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.
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!
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.
Photography is hugely popular in Japan and a majority of Japanese people both enjoy it as a hobby and appreciate it as an art form. The Photo Gallery International is a popular gallery and bookshop dedicated to the photographic arts. It organizes exhibitions and several other events surrounding the theme of photography and welcomes patrons of all ages. Renowned photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Harry Callahan etc. have featured their works in the gallery.
Right down the street from Studio Alta, Shinjuku's famous rendezvous point, Kinokuniya's main store has a large selection of books on Japanese art and an entertaining collection of English travel guides and books about Tokyo and Japan. The bulk of the English books have been moved to the Takashimaya Times Square store about five minutes away. You can order anything you can't find on the shelves through their in-store online bookshop.
Nishi Ginza store is an ideal place to shop for teenagers and trendy young adults. Almost everything here sparkles--tons of glittery hair slides, plenty of flashy jewelry, a wide variety of young fashions, and several stalls of cosmetics. Lovers of "Hello Kitty" will find the "Super Kitty" section on the second floor particularly interesting. This specializes in "Hello Kitty" goods designed specifically for young adults. The section carries stylish clothes, bags and various accessories, all bearing the "Hello Kitty" motif.
This store, founded way back in 1892, is the king of all Ginza shops offering music-related goods. Six floors of CDs, MDs, videos and musical instruments can be found here. The store also offers a repair service and the seventh floor has an event space. Easy to find, Yamano Music is directly opposite Mitsukoshi Department Store. There is always a special promotion stand on the street outside its front door.
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.
In Tokyo, a city that launched a thousand thoughtfully designed luxury stores, you could be assured that Armani was not to be outdone. The Armani Ginza Tower, home of the Armani / Ristorante, the stunning Armani / Spa along with a complete collection of Armani clothing, is both a retail and architectural triumph. The building itself is particularly dazzling at nighttime, festooned with lights and with structural supports that mimic bamboo stalks.
Kyukyodo has a long illustrious history - it opened in Kyoto in 1663 and had the privilege of supplying incense to the Imperial Palace. The store then moved to Tokyo in 1880 and has been operating ever since. The Ginza branch is famous for several reasons - many origami enthusiasts will come here first, to find high quality paper, hitofudegaki drawings, and gorgeous boxes, cards and postcards made from washi paper. Kyukyodo still sells incense and, most notably, the store is situated on what is verifiably the most expensive plot of land in Japan. Look out for the distinctive brick archway.