Shopping in Japan is an exciting and exhilarating experience. We had a chance to visit several areas on our last trip.
Shopping in Japan - Ginza District
The Ginza district reminds me of Rodeo Drive meets New York but with even bigger and brighter stores. Offering cafes, restaurants, bars and taverns, this area of the city is vibrant all day and into the wee morning hours. Because most of the city is built upward, gleaming towers of ultimate shopping venues can be found here.
In the Ginza district of Tokyo, Mitsukosh and Matsuya Ginza are two department stores are like a cross between Macy’s and Bergdoff Goodman and Harrods. With such a vast array of items, you can find things for a few yen to a few thousand. You not only can spend some cash here, you can also spend some serious time taking it all in.
The very best part? These stores have several basement floors with massive food halls filled with spectacular bakeries, candy shops, sake purveyors and seafood vendors.
These massive halls can be a bit overwhelming, but taking some time to examine all that is available will result in some delicious meals and unique treats to take home to those that cannot make the trip with you.
These department stores carry some of the most beautiful fruits I have seen. These gourmet fruits have been carefully grown and cultivated to near perfection and as you can see by the price of these grapes, they are not cheap. At the time of my trip the currency exchange was about 1:1. So the beautifully perfect grapes in the photo below? So these cost about $54.00 per bunch. That is not a misprint. Wow. Just wow.
On the upper floors, you will find housewares, electronics, accessories and clothing.
One thing to note when shopping in Japan is that many of the departments stores will not have larger sizes. This is because the population of Japan is average dress size of nine, which is the equivalent of a size 4 in the US.
This also goes for shoes. I saw so many adorable and unique shoes when I was there but there were none available in the size 10 that I wear. I was very disappointed to learn this and it took me a while to convince myself to stop looking for shoes in my size.
However, if you are a size 4 or 6 and have a shoe size of 5 to 7, you should seriously be planning a trip to Japan, like right now. While I did not come home with any shoes, I did end up with some clothing, housewares, textiles, candies and sake from these stores.
Japan’s culinary presentations are truly amazing and as a result, there are lots of great places for cooking accessories.
Here you will find Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other high-end boutique stores share the street with less expensive quality stores. On the weekends, the main street is closed to auto traffic so it makes it much easier to get around. For having so many people visiting, the street is kept very clean and tidy. Most of the fashions are more modern, whereas I saw more traditional wear when we went to Kyoto.
Shopping in Kyoto
If you plan to go to Kyoto, we loved the Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade and Teramachi Street shopping areas. Located very close to each other, it is worth spending a few hours here to peruse the boutiques, souvenir shops, cafes and bars.
Again, alive with people and many shops, restaurants it is here in this mostly covered shopping center where I bought most of my souvenirs that I brought back for friends and family.
Shinjuku is a very hip and popular place. It kind of reminded me of Las Vegas and I will be sharing our experiences in Shinjuku another day.
Japan Trip Planner - Shopping Tips
Here are my tips for your trip:
- Dress comfortably and plan to walk a lot.
- There is some opportunity to bargain at the vendors in Kyoto.
- Many items are available at different stores, do some exploring before buying souvenirs.
- Make a list of what you hope to buy and go early, these stores get crowded
- If looking for electronics, you will want to check out Akihabara - anime and gaming rule here and prices are lower than department stores, in my experience.
- Be familiar with your clothing size as it is different in Japan than the US
- Take time to really explore as many stores offer an array of items which are less segmented than those in the US.
I hope you found these travel planning tips helpful. If you did, please consider sharing.
Have you been to Japan?