Shopping in Tokyo will make you cry of happiness and excitement. It is also really convenient as all malls are concentrated in trade areas. But despite the rule of hi-tech and digital, Tokyo remains an Asian city with puller-ins, signs overhanging one above another and endless stalls. What an entropy!
The Station is small (two lines – JR Yamanote and Chiyoda) so you'll find everything easy. Take the only exit and walk to the right to Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine or to the left and down to Takeshida Dori street.
Beware of aliens!! This small street is ALWAYS packed – people, restaurants and the cheapest clothes in Tokyo. To have an idea of Harajuku Style, picture young Gwen Stefani – multilayered stuff all of different styles, pink or blue hair and nonmatching accessories. If you wear polka dot leggings with a striped skirt – that's your place. Here you can get a couple of stuffed Totoro, a samurai T-shit, a Sailor Moon hoodie and a complete anime lover outfit. Every store is a potential threat to your wallet but it is so nice to hold things with the heroes of your childhood or cuddle a Totoro. Go to Daiso – it is a hyakuen store – a 100 yen shop (in reality everything here cost 108 yens). Even if you are an experienced shopper you will be stunned. Don't get lost and better come during the week or after lunch.
Crepes are local specialty sold in the neighbourhood for over half a century. Old creperies are resisting the new neon-and-adventure spirit of Harajuku and offer their alternatives, like crepes with spicy chicken. Traditionalists, however, can munch on strawberry and cream. All major venues are located in the middle of the street so choose the one with the biggest line. Marion Crepes is the oldest opened in 1979 – quite a crepe-stuffing experience, I should say.
A huge department store hosting Japanese brands of all styles –from Gothic Lolita in the basement to funk fashion and Yohji Yamamoto designs. The last floor is taken by a museum that often has movie nights and exhibitions.
A famous mall at the corner of Omotesando and Meiji-dori. Its trademark is glass escalator vaults, hip open stores that merge into fancy boutiques – relaxed and cute. Here they sell mostly young Japanese designers.
Starbucks at Omohara
This coffee shop at the recently opened Tokyo Plaza mall is worth mentioning indeed. Go straight to the 6th floor and get into a garden of heaven – beautiful evergreens, exquisitely shaped benches, stools and hammock chairs. On a hot summer day they have water sprinkles and when X-mas comes the place is lit with hundreds of lights.
They say, Omotesando is the best shopping spot in Tokyo. It has the same luxurious brands as Ginza but you can still spot some mass market stores like Benetton. The Street boasts buildings by famous architects - Dior boutique, for example, resembles a lipstick, the alley where people and leaves blend together and MoMa Design store, that has a beautiful bridge above wherefrom you can get the best pictures. By the way, Ometesando is not a street (Japanese have a totally different street naming system) but an avenue between Omotesando and Mejijingumae Stations.
The legendary Omotesando toy store is real heavens for the lovers of Miyazaki, Moomin, Star Wars, One Peace and Transformers – for all kids and kidults who can buy mugs, stickers, bags phone cases with their favorite characters. They also sell action figures impossible to part with.
This is where Hansomon, Ginza and Chiyoda lines cross. Inside, there is a lovely food court where at Tossed Salad you can get all-you-want-to-put-in salad for 800 yens. Hanzomon and Ginza share the entrance and be careful, as trains from one platform go one-way only.
Shinjuku is Tokyo's major transport hub, where Shinkansens and international buses (both day and night) stop and is actually three large transport facilities for JR, Odakyu and Kei lines linked via underground tunnels with exits to all big skyscrapers in the neighborhood. If you have a meeting or a transfer here better come half an hour earlier and check the gate you need not to get lost. The venue is enormous.
Lumine Shinjuku I, II
These two enormous malls have everything – famous brands and young designers but better be ready to spare the whole day to explore all the tresures. The most expensive stuff is on the first floor and then the idea is the higher the cheaper. Floors six and seven of Lumine I are taken by restaurants, but you can find cafés for a quick snack on each floor.
The famous shabu-shabu thinned slice boiled beef is served in special venues, like Kisoji. They cook perfect beef right in front of you, but the price is high – 5,000 to 11,000 yens per person. You can go for a 2,000 yen combo lunch but the restaurant is quite popular so come early and look for the New Fuji Building – there on the fifth floor it stands facing Bic Camera/Uniqlo – not that easy to find.