May 30, 2019 | By Louise Squire
Ah, Tokyo. The massive cityscape with endless neighbourhoods to explore, delicious food to eat, and landmarks big and small to discover; Japan’s capital city has so much to offer. After a recent visit (my first ever, with months of planning in advance) I’ve rounded up my tips and recommendations, covering everything from retail must-sees, to sightseeing staples (perfect for the gram) and doubling up as real cool ideas for in-store visual merchandising.
Read on below for more…
Book lovers, rejoice! This is the neighbourhood for you. Jinbōchō is filled with second-hand book stores, and is one of the largest markets for used books in the world. Numerous shops that are overflowing with Japanese books line the streets. There are several foreign book stores as well, and the area also has a high concentration of publishing houses and literary societies. With books stacked and shelved both inside and out of the shops, just walking through Jinbōchō is a dream.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Japan during Sakura (cherry blossom season) then make sure to take a stroll down the Meguro River. The trees on either side of the river fill your view with blossoms and bridges make the perfect spots for photos and picnics with friends.
Dover Street Market Ginza
Ginza Komatsu West 6-9-5, Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan / 03-6228-5080
Located in the heart of Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury shopping district, Dover Street Market’s Tokyo outpost is one not to be missed. Rei Kawakubo’s carefully curated selection of designer pieces create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that can only be described as an experience. Six out of seven of the floors are filled with breath-taking visual merchandising and apparel stunning enough to make you drool. Wooden trees, huge insects, and a large white elephant are just a few of the striking decor pieces you can find in the shop. A library and bakery can be found on the top floor to refresh after your personal adventure through DSMG. To (literally) top it off, Dover Street Market Ginza’s rooftop has a grassy garden with a small shrine, a nice place to get some fresh air on a sunny day.
Shimokita Garage Department
2-25-8 Kitazawa, Tokyo, Japan / 03-3468-7000
Tokyo is famous for its numerous vintage shops and iconic street style. If you want to get a piece of the action, check out Shimokita Garage Department. Shimokita Garage rents out booths to local artisans who fill the shops with a range of goods, from second hand clothing to their own creations. Apparel, accessories, shoes, patches; you name it and you’ll find it here.
A Bathing Ape
Rise Bld. 13-17 Udagawa-Cho Shibuya-Ku Tokyo, Japan / +81-3-6415-6041
What would a visit to Tokyo be without visiting hometown hero A Bathing Ape? The streetwear brand has two Tokyo locations plus a retail space in Dover Street Market. BAPE’s edgy shops sells a range of products in a retail space outfitted with their signature camo print, with decked out glass walls and sleek interiors. Walking into the Shibuya location, the stairs in change colour with the music and a conveyor belt of sneakers travel beneath the surface.
24-8, 1F, Leisure Plaza Bld., Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan / 03-3461-1281
Love Sushi? Then definitely indulge while you’re in the country. Located in the bustling district of Shibuya, Genki Sushi delivers sushi to you via conveyor belt, taking out any need for human interaction while you eat. While watching your food shoot by is appealing aspect, the delicious sushi and free green tea make a visit to Genki worth your time.
Okay, hear me out on this one. While 7-11 in the U.S. might not be your first choice (or second, or third…) on your list of places to eat, this Japanese company serves up a better selection of pre-made food in their Japanese convenience store locations. They have a huge selection of onigiri (Japanese rice balls) that are as cheap as they are delicious, and plenty of sandwiches and grab-and-go meals to choose from. Also make sure to stock up on candy while you’re there, their unique flavors like soda and melon can’t be beat!
Totti Candy Factory
1 Chome-16 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan / 03-3403-7007
If you get a hankering for something sweet while checking out the wild fashion in Harajuku, stop into Totti Candy Factory for some HUGE cotton candy. The air is filled with sugar when you walk in, but luckily the line moves quickly to bring you to the sweet, tasty and colorful cotton candy. If you’re eager to eat while you’re on line, there is a selection of candy you can choose from and fill up your own bag while you wait.
6-13-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan / 03-5797-7711
Now some of you might hear the word “hostel” and shudder at the thought. Sleeping in a room with strangers? No way. Although Kaisu Hostel has dorm-style rooms, this is no ordinary hostel. Comfortable and spacious pod-style bunks with curtains give you the privacy you need while you sleep, and a reading light with an outlet and lock box are available in each bunk for your personal use. In line with Japanese fashion, shoes are not permitted to be worn in the bedrooms or bathrooms, keeping the facilities impeccably clean. Still not feeling the dorm style? A private, traditional Japanese tatami room is available as well. Wooden structural components and quirky surfboard decor make for a setting dying to have its photo taken. Laid-back and relaxed vibes in the bar and lounge area promote meeting other travelers during your stay, making it both a unique social scene and fun place to stay.
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