You can buy anything you want, and plenty that you don’t, in Tokyo. Although shops are just shops and shops are everywhere, our favourite finds gave us as much of an insight into Tokyo life as MOMAT or the Imperial Palace did. Here’s a few notable ones:
Stationary, beautiful stationary. If you are creative, or have a love for craft, paper and wonderful patterns, head to Itoya Ginza. The shop itself is all light music, calming incense, and beautifully constructed displays placed beside cabinets full of artful prints and delicate homewares. Although a chain store, Itoya manages to retain an air of the old paper craftsmanship that Japan is so famous for.
Several floors of just about everything; an Ikea, John Lewis, B&Q and Paperchase all rolled into one. Browsing Tokyu Hands provides a glimpse of every day Japanese life, and the Tokyu Café does a cheap but decent coffee should you need somewhere to escape a sudden burst of rain, too.
Jimbocho is Tokyo’s used-book and publishing district. Although you’re more likely to enjoy discovering a hilarious dated magazine than a rare antique woodblock print here, a visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without appreciating what Jimbocho has to offer. Our favourite shop of them all was magnif, where we found an impeccable curation of vintage fashion and design magazines. Owner Yasunori Nakadake’s labour of love is to show that fashion magazines are culturally important, and we loved delving into magnif’s collection.
Akihabara, Toyko’s ‘Electric Town’
Our morning spent wandering around Electric Town was filled with culture shocks and sights we couldn’t quite believe. There were cosplay characters and fanboys hunting for a vintage gem in Mandarake, the biggest second-hand anime and manga shop in the world. There were wide-eyed addicts filling six-floor Pachinko centres, losing hours intensely immersed and completely oblivious to the deafening noise of the slots. There were more gadgets than we could ever imagine a need for, gamers locked away in VR pods, blinking lights and pinging beeps, and the straight up weird Maid Cafes too. Oddly fascinating and fascinatingly odd.