly baked crepe filled with a slice of cheesecake and ice cream sound so much better? After all, why go to Harajuku if you don’t want to experience the unicorn princess lifestyle? So dig into all of the parfaits, flavored popcorn, and chocolates you can find!

Crepe Stand, harajuku and omotesando

The last few steps of Takeshita-dori is where you can find the hipster and new age grunge fashions that are recently gaining popularity in the Tokyo fashion world. As you exit Takeshita-dori, you move into Omotesando, an eye-opening experience after emerging from the crowded and cramped Harajuku. The main highway-like roads are four lanes wide and people move from street to street in Shibuya-style masses. Stores like Forever 21 and H&M stand three or four stories tall and the sidewalks are gently shaded with rows of leafy trees. In a way, it almost feels like New York’s Soho nestled itself in the middle of a park. Despite both Harajuku and Omotesando having a commercial appearance, there is a treasure trove of little backstreets and exclusive boutiques to explore.

For a more laid-back and adult version of Takeshita-dori, try walking along Cat Street. To find it, take the street right next to the impressive five story shopping mall Gyre, and a hidden village-like walkway will open up to you. You’ll not only find several recognizable brand name shops like Adidas and Keene, but also Japan-exclusive stores.Ragtag, for example, hosts one of the widest selection of vintage and secondhand women’s and men’s clothing and home furnishings selection around. Although the prices at Ragtag are nowhere as cheap as you will find at Salvation Army or Goodwill, this place is a great store to walk away with some vintage Japanese and foreign designer labels.

Cat Street, Harajuku, harajuku and omotesando

Cat Street is good at hiding the best gems Omotesando has to offer, so keep your eyes peeled. What looks like a whitewashed garden gate is actually one of the best doughnut and bagel places in Omotesando, and be sure to walk up to the second level of the various buildings to find boutiques that may have only 25 or 30 items at most for sale. (For more unique ideas on where to shop, visit our Cat Street shopping guide.)

And Omotesando isn’t just about fashion. Whether you are 5 or 50, who can resist a quirky, wild and out there toy store? For both the innovative and the cute, take a stop by Kiddyland. With five floors to explore, the kid in you can run rampant, play with legos, look at Star Wars stuff, and hang out with Hello Kitty. Each floor is dedicated to a different genre and it’s like living Rudolph’s The Island of Misfit Toys, but so much happier! Dive headfirst into The Peanuts, anything Studio Ghibli, Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Gundam, Lego, and essentially every other kind of toy you can think of!

Omotesando Hills harajuku and omotesando

Omotesando Hills shopping complex

Aside from shopping, Omotesando is a great place to enjoy a snack. If you are still coming down from your sugar high after Takeshita-dori, grab a California-style avocado burger or Cesar salad from one of the many cafes and bars that line the street. Another alternative is Mos Cafe, which is like everyone’s favorite burger joint Mos Burger, but with a wider menu and delicious handcrafted salads and bento dishes.

If you have a hardcore sweet tooth, the handmade candy shop Candy Showtime turns gargantuan logs of spun sugar into little droplets of candy art right in front of your eyes. Also, get in on the latest food trend sweeping the Japanese nation: popcorn!! You will see lines two blocks deep of fans waiting to get a taste of KuKuRuZa Popcorn and it is highly suggested that you go and see what all the fuss is about!

Heiroku Sushi harajuku and omotesando

Whatever you choose to do in Harajuku and Omotesando, just keep one thing in mind: while it is a blast to see the major landmarks and famous establishments, this area of Tokyo has such a rich fashion and cultural history that it would be a shame to just stay on the beaten path. Make the experience your own and explore the never-ending back streets and tiny alleys where the true fashion and culinary delights are to be found. That way you will be able to carry away with you a piece of Harajuku and Omotesando that is truly yours. So get out to Harajuku and Omotesando and have fun!

If you’re looking for more shopping ideas in Omotesando, visit Omotesando on a Budget: 5 Must-Visit Shops and Cafes.

Note: To go directly into the heart of Omotesando, head to the Tokyo Metro’s Omotesando station instead. Either place is extremely easy to get to and if you are unfamiliar with the kanji for Omotesando and Harajuku, most signs will also have English incorporated so you will be good to go!

March 6, 2015 0 comment
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Beauty and Youth Featured Image, Cat Street Tokyo

 

A shopping experience confined within the streets of Harajuku may remind a visitor of their first adventure in using the Tokyo train system. With sidewalks filled by eager shoppers, store doors occasionally swinging open and closed, and dozens of people gathered close together to traverse through the jungle of high-end shops and small boutiques, a shopper can certainly feel crowded on the busy streets of Tokyo’s fashion capital.

However, if you happen to see a trendy local breaking free of the crowd and heading for a much quieter path, follow them! Harajuku’s Cat Street runs parallel to Meiji Street, but offers a much more relaxed shopping experience by giving individuals a chance to take it all in at their own pace.

There are dozens of small shops that visitors can wander by, and there is definitely something for everyone. With upscale stores as well as small boutiques, each store shows personality within. We here at EnableJapan.com love Cat Street, and there are many good reasons why you should too!

 

American Apparel

Cat Street has an American Apparel for both men and women, directly across from one another on a small side street. The stores carry the full line of American Apparel items here, including the basic sweatshirts, bodysuits, t-shirts, and accessories you need to properly fill out a wardrobe.

Website and Online Store ||| Facebook ||| Twitter ||| Instagram ||| Tumblr ||| Pinterest ||| YouTube

Hours of Operation: 12:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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

 

Beauty and Youth United Arrows

Beauty & Youth United Arrows  is one of my favorites. Since I’ve discovered this quaint store, I’ve made it a point to visit each time I’m shopping in Harajuku. This brand can be found throughout Tokyo, and sells other brands such as Acne Studios and Lee. Beauty & Youth United Arrows is sophisticated with its array of sleek, slimming trousers and feminine loafers, while also having a youthful flair with leather motorcycle jackets and skinny jeans. In addition to selling clothes and shoes, various homemaking goods are sold, including silverware and home décor.

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter

Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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

 

Candy Show Time

Candy Show Time Cat Street

Snap, crackle, and POP, is exactly what you’ll be thinking shortly after entering Candy Show Time, one of the first shops you’ll see after strolling down Cat Street. From head to toe there are tiny, round candies all prepackaged with designs ranging from the face of Hello Kitty to Pokémon figures, but the best part is that these candies actually pop in your mouth! Free samples make the decision of choosing just one candy easier, and the thin glass that divides employees hard at work, making the candy, from hungry customers, is a good distraction for your friends to wait for you until you decide!

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate) ||| Instagram ||| Online Shop (via Google Translate)

Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

4-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Journal Standard

Journal Standard sits near the Omotesando Avenue entrance to Cat Street. Its entrance is wooden, in tune with the brand’s down to earth vibe. The ground floor is men’s clothing, shoes and accessories, while the second floor is women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. Journal Standard carries its own brand name items, and also sells other brands’ pieces in its collection, including Adidas and Levi’s denim. Journal Standard caters to the tomboy trend, with straight fitting button downs and boyfriend fit jeans. However, the store also sells feminine dresses and skirts, as well as charming loafers and handbags.

Website ||| Facebook (Japanese)||| Twitter (Baycrews parent company, via Google Translate) ||| Instagram ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

4-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Lelulaatikko

Lelulaatikko Cat Street

Looking to accessorize your stay in Tokyo? Lelulaatikko is the perfect place to start, as there is affordable jewelry, quirky items to spice up your home, socks, pillows, bins and more!

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

Hours of Operation: Open Weekdays 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Weekends: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

8-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

The Little Shop of Flowers

Little Shop of Flowers Cat Street

Located under District United Arrows, there is a shop no bigger than a small bedroom, which has merchandise you may not expect to find after a day spent surrounded by worldwide name brands. The Little Shop of Flowers has, well, dozens of flowers for you to purchase! As the name of the shop is written in lights, it is easy for shoppers to notice as they walk by, especially as the sun starts to go down. The second the door is pulled open; it’s like entering a mini indoor garden.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate) ||| Instagram ||| Online Shop (via Google Translate)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

2-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Opening Ceremony


Close to Journal Standard is Harajuku’s Opening Ceremony, a store found in other cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Opening Ceremony is high end and quirky, with bold pieces for a unique individual style. It boasts unconventionality, while remaining cool and chic. The multiple floors sell pieces from chunky, strappy sandals and cropped button downs to long flowing skirts and dresses with asymmetrical designs. The store sells both Opening Ceremony originals as well as other designers such as Band of Outsiders and Kenzo. It is definitely on the pricier side, but well worth checking out even for just style inspiration.

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

Hours of Operation: Open daily 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

4-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Paris Miki

Paris Miki Cat Street

Upon entering Paris Miki, you may be confused whether you just entered a 50s diner, as the black and white tiled floors, juke-box, and instruments such as electric guitars and drums might throw you off. However, don’t be alarmed, this is the store where you can cure your squinty eyes with name brand glasses like Ray Bans, ADSR, Oliver Peoples, and Moscot!

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

Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

4-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Pigsty

Pigsty Cat Street

First step… find the Pigsty pig! Next, walk down the steps into this pre-owned clothing store, and try to find a sweater your dad probably wore in high school. In this shop, there’s something to get everyone talking about. Personally, I found the section filled with American college sweatshirts to be most entertaining, as my college pride came out as I hunted through to find my own institution!

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

Hours of Operation: Open daily 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

3-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Rainbow Spectrum

Rainbow Spectrum Cat Street

Many areas of Tokyo represent bright, colorful lights, and a funky style. Rainbow Spectrum definitely lives up to those expectations, as this unique twist of a convenience store offers items like purses, blankets, travel necessities, cooking materials, and many accessories.

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

Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

3-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Too Cool for School


Right next to W Closet is a small Korean cosmetics store called “too cool for school.” There is also another too cool for school store along Meiji Street. The brand sells all the cosmetic essentials, in colors ranging from more natural and subdued to bold and funky. Lip tints, lip gloss, eye shadow, and blush can all be sampled within the store, allowing you to get a look at the cosmetics you’re buying before you buy them. The store also sells gel facial masks, facial scrubs, and even body cleansers. When I visited the store, the sales girl graciously described all the facial masks and cosmetics I was interested in, and even allowed me to sample a facial scrub on my hands.

Website (LABOO gw Corp site, via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (LABOO Corp, via Google Translate) ||| Instagram

Hours of Operation: Open daily 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

2-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

W Closet


W Closet is another of my favorites on Cat Street. It’s one of the must-visit small stores along Cat Street, and has a comfortable atmosphere and very friendly sales help. Both great basic and unique pieces can be found at this store, including lace up loafers and oxfords, printed and collared sweaters, and long coats. This cute, laid back style is easy to wear, comfortable, and reasonably priced.

Website and Online Shop (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate) ||| Instagram

Hours of Operation: Open daily 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

7-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

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Zoe Mackey is a native New Yorker and college student currently studying in Tokyo. Her greatest inspirations are street fashion, lazy Sundays, and science fiction. You’ll more than likely find her taking amateur photos and looking for the best food in Tokyo. You can email her at z.isamac@gmail.com.

February 27, 2015 0 comment
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By: Jessica Jackson

 

Shinjuku is a maze of stations, shopping, and businesses. For the uninformed traveler it is easy to mix the main hub Shinjuku station with Higashi Shinjuku and Shinjuku Sanchome or even the West end from the East end. Fortunately, much of the main shopping of Shinjuku is accessible from Shinjuku station. Focusing on the East end, I’m going to share a virtual tour of a few of the big Shinjuku department stores, also known as the “depato.” Many stores on this side are accessible from both underground in the station as well as above ground along Futaba Street, which runs between Shinjuku and Shinjuku-Sanchome and is clearly marked by signs in both English and Japanese.

With that word of warning out of the way, let’s dive right into a few of the behemoth shopping centers in Shinjuku’s East End.

 

 

Lumine EST

Lumine EST has two basement levels and 8 floors along with a limited roof garden. With the exception of the odd café or restaurant meant to give patrons a place to rest, each floor is based around clothing and items targeted to different demographics.

 

 

Starting with the station accessible B1 and B2, B2 is a grab bag and has a bit of everything meant to attract the passerby. B1 is heavily marketed toward young, fashion-forward women. From frilly femme to city chic to hipster casual, many small stores line the halls with fashionable young shop clerks modeling the wares. As is often the case with department stores, the lower portion (B1 through the fourth floor) of the store is devoted to women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.Lumine EST is not too cruel to the dragged along boyfriend or partner because there is at least one stationary, knick-knack, or trinket store to occupy their time on each floor.

 

 

The fifth and sixth floors are dedicated to male fashion, also ranging in style to accommodate different aesthetics with random bric-a-brac stores spaced across the floors.

 

 

The 7th and 8th floors are restaurants that serve foods in both western and Asian styles. The roof space holds seasonal festivals; in the past special events such as the beer and BBQ terrace or flea market have been held upstairs.

 

Lumine EST Location Information:

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram

Nearest Station: 5 minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 11AM- 10PM

“Why Go?”: A little bit of fashion, food and fun for everybody!

Isetan

Isetan is a whopping series of buildings, most notably the iconic main building which is the focus of my review. Isetan considers itself to be the stately elder of Shinjuku shopping malls, and with its iconic plaid shopping bags, it is absolutely right. This could be seen as a benefit—everyone knows to go to Isetan, but it also has this almost imperceptible layer of dust over it like it is meant for an older or more sophisticated crowd. Though goods are for sale, there is almost something museum-like about the store.

 

 

Each area of each floor is themed, but unlike other stores, which are typically sectioned off by designer or brand, Isetan’s floor plan is designed for you to flow from one product to the next. It also throws out any pretense of not pandering to women because the main building is almost entirely catering to female shoppers. The separate Isetan building just down the block is called men’s building is called that for a reason—it is where all the male products are with the minor exception of the 7th floor traditional Japanese garment section.

 

I visited during the Christmas exhibit, and there were large series of displays with ornaments, décor, and goods available.

 

 

More than Lumine EST or 0101, Isetan is willing to personally cater to foreign customers, which is quite the feat since the customer service quality in Japan is known to be pretty stellar to begin with. Isetan kindly had phones set out on each floor to call the foreign customer service desk on the sixth floor and had the most comprehensive multi language brochure and directory.

 

Isetan Location Information:

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | YouTube

Nearest Station: 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 10:30AM- 8PM

“Why Go?”: A classic Japanese Department store who cater to and love foreigners!

0101 (pronounced Marui)

Like Lumine EST, 0101 is a chain of department stores targeting young women between 25 – 35 years old. As expected, it also caters to many different fashion styles. One difference between Lumine EST is that the price point of 0101 ranges more drastically from affordable cheaper brands to exorbitantly priced high-end fashion brands. 0101 has a generic shopping floor plan with two exceptions – restaurants are  located on the bottom floor, and the first floor contains the special events. Past examples include Harry Potter goods.

 

 

I think overall 0101 is a bit more friendly and approachable because of the price point range and clothing options. Shopping options are expanded beyond standard sizing more thoroughly; it has the “0101 model” area (plus size clothing) and also carries shoes in sizes above 25 for larger feet—as many foreigners have.

 

 

The store has also clearly made an effort to make male shopping easier in a department store. Part of what makes 0101 my top pick was that I also noticed more imports of mid-price point clothing as opposed to just the high-end fashion brands. To be honest, this is the store I actually shop at the most of this list.

Marui (0101) Location Information:

Website | Facebook

Nearest Station: 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Monday-Saturday from 11AM- 9PM, Sundays open from 11AM-8:30PM

“Why Go?”: Friendly and approachable department store with styles and products for every budget!

Bonus department store: Bikkuro

 

 

Bikkuro is the love child of the affordable clothing brand Uniqlo and electronic goods giant Bic Camera. Bikkuro/ Bicqlo is exactly what you would expect of a clothing store and electronic store mash up. It is a six story building with three basement levels. The bottom basement levels are Bic Camera staples; B3 is computer goods, B2 is smartphones and accessories, and B1 is clocks, beauty supplies, and medicines. 1-3 is Uniqlo, including men’s and women’s inner and outerwear, and children’s clothes. 4 is TV audio, software, and liquor; 5 is household appliances, and 6 is lighting, toys, and video games.

 

Bikkuro Location Information:

Website (Uniqlo Site)

Nearest Station: 7minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open everyday, 10AM-10PM

“Why Go?”: A weird, but oddly perfect mix of Japanese electronics and fashion!

Considering this is only a small slice of the shops available in the East end, let alone all of the options in Shinjuku area, I am sure you quickly see that Shinjuku is a shopping haven for visitors and locals alike.

For more ideas of things to do while in Shinjuku, try visiting our Shinjuku photo essay. Ready to move on from Shinjuku? The elegant Ginza district is also known for its massive department stores.

January 10, 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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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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Bringing fashion to a new level of cute has been perfected in the Shibuya and Harajuku area. Not only can you find a bountiful variety of Lolita and super-cute stores like Metamorphose temps de fille and Listen Flavor in this area of Tokyo, those stores are just one of many places that you can purchase a whole new wardrobe of super cute and innovative fashions. With so many options to deck yourself out in neon and adorable T-shirts, where should one start? One name in this super cute decora style is right in the Shibuya area. Galaxxxy has become a widely known name in cute fashion and has also contributed to the online fashion community which has only helped to elevate Japanese fashion further.

 

If you are in the Shibuya area, then Galaxxxy is a place that you should put on your list. When you walk through Galaxxxy’s doors, you will be greeted with a barrage of color and prints. This store is one the cusp of youth fashion. With all of their activity on Facebook and Twitter, Galaxxxy’s fan base has not only gone global but also across all forms of media. Galaxxy has been featured in magazines and throughout the social media universe.

You can pick up some super cool T-shirts at Galaxxxy. If you are into pastels and screen printing, then you will be in heaven. But on the flip side, Galaxxxy is well versed in true hipster fashions. Whether is be Edo-period kanji sweatshirts, tribal pencil skirts, or modern printed denim, Galaxxxy has you covered. Like so many other fashion labels, Galaxxxy also has several lines that are collaborations with other famous brands or characters. Recently they have collaborated with Tetsuya Goto, My Little Pony, and Jenny Kaori as well as several AKB48 idols. Each season there is a new round of collaborations which keeps their styles constantly fresh.

Whether you are looking for a new party dress or some flashy casual wear, be sure to check out Galaxxxy for the latest trends.

Galaxxxy Shibuya

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter (via Google Translate) ||| Instagram ||| YouTube ||| LINE ||| iTunes ||| Android ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 9-minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

 

Hours of Operation: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm daily.

“Why Go?”: Super-cute fashions, and just try to keep up with their social media!

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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Beams Clothing Store, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Beams is a fashion label that stands out for men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion both in Japan and in the fashion blog universe. They have locations all over Japan, but have absolutely dominated one area of Harajuku with several stores for different demographics spanning the entirety of one street block.

Along this stretch of Harajuku’s Meiji-dori you can visit a variety of Beams branches and have a unique shopping experience at each store. You can stop by the branch that specializes in shoes and get yourself some new kicks, or go to the kid’s store to pick up some new duds for the little ones. But if you have never been to any of their locations, you should start at the main store in the center of all the other branches. At the central Beams store, you can get some great items for your wardrobe and daily life and discover what the label is all about. The central Beams location targets the fashion-conscious male, but the ladies can find some fun and flirty fashions at the other Beams stores along Harajuku’s Meiji-dori.

The Beams style and sensibility is designed for all fashion tastes and seasons. In addition to a variety of quirky T-shirts featuring the “Beams Bear,” be sure to seek out their casual-yet-streamlined button-down shirts and leather loafers. Beams also offers a selection of stylish jewelry and accessories, where you can get anything from solid silver key rings to single-strand turquoise necklaces and rope bracelets.


While Beams does offer plenty of fresh additions to your wardrobe, they can also help you stay stylish while you are out and about having adventures! They have a large offering of day packs for short hikes as well as pocket knives and other handy wilderness necessities.

So the next time you are on Harajuku’s Meiji-dori, be sure to stop by Beams and style yourself!

For more famous Japanese clothing brands, visit our article Top 10 Japanese Clothing Brands.

Beams Harajuku Store Information

Website | Facebook (Japanese only) | Twitter (Japanese only) | Instagram | YouTube | Flickr | Online Store (primarily Japanese)

Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Harajuku JR station, or 7-minute walk from Meijijingu-Mae station (double-click on the Google map to get directions)

Hours of Operation: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm daily.

“Why Go”?: fashionable yet comfortable clothing from a worldwide brand.

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

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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