Jimbocho, or 'old book town', gets its name from the 140 secondhand bookstores located in the Kanda area. There are also 30 bookstores specializing in new publications, and nearly 500 publishing houses, one of them being the Isseido Shoten. Since many of Japan's foremost universities are located in this area, this bookstore is even more significant. A trip to Jimbocho wouldn't be complete without a stop at Isseido Shoten, known for an extensive collection of old and rare books and manuscripts. Browse for bargains or just to soak up the rich wealth of stored knowledge. English volumes as well as Japanese editions are available.
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 the "Electric City" because of the high concentration of stores selling all things electronic. Find the latest video games, gadgets, iPods, and cameras at Yodobashi Akiba, a nine-story flagship store, or peruse the Tokyo Animation Center where you can watch showings and demonstrations on gaming and animation. Almost every shop here deals with electronics, so the possibilities are endless for technology lovers!
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.
World Porters is a huge complex housing shops, restaurants, a multiplex movie theater with eight screens and seating for 1,600, conference and meeting rooms, and exhibition halls. There are over 170 shops, many of which are import stores specializing in overseas fashions, and the prices are quite reasonable for Japan. The great variety of cuisine available among the over thirty restaurants gives you plenty to choose from when the shopping tires you out. If you want to catch movie while you are here, the eight-screen multiplex variety puts on road shows, recent Japanese blockbusters, cinema classics and reruns.
The motto of Patisserie Hidemi Sugino states that "You won't find our pastries anywhere else;" a brave promise in light of the hundreds of high-class, highly inventive patisseries scattered around Tokyo. It is, however, a statement the store lives up to, for it has garnered such a reputation that there is a queue before the store even opens. The patisserie specializes in mousse cakes, in a variety of flavors that are usually seasonal and the deceptively simple appearance of the pastries melt away to reveal layers of flavor within. This is a must-stop for any dessert lover; just be prepared to wait for your turn to try the unique confections.
Ships Ginza is a well-established Tokyo brand that places a heavy emphasis on style and quality. The men's boutique in particular is worth a mention - they stock a range of casual clothing, which you can dress up with their accessories, belts and shoes - check out their range of bags, or their delightful ties. Business suits can also be ordered here.
A particularly modern, bright and inviting department store, Hankyu offers many popular and familiar brand names, GAP, DKNY, Kenzo, Miyake, Cerruti and Nicole Farhi to name a few. The men's collection is just as good as the women's and the English floor guide is not only comprehensible, but lists everything by brand name. The Yurakucho branch also has a second H2 Sukiyabashi building on the next block (beside the Sony building), which houses more fashion and household goods plus HMV. Shopping is made refreshingly easy here.
This store, located in the Ginza district, is truly a heaven for shopaholics. Wako was established in 1881 and was originally a watch and jewelry shop. Now considered the oldest and most prestigious design store in the city, Wako has exclusive watches, jewelry, handbags, porcelain and dishware. The store also has a wide clothing collection for men and women. You can find the store's branches in Hiroo, Minato and Haneda Airport as well. Situated within an old-fashioned building with a clock tower, the store is something else to behold at night, with fancy lights drawing attention to it.
Tucked away in a small corner, the Ginza Kazuya is a small haven serving heavenly artisanal sweets.The chef-owner here is a one-man machine - he does everything on his own, from purchase the ingredients needed to make his 'Kazuya no ren' (the base of all his sweet products) to greeting and serving his customers. He fills his sweets with a variety of local ingredients; Ginza Kazuya confections are very popular with locals and the initiated so call in advance to reserve sweets as production is limited. The shop might be a little difficult to find but in the end it is all worth the effort.