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Concierge.com

Japan Shopping

Akihabara Electric Town
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Metro: Akihabara
www.akiba.or.jp/english/

Akihabara Electric Town, the electronics shopping district north of Tokyo's financial sector, is so densely populated with stores, so garishly neon-lit, and so swarmed with shoppers that it can be a real headache if you're not sure what you're looking for. Big-name electronics stores like LAOX and Yodobashi Camera dominate the main Chou Avenue, while the secondhand shops for phones, electronic translators, cameras, audio/video devices, and other digital wizardry line the inner grid of streets. Discounts can run as deep as 50 percent for name-brand electronics. There's also the geek appeal of high-speed tablets, the newest (and tiniest) laptops, and music accessories (cat-ear headphones, anyone?). Cheap electronics aren't the only reason to venture into this consumerist frenzy; this is also nerd central for manga comics, fantasy figurines, and retro Nintendo and Sega video-game arcades.—Updated by Rebecca Willa Davis

Antiques Fairs
Tokyo
Japan

If you're looking for vintage finds or just a good browse, visit one of the city's outdoor antique markets. There are good ones at Nogi Shrine in Nogizaka (second Sunday of the month except November), Togo Shrine in Harajuku (every first, fourth, and fifth Sunday except December), and Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku (every Sunday, closed in May and November). The largest antique fair in Japan—the Oedo Antique Market (www.antique-market.jp/eng/index.html)—is held on the first and third Sunday of every month at Tokyo International Forum in Marunouchi. The outdoor event started in 2003 and now has more than 250 dealers.

Arts & Science
www.arts-science.com

Aoyama's Arts & Science epitomizes the Japanese approach to design, with a blend of understated elegance and functional luxury at all their stores (there are a total of four scattered throughout three blocks in the tony neighborhood alone). Over the Counter is an upscale provisions spot designed to look like an old-fashioned pharmacy, with luxe soaps and other staples stored behind a glass case, while the aptly named Shoes and Things, Men's Shop, and women's shop II are stocked with stylish leather brogues, crisp button-down shirts, and Japanese denim. Although their in-house lines of curios—from incense to leather wallets to socks—make perfect souvenirs, you'll be forgiven for picking up one of Arts & Science's slouchy leather satchels or gray seersucker jackets for yourself.—Rebecca Willa Davis

Open daily noon to 8 pm.

Hakusan Porcelain
From 1st Building, Ground Floor
5-3-10 Minami Aoyama
Minato-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5774 8850
Metro: Omotesando
www1.ocn.ne.jp/~hakusan

Hakusan, not far from the Omotesando station, has a reputation for simple, beautifully made ceramics. Dinner sets are worth buying and sending home, or if you're looking for something smaller, the rice bowls come in a range of colors and patterns. Buy a mismatched selection as the Japanese do, or anything by Masahiro Mori, who has produced many pieces for Hakusan over several decades. His $11 soy sauce bottle from 1958 is a design classic.

Ippodo Tea Company
Nijo-kita, Teramachi-dori
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto
Japan 604-0915
Tel: 81 75 211 3421
www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/en/

What's more Japanese than a cup of green tea? This centuries-old, distinguished Kyoto institution takes its tea—all of which is grown in nearby Uji—as seriously as winemakers take their grapes. That's despite the disarming young salesgirl who looks like she might be sporting a few hidden tattoos and who admits in a whisper while she pours your Genmaicha that she herself prefers coffee. Even if you're only browsing, they'll proudly brew up and serve you a taste of whatever variety you fancy.

Ito-Ya
2-7-15 Ginza
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 3561 8311
Metro: Ginza

Everyone's favorite stationery store, Ito-ya fills nine floors with every pen, notebook, and folder imaginable. Stock up on Camper notebooks, the school brand that has high-quality soft notebooks at bargain prices. There's a great selection of cards, wrapping paper, and hand-printed postcards. Be sure to go to the annex in back, which sells handmade paper or washi. This is the best place to buy intricately made washi in all styles and hues, as well as sheets of paper printed with delicate Japanese patterns.

Japan Traditional Craft Center
Metropolitan Plaza
1-11-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro
Toshima-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5954 6066
Metro: Ikebukuro
www.kougei.or.jp/english/center.html

If you're not planning to travel outside Tokyo, a visit to this center will provide you with a whistle-stop tour of the best crafts from all over Japan. They sell ceramics from kilns up and down the country, plus everything from lacquer plates and iron pots to bamboo tea whisks. These are not tourist trinkets but serious work, and prices range from the very reasonable to the justifiably high for the most exquisite pieces. It's a good place to pick up easy-to-transport handmade paper lights. There's always an exhibition upstairs, featuring a visiting artisan displaying his or her skills. The giant Tobu department store is next door.

Kappabashi Dori
Taito-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Metro: Tawaramachi

This street is filled with stores selling cutlery, crockery, and kitchenware to the restaurant trade. You might not want the vat-sized saucepans, but there are many bargains to be had, including good glassware, cheap ceramics, and Japanese kitchen implements. This is also the place to come if you're after one of those uncannily realistic plastic plates of food that sit outside many Japanese restaurants.

Most stores closed Sundays.

Kurachika Yoshida
5-6-8 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5464 1766
Metro: Omotesando
www.yoshidakaban.com

The Japanese excel at functional accessories, and this shop is the last word in well-designed, good-looking bags, rucksacks, suitcases, and wallets. Some are made from hard-wearing nylon, others from indigo cotton or high-quality leather. These bags aren't cheap, but they last for years. They even have a back-room repair workshop. The label has several stores around Tokyo, plus various offshoots, but this location has the biggest selection. It sits on a quiet side street off busy Omotesando.

Closed Wednesdays.

Kyukyo-do
Ane-koji-kado, Teramachi-dori
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto
Japan 604-8091
Tel: 81 75 231 0510
www.kyukyodo.co.jp

Guidebooks describe Kyuko-do as an "incense and stationery" store—which may confuse shoppers more than lure them in. This is a shame, for Kyuko-do is no New Age tchotchke shop. The incense is of the Japanese variety, coming in stick, cones, and chips for use in tea ceremonies and Buddhist rituals. And the stationery, including mixed packs of colorful origami paper (perfect for writing notes) and handmade cards and envelopes, make excellent gifts. Artists will be interested in the store's beautiful brushes, paper, and ink stones made for traditional sumi-e, or ink brush painting.

Closed Sundays.

Marks & Web
Marunouchi Building
2-4-1 Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5220 5561
Metro: Tokyo
www.marksandweb.com

Marks & Web sells no-nonsense botanical toiletries from Matsuyama, the old Japanese soap company. Although rarely found outside Japan, this brand is well known in Tokyo for its herbal sunscreen, shampoos, and face creams, as well as for special accessories like maple-wood hairbrushes. The store is also a good excuse to visit the Marunouchi Building, an office and shopping tower in the business district next to Tokyo Station (www.marubiru.jp). There are shops downstairs (the Beams store sells a beautiful selection of clothes and accessories), offices in the middle, and scenic restaurants on top.

Matsuya Ginza
3-6-1 Ginza
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 3567 1211
Metro: Ginza
www.matsuya.com

Matsuya department store is worth a visit on its own, but the added attraction is the Design Collection and gallery on the seventh floor. The gallery sells a selection of the best in contemporary and classic wares, as chosen by the Japan Design Committee, with a focus on homegrown goods—particularly kitchen and tableware by the great Sori Yanagi, Japan's best-known product designer. There are also interesting art and design exhibitions.

Mitsukoshi
4-6-16 Ginza
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5562 1111
Metro: Ginza
www.mitsukoshi.co.jp

Don't leave Tokyo without seeing the basement food hall of a local department store, known as a depachika. The depachika at Mitsukoshi's Ginza branch is one of the best and takes up a couple of floors. It has the atmosphere of a street market, with vendors hawking their wares at full voice. If you're not on the hunt for fresh fish or meat, there are also scores of counters selling Japanese cakes, sweets, and green tea, all perfectly wrapped and presented. Rice crackers—or senbei—make great (and easily packed) gifts.

Mujirushi Ryohin
3-8-3 Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5208 8241
Metro: Tokyo
www.muji.net/eng/shop/

Mujirushi Ryohin ("no-brand goods"), or Muji, is an essential stop and a ubiquitous source for a superb selection of well-designed, good-value housewares, furnishings, and clothes. The Muji look is simple and fuss-free—no bright colors or gimmicks. Buy one of the light nylon bags for the pile of purchases you're bound to make here. There are Muji outlets all over Japan, but this branch is particularly impressive, with the full range of products, including food, toiletries, and even the complete Muji house.—Updated by Rebecca Willa Davis

Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.

Nishiharu
Teramachi-kado, Sanjo-dori
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto
Japan 604-8036
Tel: 81 75 211 2849

Don't overlook this inconspicuous shop in Teramachi if you have any interest in that most accessible of Japanese art forms, the ukiyo-e, or woodblock print: sensual, often sexual, frequently amusing, and highly colorful and graphic images of the "floating world" of Japan's Edo era. Nothing here is on display, however. Mr. Toru Sekigawa, who is well into his eighties, and his son Hitoshi, will talk with you, discern your tastes and interests, and then bring out prints for you to examine—just as Toru has for more than 50 years. They just don't make them like this—or like him—anymore.

Open daily 2 to 6:30 pm.

Prada
5-2-6 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-ku
Tokyo
Tel: 81 3 6418 0400
Metro: Omotesando

In the über-fashionable Aoyama neighborhood, in the fashion-obsessed city of Tokyo, where architecturally fabulous outposts of all the world's great labels have been blooming like chrysanthemums in the last decade, Herzog & de Meuron's "crystal"-shaped Prada store is a standout—a wonderful sight to behold and to experience. Bold yet inviting, visually cool yet warmly hospitable, it's a must-see even if you have no interest in fashion. Don't be shy about exploring every floor. The views are terrific, and the diamond-shaped transparent glass panels vary between curved and flat, creating a constantly changing environment and a playful interaction with the surrounding neighborhood. The clothes and the displays are all part of the integrated vision—as is the staff, which couldn't be more gracious.

Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.

Takashimaya
2-4-1 Nihonbashi
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Japan 103-8265
Tel: 81 3 3211 4111
www.takashimaya.co.jp

As one of Japan's oldest (and most historic) department stores, Takashimaya offers as much to look at inside as outside. The Nihonbashi location, which first opened in 1933 and was designated an important cultural property in 2009 for its Showa-period design, features everything from Gucci bags to fist-size dumplings on its 11 floors. Besides the big-name designers, whose wares populate the marble-lined second floor, there is a nail bar for midday touch-ups, an "indigo bar" for customizable jeans, and a basement full of stalls with mouthwatering meal options and culinary souvenirs like gourmet sesame seeds or tins of Ippodo tea. If the weather is nice, have one of the uniformed elevator attendants take you up to the roof, where there is a garden café.—Rebecca Willa Davis

Open daily 10 am to 8 pm.

Tokyu Hands
Takashimaya Times Square building
12-18 Udagawacho
Shibuya-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Tel: 81 3 5489 5111
Metro: Shibuya

Tokyu Hands defies description, but it is one of the city's most useful addresses. The ultimate hardware store, it sells everything from timber and flooring to stationery, luggage, kitchen equipment, camping gear, toiletries, and bathroom accessories. It even has a department for fancy dress costumes. Allow at least an hour at this Tokyo institution to peruse every floor. It's all immaculately laid out, and the staff—all wearing aprons—will do their best to help you navigate.

Yamato Mingei-Ten
Tako-yakushi-agaru, Kawaramachi-dori
Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto
Japan
Tel: 81 75 221 2641

Japanese handmade crafts are prized for their careful workmanship and intelligent design, and Yamato Mingei-Ten is one-stop shopping for folk art and crafts from around the country. The constantly changing collection includes everything from colorful children's toys to pottery. You might walk out with carved wooden soup spoons, a ceramic salad bowl, or an adorable papier-mâché cat. The store also has a branch around the corner that carries furniture and objects too big for your carry-on luggage.

Closed Tuesdays.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.