May 19, 2018 | By Nicole McLennan
Tokyo is by far, my favorite place to visit for kid’s inspiration. Whether it’s visiting the many pockets of town that carry incredible kidswear including Daikanyama, Jiyugaoka and Jingumae, to the endless number of kawaii (cute) experiences that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Tokyo is a must-visit for kids and adults that are young-at-heart, with many only-in-Japan items for sale, from streetwear to unique collaborations to licensed products for all ages. Here are a few places to fill all your licensed character needs and pick up some souvenirs all your friends will be jealous of (shout out to the sake, melon and banana Kit-Kats I snagged).
Tokyo Disney Sea is a must for anyone who likes Disney or is interested in a unique experience. Yes, the entire theme park is in Japanese making it a bit hard to decipher exactly what is going on, but it is an experience like no other.
I grew up going to the Disneyworld in Orlando, so was curious to see all of the cultural differences that made this place unique. Japanese culture entwined with traditional Disney themes through the elegant character outfits, authentic eateries throughout the park and the love of character apparel worn by both the young and the young-at-heart.
Purses, t-shirts, plush, hats and Mickey ears exploded throughout the park. Families, friends and couples dressed up in matching gear. In Tokyo, there’s no shame in adults wearing cute “kawaii” styles from head to toe. So, join the fun, grab some only-in-Japan Disney gear and be sure to check out the Indiana Jones Adventure, Tower of Terror and Journey to the Center of the Earth rides.
Next up is Sanrio’s Puroland, the first indoor theme park I have ever been to. It was built in the 90s, so it had an overall retro appeal from the second you walk out of the train station. I thought about how a themed experience like this could be a solution to some of the mall space closing across the U.S., an interesting concept for sure.
As was Disney Sea, this was also, all in Japanese (be sure to check online for English and times). Everything was, of course, themed from the rides to the shops and even the food.
As themed cafes are popular in Japan, there is an entire cafeteria with themed Sanrio food. This idea is new to the States but is picking up in popularity with Hello Kitty pop-ups in California to the Saved by the Bell themed restaurant pop-up in Chicago (now ended) that recently opened one in L.A (keep an eye out for some Insta-stories on this as we head there over the weekend).
Don’t leave without watching the parade full of acrobatics and lights along with hitting up all the gift shops (8 to be exact), for some one-of-a-kind merchandise you can only find here. And a heads up, there is a Daiso store (a personal favorite for souvenirs and ceramic kitchenware) that carries some cheap Sanrio products nearby.
If you don’t have the time to hit up a theme park, head over to the flagship Kiddy Land store in Harajuku that carries 5 floors of endless licensed merchandise. This store carries some one-of-a-kind items and limited-edition toys that you can’t find anywhere else. Along with global favourites such as Star Wars, Hello Kitty and Disney, there is an incredible range of Japanese character products. Prepare for your childhood to give you a blast from the past with Tamagotchi, Silly Putty and Monchhichi merchandise galore.
For more licensing inspiration, be sure to check out the Japan Licensing Expo Report.
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