A robo-greeter at Uniqlo's Ginza flagship store (photo: incamerastock/Alamy)

Buyer, Be There: Shopping in Tokyo’s Ginza District

By Suresh Doss

When it comes to shopping in Tokyo, there’s truly a neighbourhood for everyone—from gadget geeks to high-end stylistas. But among Tokyo’s 23 city wards, Ginza’s easy accessibility and range of shops make it the ideal starting point.

The action begins right outside the Ginza subway station and stretches for blocks with a seemingly endless network of malls and shops stacked on top of each other. There’s a gigantic Uniqlo store: This location of Japan’s biggest fashion export boasts a dozen floors of casualwear for men and women.

For high fashion, locals head to Matsuya and neighbouring Mitsukoshi, the iconic department store known for its style selection. The latter is hard to miss, thanks to the bronze lion statues at its entrance. Its specialty Japanese sweets section is also a must-shop.

Be sure to browse Ginza’s many distinctive ateliers. Kuroda Touen showcases Japanese ceramics, with tea sets and coffee mugs doubling as works of art, while Shiseido Parlour offers handmade Hokkaido biscuits in beautiful—and very packable—tins.

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For a window into Japan’s whimsical collector culture, stop by Sanrio World Ginza, where characters like Hello Kitty and Gudetama (a.k.a. the lazy egg) are embodied in plushies, vinyl toys and much, much more.

Though Ginza’s legendary Tsukiji fish market was recently shuttered, a raft of related businesses remain, including specialty knife shops. At Tsukiji Masamoto, home cooks and master chefs alike ogle knives crafted by seventh-generation owner Misao Hirano and his team. (Still hungry to witness one of Tokyo’s famed tuna auctions? the new Toyosu fish market is a few kilometres southeast of Ginza.)

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a trip to a stationery store. Century-old Itoya houses entire floors dedicated to pens and ink, notebooks and washi tape. You can even write a letter home and post it directly at the store.

shopping in tokyo ginza shiseido parlour biscuits
Beautiful biscuits from Shiseido Parlour

Head to these Tokyo districts for more retail therapy.

Shibuya: One of Tokyo’s hippest districts, Shibuya is well known for its bustling pedestrian crossings. It’s also stacked with hundreds of cubicle-size boutiques, selling products and designs that are well ahead of Western trends.

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Asakusa: You’re surrounded by history in this district, but the main attraction is the seventh-century Sensoji temple. Nearby are Nakamise and Nishi-sando shopping streets, where dozens of vendors hawk souvenirs, craft items and street food.

Akihabara: Tokyo’s aptly nicknamed “electric town” is probably the best place in the world to shop for electronics. Whether you’re looking for cameras or robots, the brightly lit network of tech malls offers something for every gearhead.