A fine example of Japanese planning and ingenuity, Odaiba is an artificial island located on the Tokyo Bay. The name 'Odaiba' finds its origins in the network of six artificial islands which were built in 1853 by Egawa Hidetatsu to protect the city of Edo, former name of Tokyo, from the American Commodore Matthew Perry, whose fleet of Black Ships posed an imminent threat. In modern times, this island has become a major attraction for leisure and entertainment, withstanding the economic collapse of Japan and other adversities. Today, Odaiba is home to a range of shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations, also being home to a replica of the Statue of Liberty, which sits gloriously against the backdrop of the Rainbow Bridge.
First opened in 1935, the historic Tsukiji fish market created an outer market region, thanks to its massive popularity. Known as the Tsukiji Outer Market, this vibrant landmark sells a variety of items like fresh produce, fish, utensils as well as ready to eat food. The market came into existence as a need to cater to non-wholesale customers, who were initially barred from entering the area for it was solely commercial. Even though the historic inner market has shut shop, you can still enjoy the unique shopping culture at the Outer Market.
Maruzen is one of the major bookstore chains in Japan. The Nihonbashi store is the flagship of the line, located in the center of Tokyo near the Imperial Palace. Maruzen has a voluminous collection of titles in English and of course an almost unparalleled collection of books, CD-ROMs and microfilms in Japanese. There is also a broad selection of periodicals and newspapers in English and Japanese. Photo buffs will find a superb assortment of books in English on photography and the visual arts.
Akihabara refers to the eastern side of the Chiyoda section of Tokyo. A vibrant and trendy hub, it is sometimes referred to as "Electric Town" because of the high concentration of stores selling all things electronic. Find the latest video games, gadgets, iPods, and cameras at Yodobashi Akiba, a multi-storied flagship store, or peruse the Tokyo Animation Center where you can watch showings and demonstrations on gaming and animation. Almost every shop here sells electronics, so the possibilities for technology enthusiasts are limitless. Akihabara is best known for its association with otaku culture, a term that encompasses people's all-consuming love of anime and manga. It's not surprising that all kinds of associated imagery are prominently reflected in a number of businesses, buildings, and even sidewalks in the area.
Established as a replacement for the Tsukiji Fish Market, the bustling Toyosu Market combines the old-school charm of its predecessor with a contemporary flair that is characteristic of Japan's capital. Overlooking the pristine waters of Tokyo Bay, this expansive market was first inaugurated in 2018 and since then, it has served as the go-to destination for delectable seafood and traditional specialties for locals and tourists alike. Sprawled over an area of 408,000 square meters ((4,391,675 square feet), the complex comprises a variety of stalls and shops purveying a wide range of food items, vegetables and fruits, as well as souvenirs and other enticing goods. The market's second floor features a viewing deck that enables visitors to survey all the activity unfolding below, while a rooftop offers an opportunity to soak in the city's stunning landscape. Those wishing to sample some tasteful local dishes can head to one of the many restaurants that form a part of the market.
Landmark Tower is located in the ultra modern Minato Mirai 21 development on Yokohama's waterfront. It is Yokohama's showcase community of sleek high-rise buildings, ultramodern shopping malls, museums, hotels, convention centers, office buildings, and homes. There's even an amusement park with a huge Ferris Wheel that's perfect for sightseeing. As Japan's tallest skyscraper, Landmark Tower is the centerpiece for Minato Mirai 21 and is home to the Yokahama Royal Park Hotel Nikko, the Sky Garden Observatory, Landmark Mall with 190 shops and boutiques, a medical clinic, 48 floors of office space, a 230-meter moving walkway that connects Landmark Tower with Sakuragi-cho Station, and three floors of underground parking that accommodates 1,400 cars! Landmark Tower also features one of Japan's important cultural properties, the Dockyard Garden—an authentic replica of the stone dockyard originally constructed in 1896. This is a playful reproduction with scores of restaurants "hidden" behind the huge stone blocks of the drydock.
Spread out in a large white open space, with shirts and sweaters on a long table in the center and the more individual styles on racks along the walls, you may feel a little self-conscious browsing here. But it is worth checking out this big brand-name store. On the one hand, Yamamoto's style is romantic and plush, and on the other, simple and stylish.
Tokyo Tocho, Tokyo City Hall's two towers, have become the best places to view Tokyo. There is a free observation level in both of the towers and the gift shop is located on that floor in the North tower. The souvenirs are standard, but quite cute in their own cheesy manner. You can buy Tokyo City Hall mobile phone straps, key rings, sweets and even mini chocolate eclairs. All packaging has an image of the Tokyo City Hall and of course TOKYO is printed somewhere on everything.
Over the past few years a new breed of shops has arrived in Tokyo. They are called "c" shops because everything they sell, or almost everything, costs just one hundred yen. Most of these shops stock the same goods: stationery, kitchen utensils, detergents and soaps, and accessories. But there are subtle differences in these shops and each has its own distinct character. Hyaku-en Merugard offers two things that most of these shops do not. The first is simply friendliness. The couple who run the shop are extremely patient with non-Japanese speaking customers and very willing to help them find what they want. The other thing is a clothing reform service. If you need something repaired, just drop it off and they will do the rest.
Kanto & Co. is a first-class tobacconist located in Yokohama's shopping tribute to California, MyCal Honmoku. Kanto & Co. carries a wide assortment of the domestic JT, Japan Tobacco, cigarette brands. They also carry a nice selection of imported cigarettes from Turkey, England, and Europe. Kanto & Co. has a fine selection of cigars in a wide price range. They also cater to pipe smokers, with a large selection of pipes and pipe tobaccos, and carry an assortment of small articles appreciated by smokers, such as lighters, lighter fluid, cigarette rolling papers, pipe cleaners, and so on.
Spread over two spacious floors dripping with elegance, this shop has the look of the lobby of a five-star hotel, with prices to match. Original bags with a bold yet tasteful 'K' emblazoned on the front are Kitamura's trademark. Be prepared to walk out with your bag a little lighter as prices are high for some crocodile goods. At any moment the surprisingly large number of staff may outnumber the customers, and they are quite helpful.
So how excited can you feel about paper? A lot, if you happen to be in the Paper Nao shop. They offer approximately 250 varieties of paper, in a host of colors and textures. The people running the store will give you a good deal of information about the varities of paper available. Learn details of fiber used in making the paper including whether it is hand-made or machine-made, type of drying done, type of cooking as part of processing. Do visit it even if it is out of plain curiosity.