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Shopping in Tokyo

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Photo: Tetsuya Miura

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One City, Three Trends

We tapped into on-the-ground locals to uncover what’s hot now in Japan’s style capital.

Street:

• Influenced by everything from Kabuki theater to gangsta rap, Tokyo’s ever-evolving street scene is never dull—and the Harajuku district is where to get the look. Channel your inner Lolita at 6% DokiDoki (4-28-16 Jingumae, 2F, Shibuya-ku), stocked with ruffled miniskirts, Day-Glo charms, and oversize bow-tie barrettes.

• With studded geisha sandals and rhinestoned biker jackets by owner Kai Satake, Dog Harajuku (3-23-3 Jingumae, B1, Shibuya-ku) is a treasure trove of boundary-pushing clothes and accessories.

• For cutting-edge global fashion, head to GR8 Boutique (1-11-6 Jingumae, 2.5F, Shibuya-ku), a stall inside the Laforet gallery mall. Our current picks: the Ambush x Reebok shoe collaboration and Kokon to Zai T-shirts.

• A Bathing Ape designer Nigo recently resigned from the label he founded and is now concentrating on his equally hip Human Made men’s clothing line, sold at Cold Coffee (2-12-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku).

Modern Zen:

• Minimalism meets industrial chic at these urban sanctuaries, where the sensory overload of neon pop Tokyo fades away. The sleek Lisn (5-47-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) stocks more than 150 kinds of incense, including fragrant blends that reflect each season.

• Comme des Garçons protégé Chitose Abe continues to evolve Sacai (5-4-44 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku), her moody, experimental clothing brand, made with handcrafted fabrics and subtle flourishes (lace; crocheted trim).

• The Japanese have always been purists—and they’re going green, too. Enter Hokuroku Sousui (JP Tower, 2-7-2 Marunouchi, 4F, Chiyoda-ku), which carries plant-based hand soaps, herbal teas, and pillows with decorative paper cases.

Crafts:

• Fine workmanship elevates ordinary objects to art, and in Tokyo, it can be found in many forms—even the humble toy. Mandarake Henya (Nakano Broadway Shopping Center, 4F) reverently displays early Japanese-made tin robots, atomic Kaiju monsters, and action figures in a mod gallery straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

• You’ll be tempted to frame the postcards and patterned washi paper from Haibara (2-7-6 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku), a stationery firm founded in 1806 in the Marunouchi/Ginza area.

• On a backstreet off the Ginza’s main drag lies Ginza Natsuno (6-7-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku), a tiny, cluttered temple to the chopstick. The walls are lined with many rare examples by Kyoto’s best traditional artisans.

Bingoya (10-6 Wakamatsu-cho, Shinjuku-ku) is a multi-floor gallery showcasing the finest Japanese folk art, including hand-painted noren curtains, paper kites, lacquerware, fans, and block-print washi paper.

SFT (Souvenir from Tokyo) (7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku), the shop at the National Art Center, carries standard artsy museum gifts—but it’s the fascinating pop culture oddities like nekozushi postcards and animal-print sanitary masks that make a visit worthwhile.

Vintage Remix:

• Japanese don’t just shop for vintage—they turn it into wearable re-purposed art. The Omotesando Hills coffee bar disguises the secret entrance to Bedrock (4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku), a glossy underground trove for accessory finds (original Ray Ban aviators, Versace bags), handcrafted furniture, and pirate chic If Six Was Nine label.

• Of all the vintage clothing shops in Tokyo, Grimoire (1-10-7 Jinnan 7F) especially caters to lovers of kawaii (cute culture) and “dolly kei” style. Think Baroque gypsy queen meets The Brother’s Grimm. Don’t miss: printed Verum brand silk stockings.

The Locals:
Keita Maruyama, Fashion designer
Eriko Horiki, Washi installation artist
Kashiwa Sato, Graphic designer
Misha Janette, Stylist
Verbal and Yoon, Jewelry designers

It’s a Mall World

The revitalized Marunouchi district is being transformed into a luxury supersite where mixed-use, store-filled skyscrapers such as Oazo, Brick Square, and Tokia make shopping a high-rise adventure. The latest? Kitte, an airy, multilevel complex of small-brand retailers on the former Central Post Office site opposite Tokyo Station. (Kitte means postage stamp.) Don’t miss: H-Tokyo, a charming handkerchief specialist that will custom-embroider pocket squares on the spot. We also love Daikanyama T-Site (17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku), a mixed-use complex in the hip Daikanyama neighborhood that includes a pet shop, restaurants, camera store, and a Tsutaya concept bookstore where graphic artists browse small-press editions and sub-culture ‘zines. Linger over a 30,000-volume collection in handsome reading room/bar lounge Anjin.

Cheat Sheet

Shopping in Tokyo can be a challenge for non-Japanese speakers. Which is why we love Laforet mall’s Communication Tool, available for download on the website. The handy guide includes a color palette, a list of materials (e.g., cotton, silk, and wool), and pertinent questions such as, “Can I try it on?” and “What do you think of this one?” And instead of struggling through transliterations, all you have to do is point to the paper.

Opening Ceremony

At precisely 10 every morning on Chuo-ku in the Ginza district, a bell rings as the doors swing wide at Matsuya, one of Tokyo’s venerable depato stores. Be one of the first inside, where the entire staff is lined up beside their counters to politely bow and greet customers for the day. Then walk down the block to rival Mitsukoshi and do it all over again at 10:30.

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