Tokyo Shopping on a Budget

I again had the privilege to visit Tokyo, Japan for the second consecutive year, and again, we had a free day on our schedule we can use to tour and mostly shop. Last year’s free day was more of a tour than a shopping experience. I thought, this year should be more shopping and less touring! So I spent almost every night on the internet searching for the best places to shop around Tokyo. Coming from Manila, I am very used to the mall concept where shops have their own stalls, and the department store is just a part of the whole “Mall” concept.

I would put “Tokyo Mall” in Google search but it gave me “Department stores”. In faith, I placed the biggest department stores in my itinerary hoping that one of them is an actual mall.
Harajuku
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Since we had a first timer in Tokyo in tow, our first stop for the day is to have a picture with Hatchiko at Shibuya Station. From there, we had a liesurely walk to Harajuku along Meiji-dori (Meiji St.) where we saw a lot of high end stores like Lacoste, Burberry, etc a la  Rodeo Drive. Of course, we didn’t have budget for those.
We finally arrived at the famous Harajuku where Anime fans and the young go to to get their young fashion fix. Although I am not young and restless nor an Anime fan, I enjoyed the visits to the quaint shops that sold cartoon characters from The Simpsons to Manga. You might find something interesting in the stores that might turn out unique when you bring them to your home country. If you still cannot find anything worth buying, there’s a 4-floor Daiso store along the street that caters to all ages. With Daiso there, your trip to Harajuko is not at all in vain.
Shinjuku
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From Harajuku, we rode the JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku to visit Isetan Department Store, and maybe Takashimaya.
From Shinjuku station, we walked along this street (see picture above) that is lined up with stores that sell all sorts like the ubiquitous ABC Mart and Family Mart. After much confusion on how to look at the map, we finally found our way to Isetan. As soon as we entered, we were welcomed by a Hermes shop. To our joy, we though we found the “mall”. Sadly, it was just one shop. The whole building is more like a department store with famous brands a la Rustan’s. It’s just one big Rustan’s. We didn’t stay long in our dismay, and decided to go to our next stop which we still didn’t know yet. We had a choice between going to Takishamaya Department Store or go to Odaiba. We decided on the former.
On our way to find Takashimaya, we stopped by H&M when we saw big “SALE!” signs outside. H&M is another version of Forever 21. When on sale, they’re really on sale like getting a top for ¥600. You have regular priced cardigans for ¥1,450. Really cheap clothes!
Finally, we headed toward Takashimaya (Times Square), and we saw Uniqlo and Tokyu Hands outside the building. We didn’t know what to expect, but we entered anyway. We were ready not to be deceived by its size. We parted ways and decided to meet in an hour.
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I decided to visit Tokyu Hands. As soon as I entered, I was enamored! Wow! 8 floors of amazing stuff! My favorite sections are the Kitchen and Stationery! 😀 I have not spent enough time on the other floors, I’m sure I’d find something interesting as well on the DIY floor. I saw from the outside that it also had DIY Scientific experiments. 😀
I was late for our meet up by almost 20 minutes. I wanted to check out Uniqlo, just to be able to say I was able to visit Uniqlo — in Japan! 😀
Odaiba
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After Takashimaya, we were too pooped. One of us already wanted to go home, but he was convinced to move on to our next itinerary: Odaiba. It was a tricky, but scenic, evening commute to Odaiba, almost creepy because the train to Odaiba was quiet. It was almost empty. We got to our stop, and further emptiness. We didn’t know exactly where to go. As we ran our eyes to the street, we saw “Decks“. Sounds like the place where we were told we can see the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower from. 🙂
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We were famished so we ate at the very first restaurant we saw: Yoshinoya. Yum! Philippine Yoshinoya doesn’t compare to the yumminess of the authentic — or maybe we were really just that hungry. Kidding aside, you should be able to taste the difference in food preparation quality.
We walked to Decks and we were welcomed by “Lego Land” and Joypolis signs. We were excited! We find out that Joypolis is a Sega gaming place. We decided to have our picture taken with the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower behind us first before moving along. We strolled to the Aqua City Mall and finally, a real mall that we’ve been wanting to go to! Toys ‘R’ Us, Gap, Disney Store etc. Across the street you have Divers Tokyo where you have in one building H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo and Krispy Kreme. LOL!
My shopping Verdict: Tokyu Hands and Odaiba. If you are on a budget, and want the familiar Philippine mall concept, Odaiba is the best place to go to shop. If you like home gear and office supplies (much like going to Staples), Tokyu Hands is heaven.
I’m sure I wasn’t able to include many other stores that should be visited that only Filipinos in Japan could probably enumerate with certainty. If you have ideas to add here for the rest of the readers, do leave a comment. 🙂
P.S. Ueno
I went to Ueno last year, but didn’t have time this year. For Divisoria open-air feel, you would definitely want to go to Ueno St. where you can find authentic brands and put on sale. Common things to buy from here are perfumes and branded sport shoes. I also saw a Levi’s store where you can probably get some on sale. Along the parallel street, you will find local delicacies like mushrooms, herbs, nuts, and what not’s. This should be part of your itinerary for a unique, but familiar, shopping experience. To go to Ueno, take the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Ueno Station. It shouldn’t be a difficult walk. 🙂
Tokyo trips shouldn’t be expensive for you to enjoy it. You can still be on a tight budget, and enjoy Tokyo sans the shopping. There are enough fee-free places to go to in order to still make your stay memorable. We always hear people say, “How can I enjoy my vacation if I don’t have pocket money?” There is actually an answer to this seemingly rhetorical question. If you only try to believe that you can enjoy your vacation without having to spend on Hermes and Louis Vuitton, you will enjoy the history, art and God’s creations.
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